Committee Chair: No Vote for Idaho’s “Add the Words” Bill

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The Chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee appears to be ready to once again ignore the plight of Idaho’s LGBT community. For the seventh year in a row committee members are on the verge of going home without giving a bill that would add the words “sexual orientation or gender identity” to Idaho’s human rights amendment.

The 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.

Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie tells the Idaho Statesman that, while some lawmakers felt “bad” for their votes last year,”no bill will be considered for introduction.”

The issue reached a near-tipping point with citizens last year, following the participation of thousands of supporters through out the state, but ultimately the bill  failed to gain enough votes in the committee to move forward.

Last month, state lawmakers were invited to attend a panel discussion to learn more about the bill. However, no Republicans and very few Democrats turned out for the lunch time presentation.

All may not be lost, however. For the first time ever, members of the Senate and House State Affairs committees are scheduled to hear an “informal presentation” regarding the measure.

McKenzie tells the Statesman,”out of respect for (Sen. Cherie) Buckner-Webb (the bill’s sponsor) he agreed to a 45 minute to one-hour presentation. Formal public testimony won’t be taken and opponents won’t be asked to speak. Buckner-Webb is organizing the event.”

Add the Words, Idaho organizers are encouraging community members to attend Wednesday morning’s meeting in order to silently show their support for the bill.  The”informal  presentation” is scheduled for this Wednesday morning at 8:00 am in the Lincoln Auditorium on the Capitol’s garden level.

You can also contact  committee members and let them know that you support the measure:

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400

Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300

Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340

Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100

Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

Sen. Siddoway (Contact him by Clicking HERE.)

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ACLU of Idaho to offer “Know Your Rights” Training

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If you’ve ever wondered what you can or can’t do inside the Capital building, how to give a public testimony or if you just want to know more about the inside workings of state government, the ACLU of Idaho will be offering two upcoming,”Know Your Rights” training sessions.

According to the ACLU of Idaho,”Topics covered will include permits and rallies, public testimony/speech in and outside the Statehouse and other rights and rules for public use of the building.”

The first training session will be held on Saturday, January 5th, from noon until one pm. The second session will be held on Thursday, January 10th, from six until seven pm.

Both sessions will be held at the Idaho Statehouse, Majority Caucus Room-E403 700 W. Jefferson St. in downtown Boise.

The trainings are open to the general public and there is no cost to attend. You are asked to preregister, however, by filling out the online registration form found HERE or by calling 208-344-9750 x 201.

Idaho Ultrasound Bill Dead but Backers Clueless as to Why

It’s not really State Senator Chuck Winder’s fault he doesn’t get why his bill, which would have required a woman to pay for and receive an ultrasound before receiving an abortion,was stopped by cooler heads in the House.

After all, the Boise Republican swims in circles that typically ignore the voices of minorities, women and the poor anyway. Who could blame him for not getting that the bill’s main flaw was that it’s part of a grand scheme to take away a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body.

Winder tells the Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell that,”the mandatory ultrasound “seemed to be the fatal flaw, at least in the House.”

So the bill wasn’t fatally flawed in the Senate? What about when Winder and his anti-choice cronies were drafting the legislation? Wasn’t it flawed then?

Thousands of women across the state and across the country seemed to think so and they spoke out against it. There was so much opposition to the bill that not even the anti-women’s rights crowd in the House  was willing to touch it.

Still, Winder and the rest of those behind the bill remain clueless on why the bill failed.

He is also doing a bit of dancing.

Winder told the Times-News on Tuesday that he would change some things about his bill,”I think the rape and incest exception would be one” that he would consider adding, he said. He would also take a closer look at the provision requiring physicians to record the fetal heartbeat.”

This coming from a State Senator who, moments after the bill passed the Senate, set off a national firestorm when he showed how insensitive he really is by accusing women of using rape as an excuse to seek an abortion,“Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape,” he said.

But than he danced around those comments as well, claiming he was “misunderstood.”

“I used a married woman, the idea being that as a woman or a couple, whether they be married or unmarried at the time, would want to find out if the pregnancy occurred as the product of the rape, or whether the pregnancy was unknown at the time,” Winder told The Associated Press, “there was never any intention on my part to question the honesty of a woman in cases of rape.”

Not even the main backers of the bill get why the bill failed.

Jason Herring, president of Right to Life of Idaho, blames , “misconceptions” and  “the complexity of this issue.”

It’s really not that hard to figure out.

Hannah Brass, Idaho legislative director for Planned Parenthood, put it best when she told the Times-News,”this sort of mandate, which demeans and shames women, is not OK – now or ever.”

The women of Idaho deserve better than a song and dance show about why their state lawmakers are, not only insulting them, but are also trying to take away their most basic rights as well.

Come November, let’s hope Idaho voters aren’t as clueless as those who supported SB 1387.

Update: Utah Governor Vetos “Don’t Say Gay” Sex Ed Bill

Utah Governor Gary Herbert  used his red stamp on Friday night to veto a bill that would have banned teachers from discussing homosexuality and also have required sex ed teachers to teach “abstinence only.”

According to Reuters,”In vetoing the measure, dubbed HB 363, Herbert said that as a parent and grandparent he considered proper sex education in public schools an important component to the moral education youngsters receive at home.”

KEUR reports,”The bill had drawn strong public response and thousands of letters to the governor’s office. Allyson Isom, the governor’s spokesperson, says more than 90-percent of those letters and e-mails asked the governor to veto the bill.”

After its passage last month by Utah lawmakers, LGBT community leaders called the bill discriminatory and unfair because it would leave many LGBT youth in the dark when it comes to learning about their own sexualities. It also meant that straight students would no longer be taught any sort of scientific understanding when it comes to sexual and gender minorities.

“Governor Herbert may be taking a substantial political risk with the veto as he campaigns for re-election, Conservative activists within the Republican Party have urged him to sign the bill. ” reports the radio station.

Utah Lawmakers Pass Harmful “Don’t Say Gay” Sex Eduation Bill

A bill that would ban teachers from discussing homosexuality and also require sex ed teachers to teach “abstinence only” has passed the Utah legislature.

According to FOX13-TV,”After the new bill goes into effect, the teaching of sex education in Utah classrooms has to be about not having sex before marriage and fidelity within marriage. Teachers cannot advocate the use of contraceptives anymore and they cannot talk about homosexuality, even if asked by a student.”

The bill also allows Utah schools to opt out of teaching any sort of sex education class at all.

Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, told the Salt Lake Tribune,”lawmakers must understand that not all kids will learn about the topic [sex ed] if it isn’t taught at school.”

LGBT Community leaders say the bill is discriminatory and unfair because it would leave many LGBT youth in the dark when it comes to learning about their own sexualities. It also means that straight students will no longer be taught any sort of scientific understanding when it comes to sexual minorities.

The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.

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