Thursday, January 30, 2014

Idaho Bills Could Endanger Local Anti-Discrimination Bans

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 11:06 AM

LGBT rights advocates worry that two bills introduced this week in the Idaho Legislature could undermine local anti-discrimination ordinances, Boise State Public Radio reports.

Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker has proposed two bills he says will shield Idaho businesses and professionals refusing service or employment to individuals for faith reasons. Luker cited an instance in Oregon, in which a bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, as his reason for introducing the bills.

"This is pre-emptive," he told the Associated Press. "The issue is coming."

The first bill protects businesses that require state licensing to operate against state or local intervention in the event that they refuse to provide goods or services to individuals for religious reasons. The second would do the same for professionals like doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers, though the bill does include exceptions for medical emergencies.

But gay rights advocates are saying that the bills will be disastrous for anti-discrimination ordinances passed by seven Idaho cities.

"What this change means is people can use their religion to discriminate against people and actually use that as a defense in any litigation that may come from it," Monica Hopkins of ACLU Idaho told BSPR.

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