Eye On Boise

'Add the 4 Words' protesters block all entrances to Idaho governor's office

Gay rights protesters blockade all entrances to the Idaho governor's office on Tuesday morning (Betsy Russell)
Gay rights protesters blockade all entrances to the Idaho governor's office on Tuesday morning (Betsy Russell)

"Add the 4 Words" protesters are blocking every entrance to the governor's office this morning, standing silently with their hands over their mouths. The protesters, who arrived about 6:45 a.m., have posted signs saying anyone inside the offices who wants to leave need only knock and they'll let them through. Staffers for the governor gathered with Senate and security officials in offices across the hall briefly this morning. About 21 protesters are blocking the four entrances to the governor's office area, including the main door. Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said they're willing to be arrested. "We're prefer they just start working on the bill," she said, saying the protesters will "remain in place until the governor is willing to start ending his silence on this issue."

The protesters want the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" added to the Idaho Human Rights Act, which now bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on race, religion and other factors, but not those. The change has been proposed every year for the last eight, but has never gotten a full committee hearing in the Legislature.

LeFavour said the protesters are particularly concerned about the impact of the lack of discrimination protections on gay teens in the state, and the message sent by the lack of action on the legislation. "You look at Pocatello and it scares me," she said; a gay Pocatello teen committed suicide in February after being bullied at school. That followed another suicide in 2011. "We can't let them despair like that," said LeFavour, Idaho's first openly gay state lawmaker. "We have to give them a promise that things will get better, now."

 




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Betsy Z. Russell





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