NAMPA • Members of an Idaho gay rights group are pleased with news that Mormons in Utah are working to craft a state measure to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday that “attorneys for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in quiet discussions with leaders of Utah’s gay and lesbian community, trying to hammer out language for a statewide ban on housing and employment discrimination that the church could support.”
The talks have given hope to Idaho’s Add the Words campaign that Idaho will adopt similar legislation. Add the Words wants to change the Idaho Human Rights Act to include the words sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Our official statement on the matter would be how excited we are to see so many people of so many different faiths beginning to back this type of legislation,” Add the Words co-chairwoman Mistie Tolman said.
If the LDS Church — Utah’s largest faith to which nearly 90 percent of the state’s Legislature belongs, reports the Tribune — were to endorse the anti-discrimination bill, it would be a major boost for efforts to pass the legislation, which has failed the past several years.
Efforts to pass similar legislation in Idaho have also failed in past years. Many members of Idaho’s Legislature are also members of the LDS Church.
Caldwell Republican Sen. Jim Rice is an LDS Church member. He declined comment on a potential church decision, but said the Add the Words legislation is not needed.
“All it does is create litigation that isn’t necessary,” Rice said. “Most people aren’t doing that (discrimination) anyway.
“People just need to be nice to each other. It’s a better answer than legislation.”
A state ban on workplace, housing and other discrimination against Idaho gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered residents has gained the support of Idaho pastors from various Christian religions, Tolman said.
“To have the support of the LDS religion is really exciting,” Tolman said.
No legislation on the topic has been attempted in Idaho this session.