Guest Opinions

I’m a lawyer and lawmaker. But because I’m gay, Idaho law doesn’t protect my freedoms

Rep. John McCrostie, left, and Rep. Melissa Wintrow console each other in the Capitol after the House State Affairs Committee voted down a bill to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act in January 2015.
Rep. John McCrostie, left, and Rep. Melissa Wintrow console each other in the Capitol after the House State Affairs Committee voted down a bill to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act in January 2015. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

I am an educator, a lawyer and an elected state lawmaker. I work with Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives.

I fight to ensure that Idaho children get the best education possible so they can pursue whatever dreams they can imagine.

I am a husband. I am a lifelong Idahoan. I play in a few bands.

I am also gay.

In Idaho, I can be fired from my job or denied housing just for that reason.

Although the word “law” exists in two of my titles, Idaho law does not protect all of my American freedoms and liberties.

As Idahoans celebrate Pride this weekend in Boise, and similar celebrations around the state this summer, we celebrate the independence, strength and perseverance that exists in all Idahoans and Americans.

We celebrate the opportunities this country affords us to work hard and get ahead. To put a roof over our family’s head and support the ones we love. We celebrate the strength it takes to wage a decades-long battle to update our Human Rights Act to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to prevent Idaho’s LGBTQ+ community from being denied jobs, homes and services in our state.

If you talk with the tens of thousands of people attending any of our statewide Pride celebrations, you will find some common themes. They are angered by Idaho’s failure to invest in all levels of education, from preschool through college. They are alarmed by the thousands of good-paying jobs that go unfilled every year in this state and the hundreds of millions of dollars in wages that go unclaimed. They are sick of shipping their federal dollars to Washington, D.C., to pay for health care in other states while their state and local taxes are used to overpay for emergency care. They are fiercely protective of our public lands. In short, they are ordinary Idahoans who value opportunity, fairness and hard work. Many of them just happen to be LGBTQ+.

Boise Pride is a testament to the strong work ethic that defines us as Idahoans. The event started as a small gathering nearly 30 years ago. Last year, more than 30,000 people made the trip to downtown Boise to celebrate. Thousands more will do the same in cities and towns across Idaho this summer. From their humble origins, Pride celebrations have evolved into events that bring more and more Idahoans together. They have become a celebration of unity and shared aspirations.

While my husband and I may be denied certain liberties that other Idahoans and Americans enjoy, we celebrate who we are, loving who we love, and living as our authentic selves. We hope that all Idahoans will do the same.

Rep. John McCrostie lives in Garden City and represents District 16 in the Idaho Legislature.

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