BOISE — During Idaho’s legally dubious special session this week, Representative Bruce Skaug introduced House Bill 412, which aims to amend Idaho’s constitution to add vaccination status as a protected class in antidiscrimination matters.
Add The Words, Idaho has fought for more than a decade to add protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation to the Idaho Human Rights Act (IHRA) because they constitute immutable characteristics of a person and therefore in need of protection from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. Year after year, the Idaho legislature has refused to pass such a bill. Add the Words, Idaho has introduced this bill every year since 2014 and the closest it came to becoming law was a public hearing in 2015 that brought nearly 200 people providing 21 hours of testimony over three days. The bill failed on a party line vote, 13-4. Since then, Idaho legislators have refused to give the public another hearing. This presents a stark contrast to House Bill 412, which attempts to make an individual’s choice on one particular decision akin to an inherent human characteristic – which passed the House easily during a session where the public had no time to review legislation and provide meaning feedback.
Add The Words and community organizations interested in preserving the human rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals in Idaho strongly condemn these actions.
Nisha Newton (they/them), Legislative Strategist & Liberation Cultivator, Add The Words, Idaho:
“We are disheartened, disappointed and disgusted by the lack of compassion in this bill. LGBTQ+ Idahoans have spent years asking legislators to honor their humanity and rights to being able to live, work and thrive in a state they call home. This bill is a slap in the face to the community and their efforts as whole; if the leadership were astute, they would put a stop to it immediately.”
Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman (she/her), Idaho State Director, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Idaho:
“It is outrageous and demeaning for the Idaho Legislature to allow such a vile, anti-LGBTQ+ political statement to be introduced, let alone pass the House. Idaho lawmakers have repeatedly denied Idaho’s LGBTQ+ community their fundamental right to legal protection in housing, employment, and public accommodations for over a decade. Passing a bill that amends the Idaho Human Rights Act to extend protections to ‘unvaccinated people’ makes a mockery of the persistent pleas from our community to receive equal protections under the law. It is clear that this special session is nothing but political theater. Suggesting that people who chose to remain unvaccinated need protection more than some of the most historically marginalized folks in our state is insulting, and we condemn these actions. We demand our elected officials get back to making meaningful, positive change for their constituents rather than playing harmful political games.”
Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln (she/they), Idaho Programs Manager, Legal Voice:
“The extremism on display at the Capitol continues to waste Idaho taxpayers’ time and money on legislation that will result in more lawsuits. The Idaho Human Rights Act was established with the thoughtful intentions of past leadership who believed that securing legal protections to marginalized people based on their immutable characteristics was the right thing to do. For well over a decade, members of the LGBTQ+ community have been waiting on the legislative body to recognize and honor their humanity on the most basic level by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the IHRA. This is a ridiculous and embarrassing use of our legislative system.”
Indigenous Idaho Alliance:
“Across the country, and most acutely in Idaho, we see continued attacks on human rights using the blatant bastardization of the framework for human rights legislation. Protections are in place to protect our humanity, not to pick and choose which individual decisions or inconveniences are challenged. We have a responsibility to protect people most impacted by marginalization and oppression. This bill is about assuaging the inconvenience of a few miseducated Idahoans.”
Add the Words, Idaho is a statewide, volunteer run organization that is committed to providing educational outreach and community organizing that is centered on equality for all Idahoans with a focus of gender and queer justice. Learn more at addthewords.org.
Freeing Idaho is a coalition of community partners that use a multi-faceted approach to actualize bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom in Idaho by educating Idahoans about current state policies and the harm caused by abortion restrictions; mobilizing Idahoans to organize within their networks; activating and supporting Idahoans to be engaged publicly about their support of reproductive health care; and providing intersectional education that ends the stigma around abortion. Founding coalition members include Legal Voice, Add The Words Idaho, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates — Idaho, the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho.