Idaho Human Rights Day Speakers include Gay Community in Dr. King’s Dream


Hundreds braved single digit temperatures on Monday to celebrate human rights and to observe the dream of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Boise, on Monday.

After marching with signs and banners down Capital Boulevard, the crowd gathered at  the statehouse steps to grab a cup of cider and listen to fellow Idahoan’s describe what Dr. King’s dream meant to them.

One of those speakers was Ryan Greg, Boise State University’s first openly gay student body president. Greg told the crowd that,”Even in 2013, where a black man has just been sworn in for his second term as president, Dr. King’s dream still has not been fully realized.”

He cited the lack of a statewide ban on LGBT discrimination as proof of work still yet to be done. “I dream of a time when marriage as recognized by your God is not the same as marriage as recognized by your government,”Greg said, in relation to state lawmakers refusing to pass such legislation.

Meanwhile, inside the Capital Building, glaringly absent from this year’s observation was Idaho Governor Butch Otter. Instead, Lt. Governor Brad Little read the proclamation declaring the day “Idaho Human Rights Day.’ One critic noted that the proclamation made no mention of any of  Idaho’s minority groups or suggested any hope for the advancement of the dream that the document gave nod to.


Keynote speaker Reverend Percy “Happy” Watkins of Spokane, Washington delivered an updated version of Dr. King’s speech. In it he told the crowd gathered in the rotunda that his dream includes “the day that gays and lesbians will be able to walk down the streets” of America “hand in hand.”


According to his website,”Happy is widely known for his powerful rendition of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, which he delivers annually at Spokane’s King Day Parade, as well as at other venues throughout the region. He is also recognized as a dynamic motivational speaker and lecturer, and is invited regularly to deliver his inspirational messages to organizations, educational and religious institutions, and at community events across the state.”

The ceremony also included musical selections from Boise’s Common Ground Community Chorus.  The chorus has a long history in Boise’s LGBT community. Organized in March 2000, it was originally known as Boise Pride Chorale. In 2002 the Chorale was reorganized as the Idaho Voices of Diversity. In 2008 the choir was re-branded as Common Ground Community Chorus. (You can learn more about it HERE.)

Monday’s observance was sponsored by the Idaho Human Rights Commission, the Ada County Human Rights Task Force, the Idaho Human Rights Education Center and the Idaho Department of Labor.

Similar observances and marches were held in communities around the state.

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