Maryanne Jordan Add the Words

Sen. Maryanne Jordan speaking at an Add the Words rally in 2015.

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A bill that would add the words "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the Gem State's 1960s-era human rights law has been introduced in the Idaho Senate. Unfortunately, said Sen. Maryanne Jordan, who submitted the change as a personal bill on Jan. 14, that isn't a historic first.

"I submitted it last year, as well," said the senator from Boise. "I don't think this year is different; sadly, this year is the same."

Introducing personal bills that would "add the words" has become an annual tradition among Democrats in Idaho. For years, the movement that would provide housing, employment and public accommodations protections to LGBTQ people has failed to gain traction in the legislature, where concerns abound that passing such a bill would be unnecessary, or could infringe on some Idahoans' closely held religious beliefs. 

Personal bills automatically get bill numbers; the "add the words" bill's is 1226, but it hasn't yet been assigned to a committee, and Jordan was unsure that it would get a hearing.

"I would hope that we would have a hearing, though I don't know that will come to pass," she said. "My expectation is that we keep this issue on the forefront and not let it be ignored session after session."

In 2015, a similar bill surfaced in the Senate State Affairs Committee, and over three days, the committee heard testimony, chiefly from supporters, who said it would extend essential civil protections and create a legal framework that could curtail violence and discrimination targeted toward LGBTQ people.

Opponents of the measure also testified, saying the proposal could traipse on their religiously based beliefs about gender and sexuality. Ultimately, that bill was voted down by the committee.

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