An Idaho House committee on Thursday killed a bill that sought to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin in employment, housing, education and public accommodations.

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted 13-4 along party lines, with Democrats voting in the minority, to kill the so-called “Add the Words” bill after hearing more than 20 hours of public testimony over three days.

House Minority Leader John Rusche called his bill “very simple.”

“It enhances Idaho's freedom,” he said. “It simply states that sexual orientation, or gender identity, cannot be used to deny rights and opportunities available to all Idahoans.”

Republican leaders have resisted holding a hearing on the proposed legislation for nine years. A protest at the statehouse last year calling for a hearing ended with dozens of arrests.

According to the Eye on Boise blog, supporters outstripped opponents nearly 2.5 to 1, with 134 people testifying in favor of the bill and 54 against.

Among those testifying was Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council (FRC).

Sprigg warned lawmakers that such laws “prepare the way for reverse discrimination.”

“The more open homosexuals and transgendered people become, the more people who hold traditional values will be forced to conceal their sincerely-held personal beliefs – or face punishment for expressing them. This has happened even when an employee's views are expressed outside of work, and even when no explicit reference is made to sexual orientation or gender identity,” he testified.