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Wed February 5, 2014
Idaho House Panel Keeps Religious Freedom Bill Alive Despite Public Opposition
Updated Feb. 5 at 12:54 p.m.:
A House panel kept alive a measure to protect religious people sued for refusing to serve customers they believe violate their faith.
The State Affairs Committee voted 11-5 Wednesday to send the bill to the House floor, where it could get amendments.
All supporters were Republicans.
Two Republicans joined three Democrats against the bill.
The hearing focused on Republican Rep. Lynn Luker's measure updating a 14-year-old law focusing on religious rights.
Currently, Luker said, faithful people can use this law only if they're sued by government, not if they're sued by individuals.
Nearly everyone, from Idaho Episcopalian church leaders to gay rights activists, opposed Luker's measure, fearing it enshrines discrimination in law.
One of two supporters to speak, Julie Lynde, said it closed a loophole that left religious freedoms vulnerable.
Dozens packed an Idaho House committee, nearly all of them against a measure to help shield religious people if they're sued for doing things like refusing to serve those who they believe violate their faith.
Wednesday's hearing focused on Republican Rep. Lynn Luker's bill updating a 14-year-old law focusing on religious rights.
Currently, Luker said, faithful people can use this law if they're sued by government, but not if they're sued by individuals.
He wants to make that expansion.
Nearly everyone, from members of Idaho's Episcopalian church to gay rights activists, opposed Luker's measure, fearing it enshrines protections for discrimination in law.
One supporter, conservative activist Julie Lynde, called it a measure to close a loophole that left people's religious freedoms vulnerable.
The House State Affairs Committee hasn't yet voted.