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Idaho

Activists occupy Idaho Senate entrances to protest lack of LGBT protections

Monday, February 3, 2014
Joe Jaszewski,  The Idaho Statesman (AP)Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) is blocked from entering the Senate chambers by Demonstrators at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday morning.

Joe Jaszewski, The Idaho Statesman (AP)
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) is blocked from entering the Senate chambers by Demonstrators at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday morning.

Updated: 7:30 p.m. MST

BOISE, Idaho — Police arrested dozens of gay rights activists Monday after a protest that blocked entrances to the Idaho Senate chambers for more than two hours.

Idaho State Police said they took 43 people into custody on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing after demonstrators stood shoulder to shoulder and prevented lawmakers from getting past.

Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, the Idaho Legislature’s first openly gay lawmaker and an organizer of the protest, was among those arrested. Ahead of the demonstration, she had said the group would block the entrances until lawmakers agreed to take up a bill adding anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people or until protesters were removed by authorities.

John Miller, APProtesters demanding Idaho lawmakers add discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to the state's Human Rights Act block the main entrance to the state Senate chamber on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 in the Idaho Capitol in Boise, Idaho.

John Miller, AP
Protesters demanding Idaho lawmakers add discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to the state’s Human Rights Act block the main entrance to the state Senate chamber on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 in the Idaho Capitol in Boise, Idaho.

Demonstrators are arrested by Idaho State Police officers after blocking the entrance to the Senate chambers at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Boise, Idaho.

Joe Jaszewski, The Idaho Statesman (AP)
Demonstrators are arrested by Idaho State Police officers after blocking the entrance to the Senate chambers at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Boise, Idaho.

Joe Jaszewski, The Idaho Statesman (AP)Former Idaho state Sen. Nicole LeFavour is arrested after blocking the entrance of the Senate chambers at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Boise, Idaho.

Joe Jaszewski, The Idaho Statesman (AP)
Former Idaho state Sen. Nicole LeFavour is arrested after blocking the entrance of the Senate chambers at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Boise, Idaho.

After she was released, LeFavour said she was treated respectfully by law enforcement.

“We have no issue with police,” she said. “Our issue is with a Legislature that won’t stand up and say ‘cruelty to gay, lesbian and transgender people is wrong.’”

The issue of gay rights has become prominent in Idaho.

In a pending federal case, four couples have sued to overturn Idaho’s 8-year-old ban on gay marriage.

A Republican lawmaker introduced a bill last month to forbid the state from revoking professional licenses of those who refuse service or employment on religious grounds, triggering opposition from gay rights’ supporters and civil liberties groups.

And last year, tax commissioners barred same-sex couples legally married in other states from filing joint Idaho income tax returns.

The arrests Monday began after Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill attempted to enter the chamber about 11 a.m. but was blocked. About a half hour earlier, organizers had sent notice to media outlets saying arrests were imminent.

“We respect your right to protest, but we also have the right to do the job people elected us to do,” he told protesters before police intervened, a dding it was “irresponsible” of them to block the hearing room.

“Those are the chambers, and they belong to all the people, not just this group,” he said.

The demonstrators wore black-and-white “Add the Words Idaho” T-shirts and covered their mouths with their hands, a symbolic gesture intended to call attention to a bill that would add four words – sexual orientation and gender identity -to Idaho law banning discrimination in employment, housing and business services.

Hill, R-Rexburg, and other Idaho Republicans have blocked passage of such a proposal for eight years, and they have declined to give a hearing to such a plan this year.

Protesters, who ranged from high school age to their 70s, said they wanted to make a point.

Meredith Butts, an 18-year-old Boise High School student, said she got involved after seeing her friends face discrimination for their sexual orientation.

“I want people who are my age and people who are younger – real ly, anyone – to not have to hide who they are to prevent harm to themselves,” she said, adding that the prospect of arrest hadn’t deterred her.

Ty Carson, 41, a Boise resident, was among those arrested. Carson complained of verbal harassment in bathrooms, locker rooms and restaurants.

“That sort of discrimination should not happen to any of Idaho’s citizens,” Carson said. “Until the Legislature says it’s wrong, the message they’re sending is that it’s OK.”

Carson and other protesters had been escorted to the front door by a state trooper and told they could re-enter, provided they didn’t cause a repeat disturbance.

They now face misdemeanor trespassing charges, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Amid growing tension over whether an “Add the Words” bill will get a hearing, Idaho’s Capitol has been the scene of several low-key protests. On Friday, for instance, a small group with guitars sang songs in the Capitol, urging law makers to take up the issue.

LeFavour predicted additional action if lawmakers don’t agree to hold a hearing, saying “I don’t think you could stop people from showing up in greater numbers to do something peacefully, but pointedly, again and again and again.”

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68 more reader comments:

  1. go kids, go!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 4:58pm
  2. where is the guy/girls legs on the left O.o

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:03pm
  3. everyone should just be celibate

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:04pm
  4. Wearing a skirt and the leg is in a walking case propped up on one of those scooter things.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:04pm
  5. Love this picture, looks like the one on the far left is holding herself up by the handle, no legs, just floating!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:05pm
  6. …That person is floating? >.>

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:08pm
  7. AWESOME !!!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:08pm
  8. It always makes me happy to see the extent of what people are willing to do for the rights of others

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:21pm
  9. supposedly police are arriving to remove the demonstrators (says a commenter on the Boise Weekly FB site on a picture of this)

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 5:42pm
  10. Absolutely awesome!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:01pm
  11. wow it took me WAY too long to see the skirt in the picture. it blends in with the wall.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:14pm
  12. Smh

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:40pm
  13. What the hell? Why doesn’t the woman at the left have any legs?

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:40pm
  14. thats what i said on the previous post.. she does but that skirt is like damm good camoflage lol

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:43pm
  15. she has legs if you look a little closer. =) I agree what the hell!!!!

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:44pm
  16. I did zoom in and see a very well camouflaged skirt.

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:44pm
  17. she has legs, just no body inbetween :o :o lol lol!!! (grey skirt ;) )

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:44pm
  18. oh I see the skirt now...

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:03pm
  19. I think there is a lot more to this than you woman you think who is miss a leg... they are there fighting for your rights!

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:06pm
  20. I saw her legs, and her upper body, but that skirt is a match to the wall.

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:17pm
  21. pro-tip? ask Voice of Russia to point this out. ^^

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:41pm
  22. Fuck, Eric, WHY ARE YOU SO GOD DAMNED *MEAN*?

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:41pm
  23. Stand strong my LGBTQ sisters and brothers

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:44pm
  24. shut down the senate

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:44pm
  25. These are friends of mine.. this is bullshit. I cant even begin to tell you about the amount of bigots that live here in Idaho. Being compared to the Freedom Riders and how stupid it was then and how stupid ir is now. Are you kidding me? Wake up Idaho enough is enough. These people are the voice for the LGBT community, if your going to arrest them for being open to change. Here I am, put me in jail cause we wont be silenced. You can put us in jail and try, but we are FAMILY!! WE WILL FIGHT YOU TO OUR LAST BREATHE!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:46pm
  26. Amen

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:47pm
  27. Well it is known as the home of the White Supremacist.

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:51pm
  28. Krystal Johnson, I'm with you on that one. I support gay marriage.

    Replied on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:56pm
  29. The revolution is on…

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6:48pm
  30. The woman on the left looks like a floating torso

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:01pm
  31. I am a native Idahoan. Moved to PDX….couldn’t take the Nazi mentality of the government there. If the statehouse caught fire…I wouldn’t pee on it to save the members….same goes for Mr. Oily, Raul Labrador and Reagan wannabee. Butch Otter.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:04pm
  32. Wheres the freedome to peaceful assembly ans speach?the opposite of russia, we take freedome of speach for granted.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:05pm
  33. Fight fight fight!!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:10pm
  34. I know the woman in the left and she is an awesome person!!! As for the legs if you look it looks like she is using a temporary knee scooter. It looks like she has a cast on her leg.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:15pm
  35. Holy optical illusion batman

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:16pm
  36. It is so important to stand up against inequality…civil disobedience is a powerful tool

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:26pm
  37. We need to start raising hell!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:32pm
  38. They should have thought of a better way to demonstrate

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:34pm
  39. Apparently the Potato State doesn’t like people standing up for themselves.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:39pm
  40. Why do they scare you?

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:40pm
  41. there are 43 gays in Idaho?

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:44pm
  42. Always liked Nicole. She’s awesome.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:45pm
  43. Power to the people

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:48pm
  44. Stay STRONG Idaho, We are not Russia…yet

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:09pm
  45. she has on tan shorts and black leggings and not only does she have legs, she obviously has a heart and courage, just like the rest of the people with her. Idaho, get real, all people should be free.. Too bad we don’t have someone like Lincoln who would do an emancipation proclamation for LGBT people and the country would honor it.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:11pm
  46. did any one else notice that the lady on the end because of the color of her skirt like her upper body is just floating there?

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:16pm
  47. Hey, note that the name Idahotmail breaks down into four words: I da Ho. Esp. true with the Mormon influence there.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:59pm
  48. Good for them! They knew what they were doing would likely get them arrested and they stood by their convictions! Each one of them can count that arrest as a badge of honor!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:01pm
  49. Where the hell are her legs?

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:08pm
  50. That’s why I hate pigs. They start shit with you and your rights.

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:54pm
  51. Long live civil disobedience!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 10:14pm
  52. So they arrest them? Ignorant bigots!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 10:37pm
  53. Wft!! Let go and fight!!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 11:03pm
  54. Right to peaceful protest? Pfftt, Not in my Murika!

    Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 11:43pm
  55. The horror

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:40am
  56. A new low for Idaho!…….:O

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:44am
  57. Since when is it illegal to stand in an entrance?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:45am
  58. Welcome to Idaho sad to admit I live here smh

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:47am
  59. Idaho State Police….WELCOME TO BEAUTIFUL Idaho ..SET <3 FREE!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:49am
  60. What do you expect when you interfere with the normal workings of a public building. Protest inside or outside as you wish but dont block others from getting to legislators that they too have a right to do businesses with. You just hurt the cause and look like jerks. Protests can be done without becoming a nuisance to the public at large.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:51am
  61. This wasn’t a nuisance to the public at large. Idaho has what… couple dozen senators? This seems an appropriate opportunity and place to protest.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 2:55am
  62. SHAME ON YOU IDAHO.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 3:06am
  63. oh oh, someone did the big poopoo

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 3:08am
  64. But people harassing women at a women’s health clinic can stand wherever they like.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 3:15am
  65. If any other minority group in the US was denied the right of civil marriage, I bet they’d do a lot worse than block an entrance.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 3:15am
  66. Bad, Bad, very Bad Idaho!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 3:53am
  67. It’s a public building owned by the PEOPLE, therefor it only follows that the PEOPLE can block it!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 4:31am
  68. GERMANY: WWII…WELCOME TO AMERICA…….WELCOME TO IDAHO, where Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is for the Heterosexual Male, only…WELCOME TO IDAHO…

    Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 3:31pm