Idaho State Capitol building on Jan. 11, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for the Idaho Capital Sun)
A bill that would allow contractors in Idaho to disregard a federal executive order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for certain projects was introduced in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday morning.
Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, sponsored Senate Bill 1003. He explained that former President Barack Obama amended an executive order in 2014 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as factors that could not be discriminated against or granted preferential treatment in federal contracting, along with race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
“The net effect is that public works contractors in my district and probably in your own are being asked to sign contracts … wherein they guarantee that they will not segregate the multi-use restroom facilities or locker facilities for their employees based on gender identity or sexual orientation, or any of the other items listed in the Civil Rights Act,” Herndon said. “They are affirming that they would allow a biological male who identifies as a woman to use biological female restroom facilities or changing facilities.”
Because the Idaho Legislature can’t change federal law, Herndon’s bill would allow projects that only use state and local funding to disregard that provision of contracting and not provide access to multiple-occupancy restrooms, shower facilities or changing rooms on any basis other than biological sex. The bill defines biological sex as the physical condition of being male or female as stated on a birth certificate.
“It’s not testing someone’s biological sex, it’s not talking about their claims of gender identity, it’s simply saying we’re not going to require our public works contractors … to include this provision regarding segregated facilities on that basis,” Herndon said.
Sen. Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs, voted to introduce the bill in committee, and no senators dissented. The bill could receive a full hearing in the coming weeks of the session.
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