This has been an extremely busy week in the Capitol building. Not only is it Education Week, so the halls are full of student groups from schools all over the state, but the Add the Words bill has had hearings each day this week and there have been throngs of people waiting to get into the auditorium. I didn’t take a photo of the packed hallways on the first day, Monday, but here’s one of the auditorium, which holds more than 400, on the evening of the second day of testimony, and you can see it is still quite full. And the committee has not reached a decision yet.
The Add the Words group has been pushing for a hearing on this bill for years, staging frequent protests outside and inside the Capitol each of the last several sessions. So this year the bill is being heard by the House State Affairs committee. They will be voting on it today.
Add the Words is legislation which proposes to insert the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to our state’s human rights law. I understand there were efforts to have protections for religious beliefs included in the bill as well, but the makers of the bill were unwilling. If the House State Affairs committee passes it today, it has to go to the full House for a vote. If passed there, it would go to the Senate State Affairs committee, then to the full Senate, where I would finally get a vote on the issue.
But it does not seem likely this bill will pass the House committee vote today. Testimony has been running about even for both sides, but the lack of compromise by the makers may affect the outcome. I don’t know for sure, it’s just my guess at this point. Stay tuned!