Otter congratulates Gov. Brewer for vetoing bill allowing refusal of service to gays

While he wouldn’t comment on what he would have done had a similar bill reached his desk, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said Thursday that he congratulates Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for her veto Wednesday of a bill that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.

“I tried to call her this morning to congratulate her on making a decision and to support her in the decision she made about Arizona,” Otter said. “I think that’s her prerogative, I think she did the right thing.”

But Otter declined comment on a question from KBOI-TV’s Scott Logan about whether he would have done the same thing had Boise GOP Rep. Lynn Luker’s House Bill 427 passed the Legislature and reached his desk.

“There are a lot of differences between Arizona and Idaho,” Otter said. “I’m not going to comment on that because I think we’ve got some other things in the works — especially in terms of lawsuits — on what I would or would not do.”

Otter is a defendant in a case filed in federal court in November by four Idaho lesbian couples seeking to overturn the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.

Last week, Luker withdrew a bill mirroring the vetoed Arizona legislation, saying it was intended to protect the free exercise of religion, but was misinterpreted to be a “sword for discrimination.” A hearing on his measure lasted nearly four hours and drew hundreds to the Capitol, mostly opponents.

Luker says he respects concerns he heard and as a result plans to take more time to work on the bill, which he proposed in the wake of cases in Oregon and New Mexico where gay people who were refused service brought claims against businesses. The same examples were cited by lawmakers in Arizona.

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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