Here's a news item from the Associated Press: Idaho State Police Thursday arrested at least six people for trespassing and another for misdemeanor battery after about three dozen gay rights protesters blocked multiple entrances to the Idaho Senate in a renewed effort to convince majority Republican lawmakers to consider an anti-discrimination bill. The demonstration comes after 44 protesters were arrested Feb. 3 in a similar action and charged with misdemeanor trespassing. Teresa Baker, of the Idaho State Police, confirmed the arrests Thursday, saying the battery charges stemmed from a complaint filed by Senate Sergeant at Arms Sarah Jane McDonald. McDonald was not injured; McDonald didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Senators entered the chamber Thursday and voted on bills, but at least some visitors were barred from leaving the front entrances on the Capitol's third and fourth floors. Some were ushered to a back exit by lawmakers. “I went down the elevator,” said Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, following the Senate session. “They told me the stairs were blocked.” The trespassing arrests, including of former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, a Boise Democrat who was Idaho's first openly gay lawmaker until retiring in 2012, occurred when demonstrators blocked a rear stairwell, briefly preventing some lawmakers and others from leaving.
LeFavour, who helped organize the demonstration, said activists seek to highlight what she called “the Senate's silence” on updating Idaho's Human Rights Act with workplace and housing protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. Following her arrest, LeFavour was ushered to the Capitol's main south exit but returned to help coordinate remaining protesters on the third and fourth floors. “I would imagine so,” LeFavour told The Associated Press, when asked if she anticipated additional demonstrators would be detained. “They are committed to stay until there is a hearing on a bill.”
Like the previous Feb. 3 protest, Thursday's demonstrators also wore black-and-white “Add the 4 Words Idaho” T-shirts and covered their mouths with their hands. It is a symbolic gesture intended to call attention their concerns they've been silenced in their bid to add four words _ sexual orientation and gender identity _ to Idaho law that currently bans discrimination based on race, gender or religion. They've sought unsuccessfully to update the Idaho Human Rights Act for eight years. Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said she's not surprised the Idaho Capitol has become the scene of serial protests. “All of this conversation has been percolating for quite a while,” said Stennett, who favors updating the Idaho Human Rights Act. “It's everybody's opportunity to promote their agenda. It's the people's house.” Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Hill, R-Rexburg, and other GOP lawmakers have declined to give the anti-discrimination bill a hearing.