Prominent Idahoans Defend Human Rights Commission

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A group of prominent Idaho citizens, including former Govs. Cecil Andrus and John Evans, Republicans and Democrats, religious leaders and a host of human rights activists have written an open letter to the Legislature defending the existence of the Idaho Human Rights Commission and "imploring" law makers to preserve it in the face of Gov. C .L. "Butch" Otter's recommendation that it be dissolved over the next four years. The letter is reproduced in full below (click on the jump to see the full list of signatories).

Forty years ago, the Idaho Legislature determined that it would be the policy of the state of Idaho to secure for every citizen basic, fundamental human rights.

The enabling legislation creating the Idaho Human Rights Commission stated the purpose directly and forcefully. The Idaho Human Rights Commission would exist:

To secure for all individuals within the state freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin or disability in connection with employment, public accommodations, and real property transactions, discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in connection with education, discrimination because of age in connection with employment, and thereby to protect their interest in personal dignity, to make available to the state their full productive capacities, to secure the state against domestic strife and unrest, to preserve the public safety, health, and general welfare, and to promote the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the state.

Now this noble charter and the work of the one of the smallest, but most important state agencies face grave danger under a proposal to phase out all state funding for the Commission. It must not be allowed to happen.

We implore the members of the Idaho Legislature to resist any initiative to reduce the effectiveness of the Commission, to diminish its already scarce resources and to send the most unwelcome and damaging message that Idaho has ceased to place human rights at the absolute forefront of the state’s priorities.

We need not remind Idaho state government that it was not that many years ago that Idaho’s image and reputation was unfairly sullied by the presence in our midst of messengers of hate and ministers of discord. Idahoan’s were united then — and must be united now — in rejecting any assault on human rights. We came together in the past to send a powerful and righteous message that Idaho would not tolerate discrimination and would not give comfort to those who deny basic human dignity to all her citizens.

The Idaho Human Rights Commission is on the absolute frontline in this continuing battle and has been for more than 40 years. For four decades, the Commission has ensured Idaho workers and employers that laws concerning discrimination will be fairly and properly applied. Even demanding economic times must not be an excuse for abandoning the principle that the state of Idaho supports this work both in word and deed.

It should be a priority of the 60th Idaho Legislature to secure for another 40 years and beyond this essential, vital function of state government.

Cecil D. Andrus
Governor of Idaho, 1971-1977, 1987-1995
U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 1977-1981

John V. Evans
Governor of Idaho, 1977-1987

David H. Leroy, Boise
Attorney General of Idaho, 1979-1983
Lt. Governor of Idaho, 1983-1987

Greg Carr, Idaho Falls native
Founder of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard
(Mr. Carr financed the purchase of the former Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho)

John Hansen, Idaho Falls
Former Republican Idaho State Senator

Laird Noh, Twin Falls
Former Republican Idaho State Senator

Jesse Berain, Boise
First Director, Idaho Human Rights Commission
Former Republican Member Idaho House of Representatives

Marilyn Shuler, Boise
Former Director, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Leslie Goddard and Stephen V. Goddard, Mountain Home
Former Director, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Bob Trerise, Boise
Former President, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Gayle Speizer, Boise
Former President, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Amy Herzfeld, Boise
Ex. Director, Idaho Human Rights Education Center

Richard and Sondra Hackborn, Boise
Hackborn is a former Chairman, Board member and executive with Hewlett Packard

Don and Susan Curtis, Boise
Former Hewlett Packard and St. Luke’s employees
Human Rights Activists

Rich and Georgiann Raimondi, Boise
Raimondi is a former Hewlett Packard executive

Skip Oppenheimer, Boise

Mary Lou Reed, Coeur d’Alene
Former Idaho Democratic State Senator and Founding President of the Human Rights Education Institute

Tony Stewart, Coeur d’Alene
Founder, NW Coalition Against Malicious Harassment

Cherie Buckner-Webb, Boise
Chair, Board of Directors Idaho Black History Museum

The Right Reverend Brian J. Thom, Boise
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Idaho

Rabbi Daniel Fink, Boise
Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel

Dr. Said Ahmed-Zaid, Boise
Islamic Center of Boise

Rev. David Carlson
Retired, General Presbyter, Presbyteries of Boise, Eastern Oregon and Kendall
Presbyterian Church, USA

Will Rainford, Boise
Legislative Advocate for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise and Catholic Charities of Idaho
Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth, Cottonwood
(Sister of Human Rights Activist Bill Wassmuth)

J.D. Williams, Boise
Former Idaho State Controller

The Honorable Bryon Johnson, Boise
Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice

Mike and Arlene Mitchell, Lewiston
Former Democratic Idaho House and Senate member

Bethine Church, Boise

Clarisse Maxwell, Boise
Human Rights Activist and Board Member Idaho Black History Museum

Christine Wood, Coeur d’Alene
Task Force on Human Relations


Joanne Harvey, Coeur d’Alene
Task Force on Human Relations

Ken Howard, Coeur d’Alene
(Participant in the lawsuit that bankrupted the Aryan Nations)

Norm Gissel, Coeur d’ Alene
Attorney and Human Rights Activist

Chris and Gail Bray, Boise
Former Members Ada County Human Rights Task Force
Gail Bray is a former Democratic Idaho State Senator

Lisa Uhlmann, Boise
Co-Founder, Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

Meredith Carnahan, Boise

Bob and Betty Sims, Boise
Former Dean of Public Affairs, BSU
Community Activists

Frank and Barbara Roberts, Boise

Lyn McCollum, Boise

Joyce Harvey-Morgan, Boise
Former Dean of Extended Studies, BSU

John and Elizabeth Sullivan, Moscow

Mary Hindson, Boise

Mary Clagett Smith, Boise

Henry and Sue Reents, Boise
Sue Reents is a former Democratic Idaho State Senator and IHRC Commissioner

Bill and Jane Lloyd, Boise

Marc C. Johnson, Boise