Republicans on the Senate State Affairs Committee declined Friday to introduce a bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Idaho's human rights law. The law would extend protections in employment, housing, education and public accommodation.
The committee's two Democrats favored printing the bill, authored by committee member Edgar Malepeai of Pocatello, who was joined by Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum.
Malepeai took a long pause as he made his case for a public hearing on the bill, fighting back tears, and apologized to the committee for "my emotional breakdown."
Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said no apology was necessary, and Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, told Malepeai he appreciated his passion and expressed respect for Malepeai. McKenzie later said that had there been a roll call, he would have voted to introduce the bill. The measure died on a voice vote.
No public testimony was taken, which is the custom for hearings on bill introduction.
The vote was taken without debate.
About 300 proponents attended the hearing. After the short meeting ended, people placed about 30 sticky notes on the committee dais. Then then gathered in the hallway outside the committee room to sing "We Shall Overcome."
Earlier, McKenzie moved the hearing to accommodate the crowd. Before the meeting Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, expressed skepticism that the crowd would convince McKenzie to move the hearing.
"They're not going to move it," she said.
After McKenzie announced the move, LeFavour said, "He's great. I don't expect him to be a bear about anything."
LeFavour is Idaho's only openly lesbian or gay lawmaker.
Live streaming of the hearing is
available on Idaho Public TV.
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