BOISE — Gay rights activists, with former Sen. Nicole LeFavour at the forefront, blocked three entrances to the Idaho Senate during a Monday morning protest.
Boise Democrat LeFavour, who later decried the Idaho Legislature’s record on legal rights protection for gay and transgender people, was the last of more than 40 protesters to be arrested in the Senate.
“It was actually very disconcerting not to be arrested with the others,” said LeFavour, in an interview after receiving what she said was a misdemeanor trespassing citation.
Wearing black-and-white shirts bearing a slogan, LeFavour and the other protesters were promoting the unsuccessful-to-date “Add the Words,” campaign — an attempt to persuade state lawmakers to legally guard employment and housing rights for Idaho’s gay and transgender population by amending the Idaho Human Rights Act.
LeFavour said the responses of her former Senate colleagues to the protest were “across-the-board,” and that the protest succeeded in raising the public awareness of the Legislature’s record.
“I think now a lot more people are aware that this body, this Legislature, is failing terribly in protecting a lot of good people who live in this state,” said LeFavour, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress in 2012 as she closed out four terms in the Legislature. “Lots of people’s sons and daughters are not being protected by these folks. And they should be.”
LeFavour added: “I consider myself a gay person, so gay people, or transgender people, have just simply not been protected by the folks in this Legislature.”
Two Southeastern Idaho lawmakers had differing perspectives on Monday morning’s protest event.
According to Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, protesters before the scheduled 11 a.m. Monday start of the Senate prevented state senators from getting to their desks on the Senate floor.
“Well, I observed their right to protest and come and participate in the legislative process here in the Capitol,” Bair said. “And, it’s unfortunate that it happened the way it did.”
Bair added: “I was uncomfortable with them coming inside the Senate chambers and locking senators out.”
Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, said the protesters simply expressed themselves via their own modus operandi.
“That’s their way of making their voices heard,” Lacey said. “Everybody has their own way. And, so, if they’re happy with it, I’m happy for them.”