Few lawmakers turn out for Idaho Human Rights discussion
February 7, 2013 2 Comments
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.