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Idaho Halts Gay Bill, Cites Faith Freedom Concerns

01-31-2015

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho lawmakers have voted to halt a bill that would create protections for gays and lesbians, siding with the concerns of religious freedom supporters.

The House State Affairs Committee -made up of the Legislature's most conservative lawmakers- voted 13-4 to hold the bill in committee and prevent it from moving onto the House floor for a vote. Only Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

The proposal would have included the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in Idaho's Human Rights Act. The law already bans discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin in situations like housing or employment.

In the end, Republican lawmakers decided that the bill's lack of definition of the addition of the four words was too great of a risk to the religious community. Primarily, lawmakers said that they feared the law would force a person to go against their held beliefs.

The Alliance Defending Freedom hailed the decision as a victory for religious freedom.

"The proposed legislation would have had adverse effects on churches, schools, and businesses, and would have interfered with the ability of every Idahoan to live and work according to the dictates of his or her conscience," ADF Legal Counsel Ken Connelly, who testified before the committee, said.

"The proper role of government is to protect and affirm our freedoms, not to assign itself coercive powers over the lives and minds of citizens," he continued. The committee rightly refused to leave citizens open to legal attacks simply because they exercise their most basic constitutionally protected rights."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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