Panel favors amending Human Rights Act to include gays

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- A panel of business and community leaders all agree, ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is good for business.

"Most importantly, you need acceptance," said Clark Krause, CEO of Boise Valley Economic Partnership. "So people who come to do business or grow businesses here feel safe here."

The panel discussion at the Statehouse was organized by Democrats who have written the latest bill to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act to include discrimination protection for gay, lesbian and transgender Idahoans.

The City of Boise recently passed just such a municipal ordinance.

"When you take a realistic look at the image of Idaho in the rest of the country, it's terrifying," said Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan.

For Steve Martin of Boise, this discussion was more than just talk.

As a gay man in Idaho, he lives the feeling of discrimination.

"I want to know that my partner, my lifetime companion, will be able to be there for me legally, and I can be there for him," Martin said. "Without these protections, there is uncertainty."

Democrats sent personal invitations to all legislators to attend this panel discussion. Not many showed up, but Democrats say they'll continue to try and convince their Republican colleagues now is the time to amend Idaho Human Rights Act.