This Saturday, January 28, eleven towns across Idaho will participate in a collective Day of Action to advocate for an end to sexual orientation and gender discrimination in our state. Participants seek to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act, the state’s non-discrimination law. Without the addition of this language, it remains legal to fire someone or evict them from their home in Idaho solely based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Day of Action events will take place in Boise, Caldwell, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Moscow, Nampa, Plummer, Pocatello, Twin Falls, and Weiser. Activities at the various events will include sending sticky notes to legislators as part of the statewide Add the Words campaign, daylight and candlelight vigils, rallies with speakers and music, and informative meetings highlighting statewide support to include protection for gay and transgender people in Idaho’s Human Rights Act.
According to the press release for the Coeur d’Alene Day of Action, “efforts to add the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to Idaho’s anti-discrimination laws have been underway for the past six years. To date, legislators have yet to permit the bill a public hearing.”
The Add the Words campaign asks citizens from across the state to write testimonials and messages in support of the issue on sticky notes, which are posted daily on the glass doors inside Boise’s state capitol building. Post-its can be mailed to the individual participant’s senator and two representatives, as well as to the Add the Words PO Box in Boise, or can be emailed or texted to the Add the Words campaign. Instructions and information about the proposed legislation can be found at www.addthewords.org.
During last winter’s legislative session, sticky notes were posted on the doors of the Senate State Affairs Committee, urging the Chairman to allow a public hearing on the bill, with no success. However, grassroots efforts have been renewed this year, and appear stronger. The CDA press release quotes Mistie Tolman, spokesperson for Add the Words campaign:
“This year has been different than other years because of the level of public support for the issue. Events in places like Lewiston are powerful. They reinforce the over 400 sticky note messages from 50 towns around the state that we have received so far this winter. It is critical for community members and law makers to have this dialog. It is the hope of thousands of us across the state that law makers will give the legislation serious consideration this time.”
According to a Public Policy Survey conducted around the state by Boise State University in 2007, more than 63 percent of Idahoans believe it should be illegal to fire an employee because they are gay. For more information, see the fact sheet provided by Planned Parenthood Northwest, or read Jennifer Whitney’s article for this website from December 2011.
A schedule of all Day of Action Events can be found here: www.addthewords.org/events/index.html
Events for North Idaho include:
• Day of Action Rally in Coeur d’Alene, 6:00pm, Human Rights Education Institute, 414 Mullan Road, Coeur d’Alene, ID
• Day of Action Rally in Lewiston, 10:30am-11:30am at Lewis-Clark State College Student Union Building Room #225 (500 8th Avenue), Lewiston, ID.
• Day of Action Rally in Moscow, 11:00am to 1:00pm at the 1912 Center, 412 East Third Street, Moscow, ID. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Day of Action Rally in Plummer, 2:00-3:30pm, Plummer Community Center and Park (starting in community center, ending in park), 520 C Street, Plummer, ID. Co-sponsored by the Benewah Human Rights Coalition