March 17, 2012 Leave a comment
What started out as an action of civil disobedience turned into a display of just how important the Add the Words bill is to Idaho’s LGBT community.
About 250 people turned out Thursday night for a vigil in support of the legislation. Those who worked on the bill this legislative session told the crowd that while some lawmakers have chosen for the sixth year in a row to ignore the voices of thousands of supporters, the work, courage and dedication of hundreds of volunteers has forever changed the issue in Idaho.
Retiring State Senator Edgar Malepeai, who sponsored the bill during a print hearing before the Idaho Senate State Affairs committee, told the crowd he believes that LGBT equality in Idaho is possible and called on the crowd not to give up their fight.
Idaho Senator Nicole LeFavour, who has worked on the legislation for over six years, echoed Malepeai’s words adding that while the majority of lawmakers support the legislation, some lack the political courage to do so publicly.
Before the vigil, Idaho Governor Butch Otter told KIVI-TV in Boise that some people were concerned that the campaign amounted to asking for “special protections.”
Supporters counter that there are no “special rights” contained within the legislation. The bill would grant LGBT individuals the same rights that the rest of Idaho’s population is already entitled to, including the right to not be fired based on their age, religion, race, creed or national origin.
Following the rally, over a dozen supporters chose to spend the night on the statehouse steps to show just how important the legislation was to them, their friends and their families.
The move was an act of civil disobedience after organizers were told earlier in the week that supporters would be arrested if they chose not to leave.
As the night wore on however it became clear that capital security was not interested in perusing legal action against the protestors. Instead, the action turned into a show of solidarity with the thousands of Idahoans who have yet to be guaranteed the same rights as every other Idahoan.
Boise comedian Matt Bragg told KTVB-TV in Boise, “We slept on the steps last night to represent the thousands of Idahoans who are left out in the cold every day while legislators ignore their voices.”
Following the action, Add the Words organizer Cody Hafer wrote, “We are determined, we are strong, we are NOT giving up, we are NOT letting this UNACCEPTABLE FAILURE go unnoticed. Idaho is too great for hate, and it is time to include gay and transgender (LGBT) Idahoans in our existing Human Rights Act!”
The legislative session is expected to wrap up sometime within the next week or so. Organizers say there is still time to get the legislation passed but that even if that doesn’t happen, they are calling for Idaho’s LGBT community to continue to the conversation with lawmakers and other minority groups, in hopes of getting the bill passed next year.
You can contact the following key lawmakers and ask them to support the bill before the legislation ends:
Representative Thomas F. Loertscher, TLoertsc@house.idaho.gov
Representative Max C. Black, MBlack@house.idaho.gov
Representative Eric Anderson, EAnderson@house.idaho.gov
Representative Ken Andrus, KAndrus@house.idaho.gov
Representative Carlos Bilbao, CBilbao@house.idaho.gov
Representative Lynn M. Luker, LLuker@house.idaho.gov
Representative Erik Simpson, ESimpson@house.idaho.gov
Representative Frank N. Henderson, FHenderson@house.idaho.gov
Representative Jim Guthrie, http://legislature.idaho.gov/about/contactmembersform.cfm?ID=1179