by Andrew Crisp
After the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 this morning, rejecting a bill that would protect gay, lesbian and transgender Idahoans from discrimination, supporters regrouped to show their disapproval by protesting the full Senate from the public gallery.
"Going forward, we're just not stopping," said Mistie Tolman, spokesman for Add the Words. "It was a heartbreaking thing to witness happen."
Tolman and supporters proved their resolve with an event after the hearing. At 11 a.m., the supporters filed into seats that look down on the Senate. Shortly thereafter, during the fifth order of business, Boise Democrat Sen. Nicole LeFavour walked quietly up to the dais and placed a sticky note on it.
The Senate was promptly put at ease with the bang of the gavel, and Rexburg Republican Sen. Brent Hill walked forward to remove the sticky note. Later, the lawmakers applauded the audience when Sen. LeFavour used a point of privilege to welcome them.
Upon adjournment of the Senate, which ironically included the state's annual tribute to President Abraham Lincoln, members in the gallery stood and placed their hands over their mouths, many of them wearing "Add the Words, Idaho" T-shirts.
"I understand that they feel like they're here for their constituents," said Tolman. "And they have to vote the way their constituents want; I get that. But I think they're wrong about whether or not their constituents would support that."
She said that while they may not be able to address this issue again this session, they'll be working on public outreach to grow the cause.
"Going forward, what our main goal needs to be is to bridge that gap between Idaho Citizens and the Idaho Legislature," she said. "Truthfully, I do feel like it's all political. Most of the people we've talked to actually don't believe that you should be able to fire someone for being gay."
The Add the Words campaign is already handing out free posters that reads, "They didn't vote for Add the Words ... so next time vote them OUT," followed by the names of the Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure.