BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Senate on Thursday approved a measure banning affirmative action for state agencies, state contracting and public education.
The Senate voted 25-10 to pass the legislation that adds a new section to laws that opponents said negates another section prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or age.
Senators amended the legislation that was previously approved by the House. That means it must now go back to the House for lawmakers there to vote on the amended version.
Opponents said Idaho has a history of discriminatory behavior against marginalized groups that persists, and the measure would allow that behavior to continue.
This bill “is a step back into the Jim Crow era,” said Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, who is black, referring to the era before the civil rights movement.
“Mainstream dominant culture has never had to feel the brunt of the discrimination we’ve had for many, many years,” she said.
Backers say treating everyone simply for who they are rather than their gender or skin color is the intent of the legislation.
“The reality of it is, this is maybe a goal that is unobtainable, but I think we have to try,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder.