Sunday, February 1, 2015

"What would Lincoln do?" "Add the Words" Idaho

There have been a lot of stories about the Idaho Legislature’s stance about LGBT  (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). For nine years, the LGBD community  has sought equal protection using the Idaho Civil Rights Act.

For years, the LGBT community, friends, loved ones, etc. have used this tag line: "Add the Words" in reference adding four words, 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity,' to Idaho’s Human Rights Act

This year, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee finally granted the hearing. The three days of testimony was heart wrenching. The committee did not support the legislation but this was a step  in the right direction.

It is sad that in general, Republican have the perception of NOT supporting the LGBT community. I have always voted Republican.  But it seems I am “out of touch” because I am an economic conservative and a social liberal. Most of my Republican friends would add the words. Republicans are not bigots.

When I studied economics, I loved this phrase:  Laissez-faire is French term and literally means "let [them] do," but it broadly implies "let it be," "let them do as they will," or "leave it alone."   

For me, from the board room to the bedroom, "let it be."

I am hopeful that the testimony helped legislators to understand. Legislators want to do the right things. This IS right.  

My fellow Republican brethren, ask this question:  "What would Lincoln do?"

I believe Abraham Lincoln would have added the words.   

I cannot stand discrimination whether it is racial or LGBT.

From when I was I child, I “knew” that some of my friends were “different.” I did not know term “LGBT,” and I did not care. They were friends of mine regardless. They still are.

People have been asking why I care so much. I will tell you why.

When I was eight in 1970, my parents got divorced in Twin Falls, Idaho. Our mother rented a small house. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was in its infancy and enforcement was almost nonexistent.

Ultimately the landlord (A Realtor) booted out our mom and her four boys. He did not approve of a divorcee raising four boys as a single mother.

Years later, when I was the CEO of the Idaho Association of Realtor's, I made speeches for 19 years throughout Idaho about fair housing. 

I did a speech in Twin Falls (my hometown) about fair housing. After the speech, the Realtor who kicked out our family shook my hand.

I said, "Do you remember me?"

He said, "I do not think so. Should I?"

I responded saying, "When I was 8 years old, you did not approve of my mother because she was divorced. You kicked her out with four boys. Now, because of the Federal Fair Housing Law, I make speeches about housing discrimination using you as an example. My goal is to make sure that you will never hurt another person like my mother and me. You should still be ashamed."

He was very embarrassed. 

Discrimination is very personal for me, in housing and otherwise.  I do not respect bigots.

Protecting LGBT friends is just the next step.

I am hopeful that Idaho will step up and add civil rights for everyone like LGBT.  We will get there.

I am reminded of this poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out...

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out...

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out...

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For Idahoans who do not support equal rights for all, I think of the poem. Someday, it might be them suffering discrimination. 

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