Add The Words, Idaho

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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;[2] this group grew out of several others which had been advocating the same. After eight years, however, such a proposed bill[3] had never even been allowed to be filed by the Republican-majority legislature for a hearing,[3] 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.[4][5][6] (The PAC and the direct action group are commonly conflated as Add The Words. This article covers the series of peaceful direct actions/protests, the associated peaceful demonstrations, and the resultant printing and hearing of HB 002, which ultimately died in committee.)

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[7] two months in the planning.[8][9][10][11] Three of those arrested were juveniles, and LeFavour herself was, unexpectedly,[12] 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.[13]

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).[14]

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.[15]

At a fourth protest, held on February 20, thirty-two protesters were arrested,[16] and at a fourth, held on February 27, forty-six.[17] 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),[18] and negotiations between LGBT-rights advocates and religiously conservative legislators had tentatively begun.[19]

On March 4, 23 arrests at a fifth protest were made when demonstrators blocked public and private entrances to Gov. "Butch" Otter's office.[20] Former State Senator Nicole LeFavour (arrested four times in five weeks[21]) 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,[22] 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.[23]

On March 12, Nicole LeFavour and several others were arrested at the Idaho Statehouse (at least her sixth arrest).[24]

Republican former governor Phil Batt, who has a gay grandson and who authored the state's 1969 Human Rights act,[25] supports Add The Words;[26] Idaho is one of 28 states which does not specifically protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment and housing.[27]

Clergy and laity associated with the Interfaith Equality Coalition, amongst other Idaho citizenry,[28] have been providing moral support to the ongoing protests during the legislative session by holding silent vigils at 12:04 p.m. daily;[29] other peaceful demonstrations also continued.[30][31][32] 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.[33] 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,[34] and MDG Films is producing a documentary on the campaign which had a test screening at the historic Egyptian Theatre on June 15, 2014.[35]

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.[36]

On January 15, 2015, the House Ways and Means committee voted 9-1 to send House Bill 2 (HB 002)to the House State Affairs committee for a hearing, finally printing the bill for consideration after nine years.[37][38] On the 17th a rally of more than a thousand people was held on the steps of the Statehouse.[39]

On January 29, 2015, after nearly 21 hours of testimony spread over three days from 190 people, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee ultimately voted 13-4 along party lines (Republican-Democrat) to keep the bill in committee, effectively killing it for the legislative session.[40][41] 134 people had spoken in favor of the bill, 54 were opposed, and two were neutral, and impromptu reprises of the "hands over mouth" silent demonstrations took place in the corridors of the statehouse after the committee's final vote, some of whom wept.[42] Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, remarked to supporters of the bill that "We have come a long way. I think this very hearing has brought us a long, long way... Do not despair. Your concerns are legitimate, very legitimate, and people in Idaho and in the Legislature have heard you and are hearing you." Furthermore, some members who had voted against the bill expressed possible support for a future compromise bill, and the Idaho Statesman had editorialized in support of the bill itself.[43] The Ada County Highway District commission had the night before added the words under its own aegis.[44] On January 18, 2019, Boise senator Maryanne Jordan proposed adding the words in a personal bill SB1015 (such bills do not require committee perusal). Furthermore, such legislation had not been introduced in the two legislative sessions prior, and most of her Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate were co-signers.[45]

Vote to hold in committee
Yea Constituency
Chairman Thomas F. Loertscher (R) Iona
Vice Chairman Gayle L. Batt (R) Wilder
Ken Andrus(R) Lava Hot Springs
Lynn M. Luker (R) Boise
Brent J. Crane (R) Nampa
Joe Palmer(R) Meridian
Kathleen Sims (R) Coeur d'Alene
Vito Barbieri (R) Dalton Gardens
James Holtzclaw (R) Meridian
Shannon McMillan (R) Silverton
Linden B. Bateman (R) Idaho Falls
Don Cheatham (R) Post Falls
Pete Nielsen (R) Mountain Home
Vote to hold in committee
Nay Constituency
Elaine Smith (D) Pocatello
Paulette Jordan (D) Plummer
John McCrostie (D) Garden City
Melissa Wintrow (D) Boise

On March 2, 2015, 22 activists were arrested.[46] The campaign continues to have the support of many small Idaho businesses.[47]

On January 16, 2016, 600 people rallied on the capitol steps in support of adding the words, a position on which they shall not, as a matter of human rights, compromise;[48] there was a small counter-demonstration.[49]




  1. ^ "Add the Words, Idaho". Add the Words, Idaho. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Legislature of the State of Idaho : 18-7301. FREEDOM FROM DISCRIMINATION CONSTITUTES A CIVIL RIGHT. The right to be free from discrimination because of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin is recognized as and declared to be a civil right" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  3. ^ a b "Idaho Democrats vow to continue 'Add the Words' fight for LGBT protections – LGBTQ Nation". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  4. ^ Statesman staff and wire reports (2014-02-03). "State police cite 44 for trespassing after 'Add the Words' protest blocks Senate | Idaho Legislature". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Arrests, Protests Give Former Idahoan Reason to Hope". The Bilerico Project. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  7. ^ "43 Gay Rights Activists Arrested In Idaho – On Top Magazine | Gay news & entertainment". 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  8. ^ Moeller, Katy. "2 months planning, 3 hours, all for 4 words | Idaho Legislature". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Dozens of gay rights activists arrested in Idaho". 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  12. ^ Popkey, Dan (2014-02-04). "Popkey: Add the Words protest marred by focus on former senator | Idaho Legislature". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  13. ^ "Police arrest 'Add the Words' protesters who blocked Senate chambers | KTVB.COM Boise". Associated Press. 2014-02-03. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ "Hundreds of gay rights activists back at Idaho Statehouse". 2014-02-17. Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  16. ^ Kyle, Zach. "Idaho: Gay friendly? Anti-gay? Neutral? | Technology". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  17. ^ "'Add the Words' protests aren't effective, Rep. Elaine Smith says – 'Add the Words' protests aren't effective, Rep. Elaine Smith says: Local". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  18. ^ "Idaho's arrested 'Add the Words' activists added lawyers". The Gayly. 2014-02-05. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  19. ^ Popkey, Dan. "Add the Words talks in infancy | Idaho Legislature". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  20. ^ Popkey, Dan. "Otter: Add the Words protesters may be hurting their own cause, should focus on lawmakers | Idaho Legislature". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  21. ^ [3]
  22. ^ Betsy (2013-03-15). "'Add the 4 Words' protesters block all entrances to Idaho governor's office – Eye On Boise – – March 4, 2014". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  23. ^ "Police, protesters talk about the cost of 'Add the Words' protests". 2014-03-07. Archived from the original on 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  24. ^ "LeFavour raises hopes of Add the Words hearing, Bedke says she misunderstood » Idaho Statesman Blogs". Idaho Statesman Blogs. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Gov. Batt says Idaho's 'disdain' of gays hurts his family, urges 'Add the Words'". IDAHO LGBT NEWS. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  26. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  27. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  28. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  29. ^ "Interfaith group prays to support gay rights at Idaho Statehouse". 2014-03-06. Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  30. ^ "'Add the Words' protesters return, bring music, stand silently... – Eye On Boise – Spokesman Mobile – March 13, 2014". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  31. ^ "Add the Words protesters 'wrap' Idaho Capitol – Local & Regional – Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Idaho News, Weather, Sports and Breaking News – KBOI 2". Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  32. ^ "Former Idaho senator asked to leave Statehouse closet". March 18, 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  33. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  34. ^ "Top NAACP official to speak Saturday about Idaho 'Add the Words' campaign » Idaho Statesman Blogs". Idaho Statesman Blogs. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  35. ^ "Add The Words Idaho – Documentary Film". Add The Words Idaho – Documentary Film. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  36. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  37. ^ Kruesi, Kimberlee (2015-01-14). "In reversal, Idaho lawmakers introduce "Add the Words" bill". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  38. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  39. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  40. ^ "Idaho House committee rejects Add the Words bill along party-line vote | Idaho Legislature". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  41. ^ Dentzer, Bill. "Add the Words supporters discouraged but pledge to press on | News". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  42. ^ Berry, Harrison (2015-01-29). "After Historic Three-Day Hearing, Idaho's Add the Words Bill Dies in Committee | citydesk". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  43. ^ [4][dead link]
  44. ^ Sewell, Cynthia (2015-01-30). "Ada County Highway District adds the words | Idaho Politics". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  45. ^ Russell, Betsy (2019-01-18). "Boise senator introduces 'Add the Words' anti-discrimination bill". Idaho Press. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  46. ^ "Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell news by Idaho Statesman". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  47. ^ Prentice, George. "Businesses Add the Words Where Idaho Lawmakers Won't | Idaho small businesses support Add the Words, even at the risk of losing customers | News". Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  48. ^
  49. ^

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