On Monday, February 3, Police arrested forty-three LGBT activists after a two-hour protest that blocked Idaho Senate Chamber entrances. According to the activists, the demonstration was meant to inspire lawmakers to include gay and transgender people in the Idaho Human Rights Act.
According to police, activists stood shoulder to shoulder in a line that blocked legislators from getting through. Before she was arrested, former Senator Nicole LeFavour, who is openly lesbian and one of the organizers of the demonstration, allegedly told officers that if lawmakers “get a bill through committee, we would let them do their work.”
Participants wore matching shirts bearing the words “Add the Words Idaho,” and they held their hands over their mouths in order to demonstrate their oppression and to emphasize the need for LGBT workplace and housing protections.
The first of the arrests began after Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill was unable to enter his office.
“We respect your right to protest, but we also have the right to do the job people elected us to do,” Hill told the protestors before the police intervened. “Those are the chambers, and they belong to all the people, not just this group.” He added that the protesters’ actions were “irresponsible.”
Ty Carson, a 41-year-old Boise resident, and several other protestors received misdemeanor citations for trespassing as a result of the demonstration.
“I’m a parent of three beautiful girls,” said Carson. “I have been verbally attacked in bathrooms, locker rooms, and in local restaurants. That sort of discrimination should not happen to any of Idaho’s citizens. Until the Legislature says it’s wrong, the message they’re sending is that it’s okay.”
State police troopers escorted the protesters away from the Chamber doors. Police told them they could return if they did not cause further disturbance.
Idaho Republicans like Hill have actively blocked LGBT inclusive proposals for the past eight years. The last formal hearing to add gay and transgender protections to state laws was in 2012.