Give the Idaho Legislature credit for this much.
On its way out of town last week, it refused to engage in blatant hypocrisy.
Only a group of hypocrites would proclaim Idaho is “Too Great to Hate” on a special license plate. By the narrowest of margins — 30-32 — House members refused. Doing otherwise would have placed a patina of respectable gloss over a pile of steaming political garbage.
Nobody’s questioning the sincerity of the measure’s sponsor, retiring Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise. Her idea was aspirational. It spoke to the best instincts of the Idaho people. And it was intended to provide financial resources toward the Wassmuth Center’s Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.
No longer the party of Lincoln, Idaho’s GOP has come to stand for exclusion, intolerance and just plain mean spiritedness. Before it refused to declare Idaho “too great to hate,” the GOP-led Legislature assaulted those who are few in number, politically marginalized and vulnerable.
Here’s a synopsis:
l House Bill 500 — Who in his or her right mind would pass Rep. Barbara Ehardt’s ban on transwomen and girls from joining female athletics?
Only a lawmaker capable of ignoring the dearth of such conflicts in Idaho.
Only someone willing to disregard Idaho’s already strict policy, which follows NCAA and International Olympic Committee standards.
Only someone who can shut out the concerns of corporate Idaho — including the Idaho National Laboratory, Chobani, Clif Bar, Hewlett-Packard and Micron.
Only someone willing to blow taxpayer money on what Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and five of his predecessors have declared would be a futile defense of the ban in the federal courts.
By the way, the intellectual underpinnings have been yanked out from beneath Ehardt’s work. Three times, the bill quotes Duke University professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman — who last week said her work had been distorted and urged Gov. Brad Little to veto the measure.
l House Bill 509 — Who cares what the federal courts say? Certainly not the people running the Idaho Legislature. Two years ago, the state was told to stop prohibiting transgender people from amending gender markers on their birth certificates. So the GOP-led Legislature rushed out and passed Rep. Julianne Young’s measure reinstating that policy. Wasden’s shop says the measure sets up a legal battle that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and cost the state $1 million if it loses.
l House Bill 465 — Just to make themselves clear, Idaho’s culture warriors wrote a bill that would have charged any doctor providing gender treatment to a minor with a felony. You have to wonder how far this measure would have proceeded had it not been for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Greg Chaney, who killed it for the most expedient of reasons — defending it in court would be foolhardy. That didn’t mean Cheney wasn’t sympathetic to Rep. Christy Zito’s aims: “I don’t believe that providing hormones and surgery to someone with gender dysphoria is any less cruel than giving weight loss pills and ‘fat shaming’ someone with weight dysphoria (anorexia).”
l House Bill 440 — Idaho was never going to impose racial or minority quotas in hiring or public contracting. But where was the harm in pursuing affirmative action in limited circumstances? Say, for instance, a community with a large Hispanic population looked over a pool of equally qualified applicants and opted to diversify its police force. No more.
Not only does Rep. Heather Scott’s bill declare the practice illegal, it also turns Idaho’s Human Rights Act on its head.
Nor can you say individual lawmakers were just having a bad day.
It wasn’t even close.
Only six Republicans — including Sen. Dan Johnson of Lewiston and Reps. Bill Goesling of Moscow and Caroline Nilsson Troy’s designated replacement Jennifer Seegmiller — voted against Ehardt’s transgender sports ban.
Only four Republicans — including Sen. Carl Crabtree of Grangeville — stood up to Scott’s evisceration of affirmative action.
Only two Republicans — none from north central Idaho — voted against Young’s mischief with birth certificates.
The region’s lone Democrat, Sen. David Nelson of Moscow, voted against all three.
So is it any wonder that all 32 votes that condemned Buckner-Webb’s good intentions to defeat came from House Republicans? Among them were Goesling, Priscilla Giddings of White Bird, Mike Kingsley of Lewiston, Paul Shepherd of Riggins and Thyra Stevenson of Nezperce.
Whatever else these people have done, they’ve not sugar-coated their values.
Idaho too great to hate?
The hell it isn’t. — M.T.