Opinion: Tell Idaho Lawmakers it’s past time to “Add the Words!”

addwords

I’ll never forget the first time I took part in any sort of lobbying at the capital building.  It was during the 2006 legislative session. A handful of Twin Falls residents drove up to Boise to beg lawmakers not to pass a bill that effectively would become a constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriages.

There were ten or so of us gathered on the steps capital steps amidst a sea of red balloons, each representing a different Idaho county. Throughout the day lawmakers came and went, some smiled, some scowled but most simply ignored us.

One  lawmaker in particular though drove a message home that I’ve never, ever forgotten. He came over to our balloons and asked me what they were for. I explained it to him and then asked if we could count on his support. His eyes narrowed and his voice, which had  previously carried an amical tone,  lowered to a whispering growl, “You listen to me, you might as well pack it up and go away.  As long as my colleagues and I are members of this body you people will never have any rights, you hear me? Ever!”

He walked away leaving me to wonder just what it was about “us people” that had made him so upset and so full of anger. Seven years later, his words not only still haunt me, but his emotional response still carries the obviously  intended sting. Every time I walk through the doors of that majestic marble building, I’m reminded that there are those inside those chambers that consider me something less than a full citizen.

Last year, as I set there watching the members of the Senate State Affairs Committee once again deny our plea to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act, that lawmaker’s words rang out in my head.

“It’ll happen, one of these days,” I’m told by sympathetic supporters. “It’s just not the right year, yet.” Some say it’ll take more education, more talking, more explaining.  I tend to believe that after seven years of begging for our elected officials to look us in the eyes and to hear our stories, most, if not all by now, know full well what we are asking for. The right to full citizenship, without having to worry about whether or not we are going to lose our jobs, or be kicked out of our homes or kicked out of a cab because of our sexual orientation or gender identities is not a hard concept to grasp.

Later this morning a group of lawmakers will gather to hear from a small panel of experts and citizens on why they should “Add the Words.” The group will be made up of members from both  the House and Senate State Affairs committees. The hope from organizers is that it will give the committee members a chance to hear, in some of our own words, why the addition is so vitally important to our community.

While I’m glad we are getting the chance, I have another hope as well. It is my hope that as those committee members look out into the faces of those in the audience and out into the cameras that will be streaming the meeting across our great state, their hearts and minds will be filled with the realization that “we people” are just people, just like they are, with the same hopes and dreams, ambitions and fears, with the same love for state and country as any member of those hallowed halls.

Will our presence at the event change their minds? It could.

Will it  help to send the message that we believe that it’s long past time to recognize us as citizens? Maybe.

Will it it show them that we aren’t going away? Definitely.

Add the Words, Idaho organizers are encouraging community members to attend Wednesday morning’s meeting in order to silently show their support for the bill.  The”informal  presentation” is scheduled for this  morning at 8:00 am in the Lincoln Auditorium on the Capitol’s garden level. Those around the state can watch it live on IPTV by CLICKING HERE.

You can also contact Senate committee members and let them know that you support A FULL HEARING on the measure:

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400

Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300

Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340

Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100

Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

Sen. Siddoway (Contact him by Clicking HERE.)

Idaho’s “Add The Words” Bill May Get A Second Chance In House

Add the Words, Idaho organizers plan to submit a new version of a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to  Idaho’s human rights act to the House State Affairs committee this week.

The move comes almost three weeks after a GOP majority on the Senate State Affairs committee voted not to print its version of the bill.

The “Add the Words” bill would make it illegal in Idaho to discriminate against someone solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of employment, housing or in other public amenities.

According to a Facebook announcement, organizers are asking supporters to,”send a hand written note to the six most powerful Republican leaders in the statehouse asking them to “please be a hero to thousands that live in fear”, to vote in favor of allowing a public hearing and to vote in favor of “add the words sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act”! Writing these lawmakers with a positive message will let them know that their communities support this legislation and it is important to make it a priority this year.”

Mistie Tolman, statewide Add the Words spokeswoman, told the Times-News this week that events such as silent protests will continue to be held two or three times a week in Boise until a bill is printed or the legislative session ends — whichever comes first.

Here is a list of the six Idaho GOP leaders organizers are asking folks to write. Please be respectful, it’s important to thank them for taking the time to consider the bill. Remember time is of the essence:

Senator Brent Hill, Senate President Pro Tempore, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0081

Senator Bart M. Davis, Senate Republican Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0081

Senator Chuck Winder, Assistant Republican Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0081

Representative Lawerence Denney, Speaker of the House, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

Representative Mike Moyle, Republican Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

Representative Scott Bedke, Assistant Majority Leader, Idaho State Legislature, State Capitol Building, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

Watch: “Only Stronger” by Add the Words, Idaho

It’s been a long week for volunteers pushing for legislation that would add the words,”sexual orientation and gender identity” to Idaho’s human rights act.

A week ago, the Republican majority of the Senate State Affairs committee voted 7:2 not to give the bill a full hearing. Since then, backers have continued their efforts in hopes of lawmakers changing their minds.

The group has also been active in trying to educate the followers of three different GOP Presidential candidates in Idaho, as well as Senate Majority Caucus Chair John McGee, for comments made following last Friday’s vote.

On Thursday, Senator  Nicole LeFavour  attempted to amend a bill that tightens penalties for smuggling cigarettes or cell phones into prison, “by adding protections  for LGBT individuals from workforce or housing discrimination.”

Lt. Gov. Brad Little refused to allow the measure to be introduced as an attachment to another bill.

On Friday, the group released a new video urging folks to email and or call their lawmakers and ask them to reconsider the bill….

 

 

KEEP UP the pressure! Call or email the  Republican members of the Senate State Affairs Committee and ask them to reconsider their votes on the Add the Words bill:

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400
Sen. McGee: JMcgee@senate.idaho.gov (208) 455-3950
Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov
Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300
Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340
Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100
Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

Rejected Again! Idaho State Senator John McGee Refuses Flowers From a Lady!

It appears that not even flowers can convince State Senator John McGee to have a change of heart when it comes to amending Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

A pair of Add the Words, Idaho volunteers attempted to hand deliver a bouquet of rainbow-colored roses to the Senate Majority Caucus Chair on Wednesday afternoon.  Wearing a stunning black velvet dress complete with black veil, LipsInc sensation “Martini” and organizer Lisa Perry chased the Senator down a Capital Building hallway as he was leaving for lunch.

Perry called out the Senator’s name and told him they had flowers for him.

McGee declined to take the bouquet.

Perry says she tried to convince the Senator to at least take the attached card that read,”You could have been a hero to thousands,” but he declined that as well.

“Martini” says she was disappointed, but not surprised. “He wants to ignore us, have us go away, but we aren’t going.”

Perry says she’s saddened that McGee is too busy to hear the group’s concerns, but she says, “we aren’t going to give up.”

Wednesday marks the third day Add the Words, Idaho volunteers have picketed McGee. Many were angered by his words to reporters last Friday that he didn’t believe the legislation was necessary, but that “continued education” was the answer to ending discrimination against Idaho’s LGBT community.

The group is planning on meeting Thursday afternoon at 1:15 pm outside of the Senate Transportation Committee to  resume their silent protest. They will also be meeting on Friday at 7:45 am outside the Senate State Affairs committee room.

If you can’t make it to Boise, KEEP UP the pressure! Call or email the  Republican members of the Senate State Affairs Committee and ask them to reconsider their votes on the Add the Words bill:

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400

Sen. McGee: JMcgee@senate.idaho.gov (208) 455-3950

Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300

Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340

Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100

Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

More Insult to the Injury! Senator McGee to Idaho’s LGBT Community: “We’re Moving On”

Add the Words, Idaho volunteers met at Idaho’s Capital building again on Monday to ask Senate Majority Caucus Chair John McGee to reconsider his stance on amending Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

Supporters held up signs while,  just feet away, state Idaho’s Republican leaders helped launch Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador’s re-election bid. The crowd gathered on the statehouse steps included Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter, House Speaker Lawerence Denney, Labrador and of course Senator John McGee.

Just feet away from Raul Labrador's Re-Election kick off

Following the action, McGee showed more of the same insensitive attitude toward Idaho’s LGBT community that he has been displaying since last Friday’s print hearing, “I appreciate their concern, and their disappointment,” McGee told KBOI-TV in Boise, “but we’ve got a job to do here and we’re moving on.”

Add the Words, Idaho organizer Lisa Perry tells the Idaho Agenda that for those who could be fired from their jobs for simply being who they are there is no “moving on”. “Discrimination is something that happens everyday in Idaho. Once again, Senator McGee has shown a lack of understanding of just how vital the Add the Words Bill is to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The issue won’t go away just because McGee and other committee  members have chosen to ignore it.”

On Friday, McGee told the Spokesman-Review he acknowledged that discrimination does occur against gays and lesbians in Idaho, but said he believed that “continued education” was the answer.

Perry says Add the Words, Idaho volunteers are planning to do just that. “We plan to continue with our education efforts like today’s in hopes that Senator McGee will reconsider adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act. Senator McGee is right, he does have a job to do. We ask him to pass this bill and let every Idahoan know that they are valued!”

Actions similar to today’s are planned at the Idaho Statehouse throughout the rest of the week.

Click HERE for more information on this week’s actions.

If you can’t make it to Boise, KEEP UP the pressure! Call or email the  Republican members of the Senate State Affairs Committee and ask them to reconsider their votes on the Add the Words bill:

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400
Sen. McGee: JMcgee@senate.idaho.gov (208) 455-3950
Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov
Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300
Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340
Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100
Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

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