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Silent Protests In Idaho Demand Lawmakers ‘Add The Four Words’

by Jean Ann Esselink on March 3, 2014

in Discrimination,Jean Ann Esselink,News

Post image for Silent Protests In Idaho Demand Lawmakers ‘Add The Four Words’

Now in the Idaho Capitol 25 demonstrators will stand in place until the idaho senate begins work of hearing and passing a bill to include gay & transgender people in Idaho’s human rights act. The stance the demonstrators use today and their position, hand over mouth outside the Senate Chamber is meant to represent how Idaho Senators have remained silent while gay and transgender people have lived in fear or have faced beatings; the despair and suicides of teens, children or their friends; loss of jobs, apartments, as well as denial of service and care by restaurants and businesses. It represents the Senate’s failure to even hold a public hearing on the add the words bill so that they would hear the stories and understand the lives of gay, transgender people and their families. By failing to say such cruelty and discrimination is wrong they let many believe it is acceptable in our state.

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While the eyes of the nation were fixed on Arizona last week, supporters of LGBT equality were staging silent protests in the Idaho state capitol.

For weeks now, equality advocates have line up shoulder to shoulder, blocking access to the senate chamber. Police regularly arrest the protesters who block the doors, but the group has sworn to continue the practice until the the senate takes up the non-discrimination ordinance. Republicans have so far refused to consider debating a change to the law.

The protesters want “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” added to the state’s non-discrimination ordinance, hence the slogan on their t-shirts: “Add the four words“.

The photo the protesters are holding is of Idaho teenager Ryan Zicha, who committed suicide three years ago as the result of the bullying he endured because he was gay. Nicole LeFavourSenate President Pro Tem Brent Hill agreed to meet with Ryan’s mother Julie last week, but he gave no indication that the amendment would be brought to the floor.

State Senator Nicole LeFavour, (right) Idaho’s first LGBT elected official,  has been arrested herself for joining the protests. Here are some of the photos Senator LeFavour posted to her Facebook page from the most recent protests, along with her comments:

 

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We need rides from the jail for people soon. They are being taken to Ada county where we will have to post bail for the last 25 of them. They were strong and beautiful and stood silent no matter who touched them or what was said to them. They were so focused on the reason they were there. Julie Zicha and young gay men like her son Ryan are why we were there. May no one face discrimination and ever again feel their life is so little valued that they despair.

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More than sixty five people, clergy, grandparents, parents and high school students leave the statehouse after state police and security turned them and their non-discrimination message away from the House and Senate galleries where law makers could have seen them & understood how many stories they’ve silenced. Instead of agreeing to finally, after eight years, hold a public hearing on the issue, senate ProTem Brent Hill locked the senate chambers, demonstrating yet again how gay and transgender people have been excluded from Idaho’s legislative and democratic process.

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Thirteen arrested just now. 10 more on 4th floor. State police taking them away and law makers still silent and unwilling to say cruelty to gay and transgender people is wrong.

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Ada county jail slowly working to pay bail for the last of today’s 50 beautiful idaho state Capitol demonstrators. Please, if you can, $65 pays one person’s bail. We are ready to go back. Law makers, this can easily end. It’s up to you. Just hear the add the words bill. So little to ask. Work toward its passage. Now that we have the votes in the Senate State Affairs Committee why would you wait? How many young gay and transgender people’s lives will fall into despair? You can give them hope that this state of theirs cares, sees them as worthy of love & life.

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Thank you Sandpoint & now Boise High students. I hear they saw you & you were silent peaceful respectful & focused on how, in just the course of this legislative session, Idaho lost another young gay person to despair.

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Alonzo Statham is one of 50 people who peacefully, silently, respectfully demonstrated & were arrested this week. This group included an 80 year old man, a 17 year old high school student Denae Carson, more than 7 transgender people, Rabbi Dan Fink, Mennonite Pastor Marc Schlegel, Reverend Debbi Graham & other faith leaders. We’ll continue until the Idaho legislature does the simplest thing: schedules a public hearing & begins the work of passing the bill to us reach that day when no gay or transgender person takes their own life in despair because being gay is harder than being straight; a day when none of us are beaten in alleyways outside gay bars or our apartments; when no one is fired, evicted, denied care or service by a business just because they’re gay or transgender.

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We faced the glass doors of the House and Senate committee rooms, many of which had legislators inside. Finally after weeks of hiding in back rooms and behind wooden doors, they had to look at us, see whose stories they refuse to hear. 

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Slowly Ada county is releasing our fabulous people to cheers and a room full of donated food and people offering rides. This photo is a thank you to those who sponsored the bail for somebody arrested in today’s group. About half have been released and paid for. THANK YOU for your part in working to make idaho a safer, more welcoming and just place for gay & transgender people. We love you all for your amazing support of all kinds.

And the protests continue…..

Photos Facebook

 

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