In a recent op-ed, Senator Brent Hill argued against adding the words “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to Idaho Human Rights codes, unless people can be exempted from human rights for religious reasons. He said: “the only viable solution is a balanced approach” and we should be “seeking fairness rather than unilateral advantage”.
With language like “balanced approach” and “fairness”—Senator Hill joins a long line of legislators who have kept similar bills from the floor for over 9 years. He has forgotten how long we have left friends in danger because the legislators’ refuse to see their lives as worthy of protection. We question how “fair” it is for the political party with complete control of Idaho politics to hold a group facing daily discrimination hostage to compromise. Currently the GOP has the only “unilateral advantage”. Hill doesn’t want compromise, he offers legislative extortion of people without power and intentionally left vulnerable to oppression by the State of Idaho.
Hill continues to impose his views on Idahoans who are gay, lesbian, or transgender. He ignores the voices of faith leaders in Idaho whose faith compels us to work for safety and inclusion in the public sphere. As the legislature continues through its 2019 session, 67 percent of Idahoans believe it should be against the law to discriminate against people who are gay, lesbian, transgender. Senator Hill even admits that these people are in real danger, and still recommends we do nothing. Hill refuses to Add the Words.
A religious exemption from human rights codes is not compromise. Telling conservative Christians they don’t have to obey state law and can freely discriminate against people is exempting them from the laws of our land. Add the Words is not about how people behave in religious settings. It is about how they behave in society. You are free to practice your religion as exclusively as you want in your worship, but in the public sphere, discrimination must not be codified into law.
Our faiths compel us to seek protections for our LGBTQIA+ siblings. We affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all people and we seek justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. Jesus teaches, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:25-27) Add the words embodies all of these teachings, and more.
People of faith can disagree about human sexuality, but people opposed to adding the words are choosing to privilege a few verses of Scripture over the thrust of the entire Scripture, which insists, no less than 36 times, “You shall not oppress the stranger”.
Our faith compels us to support Senator Maryanne Jordan’s Add the Words bill. And while we are willing to accept Senator Hill’s invitation to conversation, the only fairness and balance we will entertain is the full protection of the law for the LGBT community.
Rev. Marci Auld Glass, Pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise
Rabbi Dan Fink, Rabbi of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise
Rev. Dr Andrew Kukla, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Boise
Rev. Sara Lawall, Minister of Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Rev. Jenny Willison Hirst, Associate Minister at Collister United Methodist Church in Boise
Rev. Katey Schwind Williams, Minister of Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Caldwell
Rev. Cathy Cummings Chisholm, Minister of Vision & Discernment, Kendall Presbytery, Idaho Falls
Rev. Jenny Peek, Minister of Pocatello Unitarian and Universalist Church
Rev. Gretchen Bingea, Minister of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Boise
Rev. Karen Hernandez, Sage District Superintendent, United Methodist Church
Rev. Barbara Condon, Idaho resident serving as Interim Minister at St Paul Lutheran Church in Ontario, OR
Rev. Dr. Ruth Hicks, Visitation Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Boise
Rev. Mary Ellen Gallagher, All Saints Episcopal Church in Boise
Rev. Daryl R. Wilson, Executive for the Presbytery of Boise
The Rev. Rich Demarest, Dean- St. Michael’s Cathedral in Boise
Rev. Marcus Schlegel-Preheim, Minister of Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship in Boise
Rev. Regina Herman, Pastor of New Day Lutheran Church, Idaho Falls
Father Jesus Camacho, Assisting Priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Boise
The Rev. D. Lotha Pietz+, Retired Pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, member of King of Glory Lutheran in Boise
Rev. Meggan H. Manlove, Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Nampa
Rev. Brenda Sene, Senior Pastor at Hillview United Methodist Church
Rev. Ruth Goldthwaite, Presbyterian Church (USA) Minister, Boise
Rev. Dr. Duane Anders, Pastor of Cathedral of the Rockies, United Methodist Church in Boise
Rev. Rob Walters, Pastor at Cathedral of the Rockies, United Methodist Church in Boise
Rev. Ruth Marsh, Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Idaho Falls
Rev. Buddy Gharring, Pastor of Twin Falls United Methodist Church
Rev. Elizabeth Greene, Minister Emerita, Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Mother Shayshoshewa Dawe, leader of Amaraji Maha Marai and Society of the Compassionate Heart/Sacred Mountain Monastery, Boise
The Interfaith Equality Coalition
Debbie Mallis, Convener of Interfaith Equality Coalition, United Methodist, Boise
Kristin McKie, member, Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Peggy McGee, Risen Christ Catholic Community parishioner
Neysa Jensen, member of First United Methodist Church in Boise
Jim Bigelow, Chair of the Social Justice Council at the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Julie Anderson, Elder, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise
Carolyn Blackhurst, Elder, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise, Meridian resident
Bill Buckendorf, Deacon, Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Caldwell
Madeline Buckendorf, Deacon, Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Caldwell
Jo-Ann Kachigian, member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church and Hillview United Methodist Church
Drew Harenberg, member, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise
Ann Dearson, member, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise
Denise Smithers, Deacon, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise
Shelley Axtell, member, First Congregational Church (UCC) in Boise
Rebekah Harvey, Elder, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise
Sue Stadler, member, Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
(If you are a faith leader in Idaho and would like to add your name to this statement, please indicate so in the comments and I will add your name to the list).