Add The Words, Idaho

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A non-arrest, silent protest
A mass demonstration on Presidents Day 2014
Nicole LeFavour, speaking at a bail benefit held at the Visual Arts Collective, presents a few of the activists who had been arrested

Add The Words, Idaho is an LGBT activist group and Political action committee (PAC) in the United States, extant since 2010,[1] which advocates adding the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's human rights act; this group grew out of several others which had been advocating the same. After eight years, however, such a proposed bill[2] had never even been allowed to be filed by the Republican-majority legislature for a hearing,[2] whereupon an associated all-volunteer direct action group, Add The 4 Words Idaho, under the leadership of former state senator Nicole LeFavour, undertook a series of civil disobedience protests beginning on February 3, 2014 at the Statehouse.[3][4][5][6][7][8] (Although both groups? are commonly conflated as Add The Words, this article is about both the series of peaceful direct actions/protests and the associated peaceful demonstrations.)

Under the leadership of the Add the 4 Words group, 44 people were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, having blocked the Idaho Senate's entrances for more than two hours in a silent protest[9] two months in the planning.[10][11][12][13] Three of those arrested were juveniles, and LeFavour herself was, unexpectedly,[14] the last person to be arrested after the Idaho Senate voted to suspend its rule which allows former members to be on the Senate floor.[15]

Add The 4 Words Idaho announced in a press release that "We are here to insist the Idaho Legislature finally add four words, 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity,' to Idaho’s Human Rights Act to prevent the suicides, beatings, loss of jobs, evictions and the fear that too many gay and transgender Idahoans live with every day. We do this for those who live in fear and those who may despair this year if no one speaks for them.... Gay and transgender Idahoans have tried every means to get the Legislature to consider the ‘Add the Words’ legislation. If the Legislature again chooses to ignore us and not hear or vote on the bill, we are prepared to peacefully remain here to bring attention to the issue and the Legislature’s failure to protect those in our community from harm.”

A second demonstration of at least 65 people was held February 13; no arrests were made, inasmuch as the protestors silently surrounded the Statehouse rotunda after being refused entry into the Senate and House galleries (where political demonstrations are not allowed, including the wearing of t-shirts with political slogans).[16]

A third demonstration of roughly 200 people was held at the Statehouse on February 17, filling multiple rotunda floors. No arrests were made as it was a mass non-arrest demonstration; the activists mingled freely with representatives from Idaho's livestock industry and schoolchildren promoting school choice.[17]

At a fourth protest, held on February 20, thirty-two protesters were arrested,[18] and at a fourth, held on February 27, forty-six.[19] By the end of February 2014, 122 arrests had been made (with some protestors having been arrested than once, and all of whom are being represented pro bono),[20] and negotiations between LGBT-rights advocates and religiously conservative legislators had tentatively begun.[21]

On March 4, 23 arrests at a fifth protest were made when demonstrators blocked public and private entrances to Gov. "Butch" Otter's office.[22] Former State Senator Nicole LeFavour (arrested four times in five weeks[23]) remarked the protesters were particularly concerned about the lack of discrimination statutes on gay teens in the state, given that a Pocatello, Idaho homosexual teenager had recently committed suicide after being bullied at school, whereas Gov. Otter expressed concern, given the continuing nature of the protests, that the targeted closing of the legislative session (which takes $30,000 a day to operate) for March 21 may be delayed,[24] and the Idaho State Police, which patrols the Statehouse but which perforce has had to pull several highway patrol officers from their usual duties in surrounding counties in order to perform the mass arrests, estimates that at a cost of $3,000 to $6,600 per arrest that the protests have cost taxpayers $19,600 as of March 6.[25]

On March 12, Nicole LeFavour and several others were arrested at the Idaho Statehouse (at least her sixth arrest).[26]

Republican former governor Phil Batt, who has a gay grandson and who authored the state's 1969 Human Rights act,[27] supports Add The Words;[28] Idaho is one of 28 states which does not specifically protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment and housing.[29]

Clergy and laity associated with the Interfaith Equality Coalition, amongst other Idaho citizenry,[30] have been providing moral support to the on-going protests during the legislative session by holding silent vigils at 12:04 p.m. daily;[31] other peaceful demonstrations also continued.[32][33][34] Following the adjournment sine die, the activists made plans to take their training sessions to the local, civic level in various cities as requested, beginning with Moscow and McCall but also including Twin Falls, Pocatello, and Idaho Falls, in light of the Idaho legislature's non-engagement with Republican and Mormon families who deal with LGBT issues daily.[35] Furthermore, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has noted that "when a government allows the civil rights of any group to be compromised, the rights of all groups are compromised," and has sent its expert on voter turn-out to the state,[36] and MDG Films is producing a documentary on the campaign which had a test screening at the historic Egyptian Theatre on June 15, 2014.[37]

In late July 2014 at a packed court hearing more than twenty activists (those who had been arrested at least twice) were sentenced to community service and dealt court fines, having agreed to plea deals; most received ten hours of community service and a $10 fine for each charge against them, and some had some charges dropped, whereas Nicole LeFavour, who as one of the group's leaders was arrested seven times, received 70 hours of community service and $70 in fines.[38]

2010-2013[edit]

2014[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Add the Words, Idaho". Add the Words, Idaho. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Idaho Democrats vow to continue ‘Add the Words’ fight for LGBT protections – LGBTQ Nation". Lgbtqnation.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  3. ^ "Idaho GOP refuses to ‘add the words’ to prohibit LGBT discrimination – LGBTQ Nation". Lgbtqnation.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  4. ^ esessis (2014-02-05). "Add the Words, Idaho". Dailykos.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  5. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/us/idaho-senator-to-push-gay-rights-bill-from-outside.html
  6. ^ Statesman staff and wire reports (2014-02-03). "State police cite 44 for trespassing after 'Add the Words' protest blocks Senate | Idaho Legislature". Idahostatesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  7. ^ Miller, Ashley. "The Wrong Side of History | Growing number of Idahoans at odds with Legislature over Add the Words | Culture". Boise Weekly. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  8. ^ "Arrests, Protests Give Former Idahoan Reason to Hope - The Bilerico Project". The Bilerico Project. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "43 Gay Rights Activists Arrested In Idaho - On Top Magazine | Gay news & entertainment". Ontopmag.com. 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  10. ^ Moeller, Katy. "2 months’ planning, 3 hours, all for 4 words | Idaho Legislature". Idahostatesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  11. ^ "State police arrest Add the Words activists for blocking Senate | Local & Regional | Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Idaho News, Weather, Sports and Breaking News". KBOI 2. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ AP 2:45 p.m. EST February 3, 2014 (2014-02-03). "Dozens of gay rights activists arrested in Idaho". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  14. ^ Popkey, Dan (2014-02-04). "Popkey: Add the Words protest marred by focus on former senator | Idaho Legislature". Idahostatesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  15. ^ Press, Associated (2014-02-03). "Police arrest 'Add the Words' protesters who blocked Senate chambers | KTVB.COM Boise". Ktvb.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  16. ^ [2][dead link]
  17. ^ Hundreds of gay rights activists back at Idaho Statehouse | KTVB.COM Boise
  18. ^ Kyle, Zach. "Idaho: Gay friendly? Anti-gay? Neutral? | Technology". Idahostatesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  19. ^ "‘Add the Words’ protests aren’t effective, Rep. Elaine Smith says - ‘Add the Words’ protests aren’t effective, Rep. Elaine Smith says: Local". Idahostatejournal.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  20. ^ "Idaho's arrested 'Add the Words' activists added lawyers". The Gayly. 2014-02-05. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  21. ^ Popkey, Dan. "Add the Words talks in infancy | Idaho Legislature". Idahostatesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  22. ^ Popkey, Dan. "Otter: Add the Words protesters may be hurting their own cause, should focus on lawmakers | Idaho Legislature". Idahostatesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  23. ^ Former Idaho senator arrested four times in past five weeks | KTVB.COM Boise
  24. ^ Posted by Betsy (2013-03-15). "'Add the 4 Words' protesters block all entrances to Idaho governor's office - Eye On Boise - Spokesman.com - March 4, 2014". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  25. ^ Police, protesters talk about the cost of 'Add the Words' protests | KTVB.COM Boise
  26. ^ "LeFavour raises hopes of Add the Words hearing, Bedke says she misunderstood » Idaho Statesman Blogs". Idaho Statesman Blogs. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  27. ^ "Gov. Batt says Idaho’s ‘disdain’ of gays hurts his family, urges ‘Add the Words’ - IDAHO LGBT NEWS". IDAHO LGBT NEWS. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  28. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  29. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  30. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  31. ^ Interfaith group prays to support gay rights at Idaho Statehouse | KTVB.COM Boise
  32. ^ "'Add the Words' protesters return, bring music, stand silently... - Eye On Boise - Spokesman Mobile - March 13, 2014". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  33. ^ "Add the Words protesters 'wrap' Idaho Capitol - Local & Regional - Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Idaho News, Weather, Sports and Breaking News - KBOI 2". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  34. ^ "Former Idaho senator asked to leave Statehouse closet - Spokesman.com - March 18, 2014". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  35. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  36. ^ "Top NAACP official to speak Saturday about Idaho 'Add the Words' campaign » Idaho Statesman Blogs". Idaho Statesman Blogs. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  37. ^ "Add The Words Idaho - Documentary Film". Add The Words Idaho - Documentary Film. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  38. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 

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