State leaders have made it clear they're not interested in extending anti-discrimination protections to the gay and lesbian community. At the start of 2009, I watched members of the Senate State Affairs Committee barely give Sen. Nicole LeFavour the courtesy of their attention before quickly voting against printing her bill to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act to include LGBT protections in the workplace, education and housing. A week before LeFavour was shot down by her fellow senators, the Idaho Human Rights Commission--an organization tasked specifically with "ensuring that all people within the state are treated with dignity and respect"--voted against supporting LeFavour's proposed legislation.
While the current situation is disheartening and frustrating, what's most shocking about it is that most people don't even know LGBT protections aren't in place.
Turn to page 11. The lines under the "Anonymous" photo in this week's main feature read: "Under Idaho state law, there are no legal protections for either jobs or housing because of sexuality. There are protections in cases of gender, race, religion, national origin and age."
As the editorial department sat around the conference room table readying the piece for print, several staffers gasped at that line. One asked if it was actually true. Later, I conducted an informal poll around BWHQ, asking my colleagues if they were aware of the fact that it's legal to fire someone simply for their gender identification or sexual orientation. Resoundingly, the answer from my straight colleagues was "no."
This is my third Pride issue as editor of Boise Weekly, and I'm weary of writing every June that Idaho's treatment of its gay and lesbian citizens is inexcusably bigoted. Every person photographed in this week's feature knows the risks associated with being public about their sexuality, but not all of Boise Weekly's readers do. How many of you straight readers out there know that anti-discrimination laws are not extended to the LGBT community? Now how many of you are willing to do something about it? It's not enough for those enduring discrimination to fight for their own rights. Those of us who enjoy discrimination protection whether we're women, disabled, Jewish or Muslim, black or Asian, old or young, have to join that fight. But first, people have to know that discrimination is still acceptable under Idaho law.