On Jan. 16, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter spoke at the Capitol, saying: "Now therefore I, C.L. 'Butch' Otter, governor of the state of Idaho, do hereby proclaim Jan. 16, 2012, to be Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Day in Idaho. And I encourage Idahoans to rededicate themselves to the principles of respect for human rights and freedom of belief in nonviolence and commitment to serving the state and nation through community service and volunteerism."
Agreed, governor. Agreed. Let's rededicate ourselves to the principles of respect for human rights and to the freedom we have to express our beliefs in a nonviolent manner. Let's do exactly that. And since such lofty language is great in theory but lacking in specifics when it comes to practice, allow me to suggest a very specific way in which you can show a renewed dedication to respect for human rights. My suggestion to you, governor, is that you take this opportunity to flex some of that political muscle you've spent years in office bulking up to urge Idaho lawmakers to add the words "sexual identity" and "gender orientation" to the Idaho Human Rights Act.
In this week's edition is a story about a human-rights campaign happening right here, right now in Idaho. Add the Words is a call to action for Idaho's elected representatives to once and for all add human rights protections to a class of Idaho citizens currently denied them under the Idaho Human Rights Act: the state's LGBT citizens.
Idaho lawmakers don't believe it's acceptable to deny education to someone because he or she is Jewish or Catholic or Muslim. Idaho lawmakers don't believe a disabled Idahoan should be denied the right to housing based on his or her disability. They don't believe that skin color or age should be cause for discrimination in the workplace. Nor do most of them see the irony of endorsing a human rights act that declares "all people within the state are treated with dignity and respect" while they blatantly and intentionally ignore the words "all people," to continue excluding thousands of LGBT Idahoans.