A New Day: Why We Can’t Afford to Let Idaho Lawmakers Ignore Us!
March 14, 2012 6 Comments
So Idaho’s state lawmakers are talking about wrapping up the session and heading home. Home to their farms, ranches and offices, their cozy kitchens, their husbands and wives and their full-time lives.
Meanwhile, in the coming months, somewhere in Idaho another person will be harassed and or brutally beaten because of their sexuality. They will be forced to choose over reporting the crime or suffering in silence, lest someone finds out he or she is gay.
Somewhere in Idaho another gay person will lose their job because their boyfriend or girlfriend brought them a rose at work or because they dared to hang a picture of their significant other in a cubical, just like all the rest of their co-workers. The difference, as will be subtly pointed out to them during a talk from their supervisor over a need to cut their hours, is that their co-workers aren’t “flaunting” their agenda.
“It is, after all, a small town,” he or she will be told. “We have a family friendly image to uphold.”
Somewhere in Idaho, in the coming months, another same-sex couple will be denied a place to live because,”it’s a one bedroom apartment, and we don’t really want any “kinky” stuff going on in the complex.”
It matters not that they’ve been together longer then the apartment manager or any of their would-be neighbors, discrimination is never about logic or reason.
A gay couple will get thrown out of a taxi somewhere because they were caught holding hands, a college or university will deny a professor a job because of his or her sexuality, a church official with a grudge will threaten to “out” one of its members, a lesbian mom will have to pay thousands of extra dollars in legal fees to prove to the courts and to her straight soon to be ex-husband that she is indeed a “fit” mother in her divorce case.
Somewhere in Idaho within the coming year, another young adult will be forced to decide between being who he or she is and loosing a scholarship, a job opportunity and possibly even their family.
One wonders if the leadership within the Idaho legislature will even give these individuals another thought, if they have at all.
It’s not as if they can claim they didn’t know what is going on or how hard it is to be part of the LGBT community in Idaho.
For six years they’ve ignored the stories, the voices and the call to be heroes to thousands.
This year though many lawmakers just plain lied.
“I wasn’t aware discrimination against the LGBT community was a problem in Idaho,” one longtime lawmaker wrote slickly to her constituent.
Having talked to several people who have approached the subject with her before, it’s pretty obvious the lawmaker was choosing to stick her head in the sand rather than publicly acknowledge the problem.
“This bill will lead to gay marriage,” another told their local newspaper when asked about the legislation.
The reporter failed to point out that Idaho’s human rights act has nothing to do with marriage at all.
“I haven’t seen the bill,” said the House Speaker to a group of reporters, before going on to state that he didn’t intend to give the bill a hearing anyway.
Never mind the fact that the bill has been around for the past six years. Never mind the fact that he has refused to return the call of the volunteers working for the legislation. Never mind the fact that he has yet to see any sort of official document because his fellow party members have refused to even print the damn thing, let alone listen to the hundreds of voices from around the state the legislation would affect.
When asked after the now infamous print hearing, in which over 200 people attended to show their support, what needed to be done to help curb the discrimination against the LGBT community in Idaho, if not the bill he had just voted not to move forward, the now former State Senator John McGee arrogantly told a reporter that more “education was needed” and he left it at that.
He failed to mention that a person maybe fired, lose their housing or be denied other services for such “education” efforts.
Not that his verbal answer mattered that much anyway. The smirk on his face the following the 7-2 vote not to print the bill that morning contained more truth about how he felt about the community than any non-answer answer he could ever give to any reporter anyway.
And so after ignoring, lying and again shutting out the voices of their constituents, lawmakers are getting ready to wrap things up and head home for another year.
“Sine die,” they call it.
It means “without day.”
I, for one, believe that even if one member of our community in Idaho is discriminated against, hurt, or rejected we continue to live our lives “without day.”
The voices of those who have gone before us can tell us what it’s like to live as shadows, from the “Boys of Boise” fiasco to the man or woman who lost everything because he or she was labeled a “homosexual.”
They know all to well what it’s like to live their lives in the oppressive night of discrimination’s darkness.
I, for one, refuse to live “without day” any longer.
On Thursday night, March 15th, we will have one more opportunity to let our lawmakers know this session that the night for the LGBT community in Idaho is over. We have the opportunity to let them know that we will no longer be tolerated their arrogance, their slick political verbiage and, in many cases, their blatant homophobia.
Will you be there?
Will you give voice and, by your presence, strength to the shout that they can no longer ignore the discrimination and pleas of Idaho’s LGBT community?
It’s time for a new day in Idaho.
A new day in which every Idahoan can go home without the worry of being hurt or harmed simply for being part of a sexual minority, a new day when we can all go to our jobs and occupations without worrying about being fired or harassed simply because we choose to love another of our own gender, a new day when we respect every individual based on their individuality rather than their sexual orientation, gender identity, political status, or religion.
I, for one, believe that new day is already here.
(Thursday’s vigil will be held from 8:00-9:00 pm on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse in Boise. “It is time to gather together with signs and FLASHLIGHTS and let the Idaho Lawmakers know that their failure to hear the Idaho Human Rights Act amendment bill, for yet another year, was UNACCEPTABLE,” says the event Facebook Event page.)