Idaho House Committee Hears Testimony On “Add The Words” LGBT Rights Bill

On Monday, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee heard public testimony on the bill that would add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s Human Rights Act. Via the Associated Press:

Overall, lawmakers were largely silent during the hearing, asking only a handful of follow up questions and withholding comments. The committee — made up some of the Statehouse’s most conservative lawmakers and only a handful of Democrats— met twice Monday and expected to convene Tuesday morning to listen to testimony. Idaho’s gay rights supporters not only face opposition among the state’s staunchly conservative legislators but also from Idaho’s deeply religious population. Some at the hearing testified on Monday that they fear the bill, commonly known as “Add the Words,” will infringe on their rights as individuals and business owners. “Don’t make laws that protect (against) laws against nature and sexual deviant acts,” said Paul Thompson of Twin Falls. “Regardless of sexual orientation, it is a law that makes a mockery of all that is created and to our creator.” State Rep. John McCrostie of Boise, currently Idaho’s only openly gay state lawmaker, responded that he, too, was a Christian and asked if Thompson’s beliefs were greater than his own. “I respect an individual’s desire to want to live out their lives as they feel compelled to do so,” Thompson said. “But I owe myself authority to the written word of God.”

Among those testifying was Family Research Council vice president Peter Sprigg, who has publicly declared that there should be “criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.” Sprigg’s ugly anti-gay rant begins at the 45-minute mark in the clip below, but I recommend starting a couple of minutes earlier and listening to the story of a gay Idaho man. An excerpt from Sprigg:

“A business that places unfound prejudice” ahead of serving customers will be punished by the forces of the free market itself. There is no need to bring the heavy hand of government down upon it. We should have faith,that the people who know best how to run a business are the people who own and operate it — not lawyers, government bureaucrats, or even legislators. And we should have respect for the freedom of businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations to hold to their own, deeply-held beliefs, and to act on such beliefs. Yet this bill would substitute the judgment of government officials for that of private businesses and organizations regarding what qualities or characteristics are most relevant to a particular job, and regarding how to operate their business.”