Meg Whitman, other GOP officials: Overturn Prop 8!

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Hewlett-Packard CEO and former California gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman, has joined 74 other top ranking republicans in asking the Supreme Court to overturn California’s discriminatory proposition 8.

According to the New York Times,”Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.”

The brief, which is expected to be filed with the court this week includes other GOP names,”Among…Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.”

Whitman signing on to the brief is  especially stunning considering the former ebay chief supported the proposition during her bid for governor.

“Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, who favored civil unions but opposed same-sex marriage during his 2012 presidential bid, also signed. Last week, Mr. Huntsman announced his new position in an article titled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” a sign that the 2016 Republican presidential candidates could be divided on the issue for the first time,” the Times reports.

Ken Mehlman, the former GOP chairman who was forced out of the closet by blogger Michael Rogers after supporting several anti-equality issues, tells the paper,”We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on March 26th. The justices are also scheduled to hear arguments in a case challenging the so-called “defense of marriage act” the following day.

LGBT groups across the country are planning marches, or similar actions, during the pivotal week to show their support. (Click HERE to learn more.)

Few lawmakers turn out for Idaho Human Rights discussion

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For a legislative session that so far has been grappling with such subjects  like adding “Atlas Shrugged” to the list of high school graduation requirements, making it a mandate to teach cursive and the all important task of naming an auditorium, one would think that perhaps more than a handful of lawmakers could add the task of making sure every Idaho citizen has the same rights and opportunities to their priority list.

If a panel discussion at the capital on Wednesday gives any indication though, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The discussion, hosted by Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Rep. Grant Burgoyne, both Boise democrats, drew a large crowd inside the auditorium but glaringly missing, despite being invited by the event’s hosts, were lawmakers with an R- attached to their title.

From the outset panel members agreed that including sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act was a non-partisan issue. In fact, national polls on the subject seem to indicate that the gap between republicans and democrats is rapidly closing when it comes to ensuring the rights of all citizens.

Part of the goal of the discussion was to give lawmakers a chance to learn about the topic without all the hyperbole that has typically surrounded the amendment-a major objection from many lawmakers in past years.

Wednesday’s panel featured a wide range of experts including the director of the Human Rights Commission, the director of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership, a pastor, a city council president, a private business owner and a constitutional scholar, not exactly what one would call a liberal bastion of LGBT apologists.

The lack of interest in learning about the issue, while extremely troublesome, shouldn’t really surprise us. This is the same body that has for the past six years refused to give the issue a public hearing. What is surprising, however, is how little lawmakers seem to care about a subject that seems to have reached the tipping point across the state.

KTVB-TV reports that the station “reached out to all Republican members of that committee, (The Senate State Affairs Committee), today, but were unable to speak with any of them to see if this legislation will be viewed differently this year compared to years past.”

Sen. Buckner-Webb and Rep. Burgoyne plan to reintroduce the legislation sometime this session.

KBOI-TV reports,”Democrats say they’ll continue to try and convince their Republican colleagues now is the time to amend Idaho Human Rights Act.”

So far no  specific date has been set for the bill’s introduction.

(You can keep up to date on the legislation effort as well as find out how you can help put the issue on lawmakers priority lists by clicking HERE.)

Idaho’s “Add The Words” Bill May Get A Second Chance In House

Add the Words, Idaho organizers plan to submit a new version of a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to  Idaho’s human rights act to the House State Affairs committee this week.

The move comes almost three weeks after a GOP majority on the Senate State Affairs committee voted not to print its version of the bill.

The “Add the Words” bill would make it illegal in Idaho to discriminate against someone solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of employment, housing or in other public amenities.

According to a Facebook announcement, organizers are asking supporters to,”send a hand written note to the six most powerful Republican leaders in the statehouse asking them to “please be a hero to thousands that live in fear”, to vote in favor of allowing a public hearing and to vote in favor of “add the words sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act”! Writing these lawmakers with a positive message will let them know that their communities support this legislation and it is important to make it a priority this year.”

Mistie Tolman, statewide Add the Words spokeswoman, told the Times-News this week that events such as silent protests will continue to be held two or three times a week in Boise until a bill is printed or the legislative session ends — whichever comes first.

Here is a list of the six Idaho GOP leaders organizers are asking folks to write. Please be respectful, it’s important to thank them for taking the time to consider the bill. Remember time is of the essence:

Senator Brent Hill, Senate President Pro Tempore, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0081

Senator Bart M. Davis, Senate Republican Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0081

Senator Chuck Winder, Assistant Republican Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0081

Representative Lawerence Denney, Speaker of the House, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

Representative Mike Moyle, Republican Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

Representative Scott Bedke, Assistant Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Features Greenwald’s VanderSloot Story

Progressive talk superstar Rachel Maddow reported on Glenn Greenwald’s Frank VanderSloot story last night.

Jody May-Chang writes over at her site,”Rachel did a brilliant job of describing just how Melaleuca’s CEO, Frank VanderSloot, has used his power and wealth to silence his critics, like the bloggers at 43rd State Blues, The Idaho Agenda and recently my four year-old posts on my former blog PrideDEPOT.com.”

You can watch the segment below.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, a HUGE thank you goes to Jody and to Glenn for making sure this story gets heard!

Vodpod videos no longer available.MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Features Greenwald Story, posted with vodpod

A Must Read! Glenn Greenwald Strikes Back!

To say that things behind the scenes at the Idaho Agenda have been interesting  the past couple of weeks would be an understatement. If you care about Idaho, free speech and the First Amendment in any way shape or form, you’ll want to read today’s explosive piece by Glenn Greenwald over at Salon….

“Anyone who is the national finance co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign deserves probing, substantial scrutiny. That’s equally true of someone who continues to use their vast wealth to influence the outcome of our elections and our most inflammatory political debates. And it’s certainly true of someone who has made it a regular practice of threatening journalists, bloggers and activists who shine light on his political and business practices.”

You can read the whole Orwellian tale HERE.

It’s going to make for interesting lunch conversation over the at the Boise Center on the Grove this afternoon that’s for sure.

If you’re unfamiliar with Glenn, he is a  Constitutional and civil rights expert, journalist and the author of  two books. He was recently the keynote  speaker at ACLU Idaho’s Annual Bill of Rights Celebration.

A HUGE thanks to Mr. Greenwald  and Idaho’s own independent journalist,  Jody May-Chang, for standing up for Idaho, the right of free speech and bloggers everywhere!

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