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Eye On Boise

Mon., July 21, 2014, 3:22 p.m.

Protesters tell their stories, receive fines, community service

Among the many people coming before the court for sentencing this afternoon for the “Add the 4 Words” protests at the state Capitol this year:

Judy Cross, who was arrested five times in Add the Words protests, said her first arrest was in 1969, two days after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, after she marched hand in hand with other protesters. “Our crime was holding hands with a black person,” she said. Cross said her husband is a gay Episcopal priest who lost his position because he was gay. “It affected our whole family,” she said. “We lost half our income, we lost our house, our four kids were bullied and harassed at school.” She said, “This has got to change, this has absolutely got to change.” Cross received a $50 fine, 50 hours of community service and court costs.

Keith Blazor, 20, told the court he stood silent after he and his roommate were attacked outside their apartment complex. “She ended up having to have facial reconstructive surgery,” he said. “We were put into a position where we had to either defend ourselves publicly and risk losing our jobs and possibly our apartment, and I refused to do any of the interviews. … She was brave and she did that.” He said members of the transgender and gay community in Idaho sometimes “decide to stay silent and that shouldn’t be the case,” and that’s what brought him here today. He received 20 hours community service and court costs.

Emily Jackson Edney said, “I take full responsibility for the actions that brought me before this court today.” Edney told the court, “I am the T in LGBTQ,” as a transgender person. “But I am so much more than that. I am a son and a daughter of this magnificent city and wonderful state. I am a parent, a grandparent, and soon to be a great-grandparent.” She said, “I have experienced discrimination in this state because of my gender identity and expression. The most egregious was by medical practitioners. … I have no avenue of recourse and neither do my brothers and sisters.” Gay and transgender people should not be “fair game for discrimination and bigotry,” she said. She was sentenced to 30 hours community service and court costs for trespassing in the protests.

Caleb Hansen, the only person today to choose to represent himself rather than have an attorney represent him, said he’s a small business owner in Meridian. “I had no idea that it was legal to discriminate in Idaho based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said. “Most people I’ve talked to since I’ve become involved in the issue had the same reaction as I did, first disbelief, is that real? Second, a little bit of embarrassment. … This is 2014.” He said most people “remain silent,” assuming the government will do the right thing. “Our state Legislature has known about it for nine years now and refused to even hear it,” he said. “So for that reason I went to the state Capitol.” Hansen received 20 hours of community service, with credit for eight hours served in jail based on an earlier agreement, along with court costs.

Ty Carson, who received a $60 fine and 60 hours of community service for two charges, told the court, “No Idahoan, not one of us, should have to live in fear.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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