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Last week I poked my nose through the clouds and basked in the wonders of a country that elected Barack Obama not just once, but twice.

This week, I slipped into the gutter. For over eight years, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community has struggled for lawful recognition by the state of Idaho. Currently Idaho has a Human Rights Amendment which falls short of addressing gender equality. LGBTQ couples are not guaranteed standard human rights regarding housing, employment, public accommodation, transportation, and education in Idaho. Repeated attempts to submit a bill to the legislature to correct this omission have been denied even a public hearing.

Photo by:JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

Photo by:JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

After last year’s very public and raucous standoff in which 44 citizens were arrested for their silent protest of denied hearings at the statehouse, this year’s bill was at least awarded a public hearing by the House State Affairs Committee.

Unfortunately, there is no time limit for testimonials at the meeting. On Monday, the committee endured two three-hour sessions of testimony split fairly equally between pro and con arguments.

I went to the evening session, intending to do nothing more than lend my body to the count in support of the cause. However, as I squirmed through inane reasoning spouted by opponents to the bill, I felt compelled to return the next day, prepared to voice my concern. I sat through three hours this morning but my number was not called.

Just retired Boise Chief of Police, Mike Masterson, awaits his turn to support legal codification of human rights for everyone.

Just retired Boise Chief of Police, Mike Masterson, awaits his turn to support legal codification of human rights for everyone. (Photo by Katherine Jones)

I understand this bill will make many uncomfortable, especially in this state. The strong Christian community for some odd reason believes it is their God-given right to pass judgement on the behavior of other people—particularly bedroom behavior. I expected a lot of bible thumping and fear mongering. But I was completely unprepared for the level of downright ignorance spouted by the majority of opponents to adding four words—”sexual orientation” and “gender identity”—to the Idaho Human Rights Bill.

I’m talking about individuals who stood at the podium for 20 minutes or more, ping ponging from one preposterous idea to the next with no logical connection or reasoning. One gentleman, going by the name of ProLife (I kid you not!), claimed in one sentence that he loves all the gay people. He loves everyone! Then he proclaimed that “Poor people are the spiritual reserve of the world.” This proud papa of 15 and grandpa of over 35 (he’s lost count) summed up his long and incoherent testimony with an entreaty to the LGBTQs to “Go home, get saved, and have babies!”

It is really hard to behave with the decorum demanded of us by the Chairman of the Committee. He had to bang his gavel pretty hard after that little gem.

Parts of the “Gay Agenda” rumor were trotted out reinforcing the notion that the gay community is determined to take over the world by such heinous crimes as “undermining the resolve of latent homosexuals so that their will becomes too weak to resist the temptations of homosexuality.” This is just the beginning, they warn!

There are wild claims that by adding these four words we are opening the door to sexual mayhem. Did you know that there are 50 types of gender identity listed on Facebook and this law will force us to recognize each and every ugly one of them? People confuse gender identity with incest, pedophilia, rape, and a host of other psycho-social disorders.

I wouldn’t complain about the variety of ideas coming from the opposition, if only these people could articulate their beliefs with a modicum of logic. I’m sure the quality of their arguments would not pass a sixth grade ISAT exam. These individuals are so woefully nonsensical and downright stupid that I am in awe of the hubris that compels them to display their ignorance with such unabashed pride.

Am I simply blinded by prejudice? Doesn’t the Pro-side also flaunt the laws of reason, step out of the bounds of logic? Not really. I listened pretty carefully and what I heard were reasoned discussions of legality, first and second-hand reports of abuse at the hands of homophobes, and impassioned descriptions of the tenuous territory upon which LGBTQ individuals must tread in Idaho: the secrecy, the fear of discovery, the confusion and dehumanizing efforts of young kids trying to be someone they simply are not.

In a few more hours, I’ll drag myself back downtown and steel myself to stand before the committee and state my case, logically and succinctly, I hope.