Opinion: The Idaho Legislature’s Broken Record

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Those of us with a love for vinyl know just how horrifying it can be to be sitting there listening to your favorite hard-to-find rare imported LP, only to hear the same line of the song over and over and over again. The majority of us would call it a broken record. The Idaho Legislature calls it business as usual.

For the past six years now we’ve been asking our state lawmakers to at least hear out what it’s like to be an LGBT citizen of Idaho. In those six years not once have we been granted that opportunity.

Earlier this month, lawmakers were invited to hear from a panel of respected businessmen, politicians, a pastor, a human rights expert and a constitutional scholar.  It was their chance to at least learn of the positive impact that adding the words “gender identity and sexual orientation” to the state’s Human Rights Act could have. Very few found the topic important enough to attend.

Every year it’s the same exact broken record over and over and over again.

It’s the song of people like State Senator Jim Rice, (R-Caldwell), who told the Idaho Press Tribune last weekend that, ” the ‘add the words’  legislation wasn’t needed.” “All it does is create litigation that isn’t necessary,” Rice told the paper. “Most people aren’t doing that (discrimination) anyway.”

It’s the song of Idaho Governor Butch Otter who remains silent on the issue despite the growing evidence that discrimination is harming our state both image wise and economically.

It’s the song of many among the Idaho press corps who, though they support the effort privately, trade access for responsibility and cover the issue as if it were a mere controversy, rather than a matter of basic human rights.

Meanwhile, we as a community sit and listen, hoping that at some point someone will get up and move the needle.

Aren’t we tired of hearing the same broken record over and over and over again?

Aren’t we tired of being told we aren’t a legislative ” priority” or that it “just wasn’t in the cards this year”?

At some point, this session, lawmakers will once again be asked to “add the words.” The question is will this be the year that we finally get them to change their tune?

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