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From the Far Margins

But you went home

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Dear Makers of Idaho Law in Your High Marble Capitol,

We who've come north—the sons, daughters and descendants of those who immigrated—we thank you for leaving us in peace. We the refugees of war and those of us born in houses down the street, those who cried in nurseries next to your own babies, the ones who go to school next to your grandchildren, we who own stores, labor on your farms, treat you in clinics, change your sheets, drive your trucks, staff your factories, cook your food and build your houses, we thank you for not falling for the furor. While some would divide us based on a broken line in the desert south of Texas, based on a failure of our nation to imagine our economic and human interconnectedness and the need for us to be one America, you said no. You said city officers would not have to walk like border agents. You refused to let anyone make devils of the daughters and sons, fathers and mothers, of Idahoans. In all our languages and voices we sit down at dinner tables and we thank you.

We, the wounded and broken, those with tumors or suspicions, we were there at your door, on the marble steps asking for more than a SpongeBob Band-Aid. We said, "We paid taxes for this, sent checks in envelopes with stamps to the IRS," and you say no, we should buy aspirin, try home remedies, not get the lump checked, let our asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure wait until... until what? Until it's an ambulance ride? An emergency room visit? An operation, amputation, a hospital stay? And you know the hospital will turn into bigger bills for paying patients, or the county will send us off with the indigent and we will not in our lifetimes make enough to pay off the "loan." We asked you to expand Medicaid, we showed the loss and suffering, the grieving, and still you said no.

We, your gay sons and daughters, the transgender children hiding alone in your hallways, those of us old enough to fill out job applications, to negotiate contracts with construction firms and vendors, those old enough to pay rent or apply for scholarships, we've waited decades. We look in the mirror in the morning and wonder how queer we look. Will our body or voice betray us? Has our effort to grow our hair long to look more feminine failed? Did we forget to take off our wedding ring or let slip the wrong pronoun in the story of our life?

We, the mothers and fathers of the different, the ones who live in fear every time our child comes home crying or locks the door on that sad bedroom upstairs. We, whose children wear scars—literal ones—the ones who overdosed and survived, who crashed cars, drew nooses and talked of wanting to die, we have implored you. Can you not make the world something less to be feared? Can you not say the hate and criminal exclusions of beautiful human beings are wrong? Can you not add four words to law and let our children live, work, sleep in peace to wake and see a world as wide open to them as to the next child? But you said no, not this year, again, and you went home.

Those with dirt beneath our nails, with calloused hands and overalls, uniforms and note pads, mops and diapers, we came again concerned about how an hour of our work is worth $7. We came to say how even two full-time jobs will only almost pay rent and utilities and food, but not child care or medical bills, nor car repairs or the clothing our children need.

We came asking you to raise all boats, give us money to spend in your stores, to pay the repairmen and the plumbers. We asked that you say that the work of a human being is worth more than $7, because you would never clean a toilet—much less 10 of them—for $7. You would never pick grapes in the heat, spray chemicals and wade out where the snakes coil in the sun for $7. For a daily wage of $48 you would not bend all day digging, scraping hauling, shoveling or milking when the trees hang with frost and the ground has frozen. Who with dignity would? To eat, to choose work over welfare, we must. We asked you for more than $7.25 an hour and you said no.

We are the children of fanatics whose bodies are riddled with what our parents wouldn't do for us in the name of their god. We are ghosts, broken girls and boys, who will never play as your children did. We asked you to remember children can't consent to church membership, can't refuse to belong to a church that would kill them for God. Our belief in a kind god didn't matter. We asked not to be property. We asked not to be pawns in a power game between church and state. We asked you to draw a moral line, to put the sanctity of life before someone's belief in something unreasonable, something dangerous, and you said no.

Sincerely,

Idaho

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