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'Add the Words' Statehouse Panelists Continue Anti-Discrimination Conversation

"When you don't add these words, you create an unprotected class."


Boise Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Boise Democratic Rep. Grant Burgoyne today hosted a panel discussion in the Senate auditorium of the Idaho State Capitol, meant to provide information regarding the addition of the words "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the state's Human Rights Act.

An hourlong discussion began at noon, and though no questions were taken from the audience, moderator Dr. David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy, helped the panel focus on two major areas: faith and business.

Maryanne Jordan, Boise City Council president, and John Reuter, former Sandpoint City Council president, spoke from experience—both their city governments passed similar antidiscrimination laws.

"When you don't add these words, you create an unprotected class," said Jordan.

Panelists also included Pam Parks, executive director of the Idaho Commission on Human Rights, the Rev. Marci Glass of Southminster Presbyterian Church, Kevin Settles, owner of Bardenay restaurants, and Clark Krause, Boise Valley Economic Partnership director.

After the panel concluded, audience members began to stream out of the room, as those taking part in a hearing on Idaho's nuclear industries filtered into the room.

When asked if she expected to see more of her Republican colleagues in the crowd, Buckner-Webb said that while she understood there may have been other priorities, she would have liked to have seen more lawmakers in the audience, without saying the words "Republican" or "Democrat."

"I would say I would have very much liked to have had them here," said Buckner-Webb. "Now I see some trying to walk in the door, which kind of cracks me up, ill-timed, but you know, I would have liked to have had them here. You know, we're also streaming it, so there's always the opportunity that maybe they'll hear it in another way."

Previously, Burgoyne and Buckner-Webb said they planned to have conversations with their colleagues individually.

"We've been doing that for a period of time," she said. "And again, its that intimate one-on-one conversational thing, it's not trying to shove something down somebody's throat, but rather to have a conversation and show maybe a different view, raise awarness, and show maybe a way at looking at the issue that they may not have before. I think that for a period of time it was such an emotional response, and now as you heard from the panel, they spoke to the issue from many many different perspectives."

Another reporter asked Buckner-Webb if she felt speakers were "preaching to the choir" with the day's discussion.

"It's kind of the and/both, not either/or, but and/both." she said. "Perhaps. And yet, the choir can learn new nuances; they continue to have their conversations with folks who share their view of the world."