Former Republican Governor of Idaho speaks in support of LGBT rights

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86-year-old Phil Batt, one of the most popular former Republican governors of Idaho, expressed his support for LGBT rights when receiving the Idaho Human Rights Lifetime Achievement Award.

When receiving the award last Tuesday, he said, “A homosexual who can’t rent a room or get a job because of his orientation doesn’t make any sense to anybody.” Adding, “Why some of the politicians are not more sensitive than that—more sensible, I should say, than that—beats me.”

He also said that the refusal to legislate the law did nothing “except [make legislators]look like fools.”

Batt was elected governor of Idaho in 1994, ending a twenty-four year run of Democratic control. Before that, he spent four years serving as lieutenant governor, from 1979 to 1983. He is known for his advocacy of human rights, including speaking out against white supremacy groups and fighting for the proper treatment of farm workers and immigrants.

Batt has endorsed Idaho’s eight years long “Add the Words” campaign, which aims to introduce gender identity and sexual orientation into the Human Rights Act.

Reportedly, Batt also drew attention to the fact that when he was born in 1927, the Emancipation Proclamation was a mere sixty-four years old. “It’s interesting to think about how recently these things occurred,” Batt said. “We have made marvelous steps forward since then.”

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