Boise Church to Screen Human Rights Documentary

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On Saturday, Jan. 12th, Boise’s First Congregational United Church of Christ will offer a free screening of the hour-long Idaho Public Television documentary, “The Color of Conscience.”

The film looks at the development of the modern human rights movement in Idaho. It features the story of a small group of concerned citizens who fought against Aryan Nations, ultimately bankrupting the neo-Nazi supremacist group in North Idaho.

The program also examines some of the current human rights issues in Idaho, such as gay rights, immigrant rights and hate crimes.

According to The Idaho Statesman  filmmaker  and public television producer, Marcia Franklin, will be on hand for the screening.

“The free showing is provided as part of the Church’s celebration of human rights in the local community, in particular the recent passing of Boise’s anti-discrimination ordinance,” the paper reports.

Boise’s First Congregational United Church of Christ is located at 2201 Woodlawn Avenue in Boise.

Click HERE to watch the trailer and to learn more about the film.

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The McInerney Plea Deal: Hate By Any Other Name?

When the news came across the wires this afternoon that a plea deal had been reached in the 2008 murder of 15-year-old Larry King, I saw more then one version of the story use the word “closure”.

One has to wonder just what kind of closure the plea deal offers to King and a thousand other kids just like him who grapple with issues like sexual orientation and gender identity, when not even those in the adult world can agree on the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

According to the Ventura County Star, on Monday,” Brandon McInerney, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter with use of a firearm.”

“His victim, King, 15, had been wearing women’s high heeled boots and makeup to school in the weeks leading up to the shooting as he was coming out of the closet and telling friends he was gay. Teachers testified King was becoming increasingly antagonistic and the administration was doing little to control him. Others said he was merely expressing his sexuality and it was King who was being bullied.”

“King had just told another student that he was changing his name to Leticia when McInerney shot him twice in the head,” reports the Star.

Antagonistic is in the eye of the beholder. Do we call it antagonistic when a high school star quarterback displays his “masochism” in order to impress the girls? Do we call it antagonistic when a female cheerleader does all she can to win the eye of her latest prince charming? Of course not, we pat them on the back and send them on their way to the prom.

Larry King will never make it to his prom. Nor will he ever have the chance to be who Leticia King might have been.

During the first trial, prosecutors portrayed McInerney as a budding white supremacist who hated homosexuals and was enraged by King’s sexuality and aggressive flirtations. That trial ended in a hung jury, largely due to the defendants young age.

Jay Smith, former executive director of the now-closed Rainbow Alliance, an advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community tells the Star,”he thinks the LGBT community feels strongly that the shooting was a hate crime, an allegation dropped by prosecutors after the hung jury.”

Because of McInerney’s age most connected with the case feel the plea deal is a good compromise. Or maybe, perhaps it’s just the product of the world we still live in where teenage boys aren’t suppose to dress like girls, or have crushes on other boys and all the other taboos of growing up LGBTQIA, maybe in that world compromise is OK.

One wonders if Larry King would still be alive today if our society believed in true equality for all it’s citizens. Imagine if being LGBTQIA was seen as being no different then being brown eyed or blue eyed. One wonders if McInerney would have shot someone for having red hair over blond hair?

It could happen, but it’s highly unlikely.

The prosecutors in the McInerney case may have dropped the hate crime charge but those of us who have ever looked in the face of someone who has hated someone else just because they are different can tell you no matter what you legally call it, from “protecting marriage” to “giving the gays special rights” hate is still just that.

We only have to look at our adult world to see where the children are learning it.

Tuned In: May-Chang To Appear on Signorile Show

Independent journalist and human rights activist, Jody May-Chang maybe one of the hardest working reporters in Idaho these days.  After years of trying to warn the country about former Idaho Values Alliance head fascist Bryan Fischer, a recent report  authored by herself and fellow journalist Jill Kuraitis seems to be gaining some traction.

Their report, “The Propagandists,” which follows Fischer’s infamous rise from Idaho pastor to current position as American Family Association’s ” Director of Issues Analysis” was released earlier this month by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Since the report’s release,  May-Chang has been popping up all over the place from an articles published on several national LGBTQ websites to an appearance on News Radio 1310 KLIX in Twin Falls.

Next stop: “The Gist” with Michelangelo Signorile.  Signorile, who all but invented the concept of “outing” hypocritical political homophobes during the 80’s, is one of America’s biggest names when it comes to LGBTQIA activism.  A former columnist for the Advocate, he is also the author of several best selling books. You can hear his interview with May-Chang this Friday, October 21st, at  1:30 pm MST on Sirius/XM’s OUTQ Channel 108. (If you don’t have a satellite you can still listen online by signing up for a free trial here.  There’s also “an app for that”.  Check your mobile device’s app store)


Boise Loves: Discussion On Recent Hate Crimes Focuses on Positive Action

About 30 people looking to do something about hate crime in Idaho gathered at the a.l.p.h.a. (Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS) office in Boise on Sunday afternoon to search for solutions.

One of the most frustrating issues for Boise law enforcement has been the fact that though there is plenty of anecdotalevidence that hate crimes are on the rise, so far this year no hate crimes related to sexual orientation have been officially reported.

Victims in attendance were also able to share some of their  own frustrations with Boise Police Department LGBTQ Liaison officer Janet Folwler.

Duane Quintana, a.l.p.h.a.’s Executive Director, says that Fowler had not realized the connection between the lack of protection in Idaho’s Human Right’s act for the LGBTQIA community and the lack of reporting a hate crime.

“I think she was able to see why a person might not want to file a police report in fear of outing themselves.” Says Quintana.

Reports to law enforcement are kept confidential but community organizers say the concern underscores the need for adding the words, “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the Act.

The group also discussed the need for a campaign to get the word out to Idaho’s LGBTQIA community that it’s important to report the crimes when they occur.

Also discussed during the meeting was the new Boise Loves facebook page, which not only focuses on supporting the LGBTQ community in the area of hate crimes but in other areas as well.

“We want it to be a page where people can share their positive action ideas as well as get inspired by others.” Says Quintina.

Quintana says he and others will be scheduling a meeting with the U.S. Attorney’s office and others to talk about the hate crime problem. He is also hoping for a followup meeting with the Mayor’s office, the first of which took place a few weeks ago.

“It’s really about educating everybody involved”, Quintana says. “From getting the LGBTQIA community to report the crimes to getting law renouncement to act on the reports, to making sure there are protections in place to create a safe enviorment for everybody.

Sunday’s meeting featured Donna Harwood from Lion’s Pride Cubs, Cody Hafer from Add the Words, Idaho!, the ACLU of Idaho and others.

The event was presented as part of Exposure a.l.p.h.a. Interchange‘s “Social Justice Sunday” series.

You can report a hate crime in Boise by contacting Janet Lawler. Her number is 208 570 6224.

Outside of Boise you are encouraged to contact your local law enforcement office. You can also contact the Idaho State Police Department as well as the regional office of the FBI with any questions or concerns you might have regarding filing a hate crime report:

FBI Salt Lake City
Suite 1200, 257 Towers Bldg.
257 East, 200 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111-2048
saltlakecity.fbi.gov
(801) 579-1400

Senator LeFavour Talks Hate Crimes On Conservitive Radio Show

Idaho State Senator Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise) made an appearance on 670 KBOI’s Nate Shelman Show on Thursday to talk about the recent rash of hate crimes in Boise.  Shelman, a conservative libertarian type of host, appeared not to grasp LeFavour’s various explanations of the difference between a hate crime and an assault or battery charge.

“If I slap you, doesn’t that matter more then if I slapped you because you are gay?”, Shelman asked at the beginning of the interview.

LeFavour, who is openly gay herself, went on to explain the difference no less then 5 times during the broadcast. “A hate crime,” LeFavour explained, “(is when) a person commits the crime with the intention of hurting a person who’s gay simply because they are gay. It is a very clear message that they are sending not only to the person they are beating, but to the entire community of people who belong to that group.”

Calls during the broadcast ranged from an absurd and false claim that pedophiles were included in a federal hate crimes act passed last year to one gentleman who wondered what the difference between crimes targeting rich people and those against gay people were.

The hate crime topic received a lot of airplay on the Boise radio station throughout the day following the publication of  a story in the Idaho Statesman. The article pointed out that so far this year noone in Boise has officially reported a hate crime due to their sexual orientation.

LeFavour responded during the Shelman interview by saying that she herself has seen several people, with her own eyes, many with bruised up faces, who told her that they and their friends were too afraid to even sleep at night let alone call the police.

“That’s what a hate crime does. It makes a whole community live in fear. They are crimes that go beyond the individual act,” LeFavour explained.

Shelman seemed to insinuate, despite later denying otherwise, that the victim was responsible for the reporting and arrest of his or her attacker. In one specific case, following an attack on a 22-year old Brandon Jesser and a female friend, Jesser told the Idaho Statesman, “I didn’t want my name out there. (My friend) is also a business owner. We both were just worried about if we reveal ourselves as gay — if it was public — it would be not appreciated.”

LeFavour told Shelman that part of the problem is that some within the gay community fear that if they do file a report regarding a hate crime, they will be outed.  “We as a society make it not okay to be gay,” she said. “That’s the problem: people don’t feel safe being gay in Idaho. We reinforce that fact by not including gay people in laws that make sure you aren’t fired based on your age, race or religion (amongst others). We don’t include gay people (in those laws) and so it makes people think that it’s okay to do horrible things to gay people.”
The Boise police department and others  are working to educate the community on the importance of reporting hate crimes.
You can hear the complete interview with Senator LeFavour by clicking HERE!
(Editor’s note:  A BIG hats off to Senator Lefavour for doing the interview. It’s easy to preach to the choir, but it’s harder to reach out to an audience that on the surface seems to disagree with everything you say, do and believe.  Someone told me once that it’s the radicals who call in to talk shows, it’s the moderates who sit and listen. While the majority of talk radio listeners in Idaho do tend to be more conservative, they are almost never as conservative as the host or the callers seem to be. Thanks to Senator LeFavour, it’s that audience that got to hear the truth yesterday regarding Boise’s hate crime situation.-JT)
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