The first amendment of the US Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of religion is one which I and other advocates for Add the Words respect deeply. We respect it every bit as much as Idaho legislative leaders do.
Out of this respect, some of us have agreed and have a willingness to make clear in the bill, to spell out and reiterate the exact nature of first amendment rights as they relate to the inclusion of gay and transgender people in Idaho’s human rights act. Most notable is number 5 which assures business owners that they can not be compelled to produce speech (as in writing on a cake or printing on a t-shirt. I myself for example would never make a racist t-shirt if I owned a t-shirt shop.) This is a fundamental first amendment right. In fact, recently, higher courts appear to agree with what the language in number 5 below states.
Yes, we agree, a business must bake a cake or sell a t-shirt, but that business does not have to write on a product a message that’s different in meaning from what they would write on a product for any other customer.
The language below is what we have proposed could be included in the Idaho Human Rights Act at the addition of the enumerated classes “sexual orientation, gender identity.” The act prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodation, meaning business and government services.
The inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in this act
1. Affirms the individual religious liberties guaranteed under the provisions of the Idaho Human Rights Act, federal law the U.S. Constitution as well as other sections of Idaho code
2. Affirms the rights of churches and clergy to refuse to solemnize marriages on church grounds or as a part of activities organized by a 501c3 religious organization
3. Affirms the rights of clergy and church staff in performance of their religious duties as part of a 501c3 religious organization, to refuse solemnize any marriage or to refuse to participate in or celebrate any marriage or union
4. Affirms the right of business owners to refuse to provide products, accessories, decorations or other items not otherwise produced, included, or offered for sale to other customers by that proprietor’s businesses
5. Affirms the first amendment rights of individual business owners, including the right to refuse to customize products or produce individually tailored services if the entire product, decoration of the product, or service itself is written or verbal speech which differs substantively in content rather than in context, from that produced or made available by the business to other customers
6. Affirms the rights of business owners to establish standards of dress if the standards do not otherwise violate this act and are applied equally to all employees, with the exception of persons with disabilities needing accommodation or those exercising their rights to religious or other expression as established by federal law and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution