Testimony on “Add the Words” Continues at Idaho Capitol
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho House committee resumes hearing testimony today on legislation that would create protections for gays and lesbians in the state. Gay rights advocates gave emotional testimony in more than four hours of hearings yesterday. Opponents fear the legislation would infringe on the rights of individuals and business owners.
KTVB reports hundreds of Idahoans flocked to the Statehouse Monday to testify in front of lawmakers concerning a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state's Human Rights Act.
The legislation, commonly called the "Add the Words" bill, had been denied a public hearing for nine consecutive years. On Monday, 70 people testified before the House State Affairs Committee during two sessions. Comments were evenly split for and against the bill. According to the Sergeant at Arms office, more than 260 people signed up throughout the day to address committee members on the issue.
Testifiers filled every seat in the Lincoln Auditorium in the Idaho Capitol as well as three overflow rooms to start the day. The hearing started at 8 a.m. and ended at 11:30 a.m. as representatives had to be on the House floor. During the morning session about 30 people spoke for and against House Bill 2. If passed, the bill would add protections to Idaho law for gay and transgender people in housing, employment and public accommodations.
Republican state Rep. Tom Loertscher did not designate a time limit for each speaker, but he urged everyone to keep their comments short because of the large number of people wanting to testify. The hearing resumed at 5:00 p.m. Monday night and continued until about 9:15 p.m.