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Like many in the valley, I’m working from home as a safeguard from something that I cannot see. The statistics are growing, so I know it’s there – I just don’t know where.

Rather than attend in person, I streamed the live debate from the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives. Granted, it was not riveting entertainment, but I was interested in the outcome of a number of bills. So, I watched – and discovered a virus I could see.

With little debate, a new specialty license plate was approved - “Choose Life.” Proceeds from the plate will be split between the Idaho Transportation Department and Choose Life, a non-profit whose mission is to “help pregnant women choose life for their babies.”

It’s a worthy sentiment; I too value life. I value a quality of life that respects the worth and dignity of each individual after birth. Unfortunately, what I watched and heard were a number of our elected representatives who do not. Or if they do, it must be a value for only those who look like, worship like, believe like, or live like they do.

House Bill 500 bans trans girls and young women from participating in school sports and would potentially subject any girl perceived to be trans to an invasive medical exam. House Bill 509 prevents trans people from changing the gender marker on their Idaho birth certificate, potentially subjecting them to even greater harassment and violence when traveling, seeking health care, opening a bank account, or enrolling in school.

House Bill 440, the Anti-Affirmative Action Discrimination Bill, removes protections for marginalized people when looking for employment.

SB1385 Criminal Abortion is a “trigger” bill that would go into effect should the US Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing for attending physicians to be charged with murder. While others voiced objection to the bill on the grounds of the mother’s health, one representative added her objection to the bill - she felt that the bill did not go far enough - women who get an abortion should also be charged with murder.

Yes, another session ended without a hearing or consideration of adding the words “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the state’s Human Rights Act.

Yes, the session ended without an expansion of Medicaid protections for the most vulnerable among us.

And yes, in the final hours of the 2020 legislative session, another specialty license plate was not approved. A license plate failed the necessary vote that would enable us to proclaim that Idaho is “Too Great for Hate.”

And it made me think, that just maybe, we have elected representatives who would rather “hate thy neighbor.”

And that too is a deadly virus.

Dan Prinzing is the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights in Boise.

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