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Eye On Boise

State MLK ceremony features calls for justice

Hundreds gather in the Idaho Capitol rotunda for the state's official Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day commemoration on Monday (Betsy Russell)
Hundreds gather in the Idaho Capitol rotunda for the state's official Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day commemoration on Monday (Betsy Russell)

Hundreds of people filled the Capitol rotunda on three floors for today’s Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day commemoration. Lt. Gov. Brad Little, reading an official proclamation, declared, “The celebration of Dr. King's birthday is intended as a time for all Americans to reaffirm their commitment to the basic principles that underlie our Constitution - equal treatment and justice for all." He said, "The ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Idaho’s commitment to human rights are worthy of reflection and serve as a reminder that improving the quality of life for all members of society is everyone’s responsibility.”

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, the mistress of ceremonies, told the crowd, “As Dr. King said so eloquently, now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

Keynote speaker Rabbi Dan Fink said, “The pursuit of justice begins with truth. No one understood this better than Martin Luther King.” Fink said much of King’s dream remains unfulfilled, as racism, sexism, religious hatred and prejudice persist. But he said a key thing has changed since King’s time: The law. Civil rights laws enacted in the past 50 years mean “you live in a more just nation than those who came before you.”

Fink called for amending the Idaho Human Rights Act to extend the state’s anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. “Let them earn a living, secure housing, and be served at public businesses free of prejudice, just like everyone else,” he said to applause. The bill, proposed but not heard in the Idaho Legislature in each of the past nine legislative sessions, is up for a full hearing next week.



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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