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'Add the Words' Supporters Bend Ears of Idaho Lawmakers at Statehouse Presentation

"For almost 40 years or so, I believed in what I call the 'myth of homosexual choice.' I had always lived in a strong heterosexual male atmosphere, and simply did not understand anything else."

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Because no official bill has surfaced in the 2013 Idaho legislative session, state lawmakers have yet to cast a vote for or against Add the Words this year.

Instead, two dozen House and Senate legislators were asked by supporters to mull the idea—after most elected officials skipped out on a Feb. 6 information session.

Wednesday morning, proponents called on members of the House and Senate State Affairs committees to support a long sought addition of the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the Idaho Human Rights Act. Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson described an erosion of trust between the public and government when citizens feel as though they aren't protected.

"Reports indicate there are those who believe it is OK to commit crimes against the LGBT community because they won't report to authorities. As police chief, I can say that's not OK," he said.

Don Curtis, chair of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center's advisory board, described his own process of discovering his sexual orientation as a young boy.

"From that time on, for almost 40 years or so, I believed in what I call the 'myth of homosexual choice.' I had always lived in a strong heterosexual male atmosphere, and simply did not understand anything else," he told lawmakers.

When his own son came out, Curtis learned firsthand, he said, that the "choice myth" is the "keystone myth that underlies the human rights failure in our state." As the presentation wound down, lawmakers including Boise Republican Sen. Chuck Winder looked to help weigh their decision on the issue.

"As you know, we grew up during the era of the desegregation and all the issues of race, and for me, that's a no-brainer. What was going on was wrong. I struggle, as I think others do, with the impact of discrimination against any person," said Winder.

Before departing, Rexburg Republican Sen. Brent Hill said an open dialogue is critical.

"We've got a long ways to go but I want to thank those who were here to help us do that," said Hill.

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