Add the Words Idaho continues 11-year fight for change

Posted at 2:27 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 01:31:33-05

This year marks the 11th legislative session Add the Words Idaho and supporting groups have petitioned Idaho lawmakers to add the words "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the Idaho Human Right's Act. 

Group leaders say they won't slow down until their mission is accomplished.

"We'd certainly like to stop coming here with the same ambitions and goals, but we feel that lawmakers have a moral obligation to update the Idaho Human Right's Act and include sexual orientation and gender identity," Add the Words Chair Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln says.  "That hasn't changed. The motivations haven't changed. The stories that we hear from community members across the state haven't changed. The need for protections are still there."

Though gay marriage is legal in the state of Idaho, Add the Words advocates contend gay and transgender Idahoans are not protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

"The fact that I can legally marry is a very small component," Gaona-Lincoln says. "The fact that I could still be denied service or kicked out of my home or fired from my job for being gay is a critical [issue] for people when it prevents them from reaching their full potential."

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, is a proponent for Add the Words legislation inside the Idaho Senate. 

"I believe most people in the legislature are people of good will who would like to see people live and work and have whole lives, but some of the misconceptions slow some folks down," Buckner-Webb says. "There are... I believe, people that have good intent that would be willing to support this bill."

A list of events organized by Add the Words Idaho is available on the group's website and Facebook page