'Add the Words' Protests Pop Up in Northern Idaho

by

After the "Add the Words" bill failed with a 13-4 vote against, many protested peacefully outside the hearing. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • After the "Add the Words" bill failed with a 13-4 vote against, many protested peacefully outside the hearing.

After the Idaho Legislature's House State Affairs Committee voted to kill the so-called "Add the Words" bill on Jan. 29, a huge group of those who had testified and observed the hearing during the course of four days lined the statehouse walls outside the Lincoln Auditorium with their hands over their mouths—hearkening back to last year's arrests of hundreds of protesters.

The protests continued on Jan. 31, according to the Coeur d'Alene Press

A group of 25 demonstrators stood, making the signature hand-over-mouth gesture during the Kootenai County state Legislature's town hall meeting in response to the committee's decision to kill the bill Thursday.

"By holding our hands over our mouths, we're representing that we're being denied a voice in the human Rights Act and that the words 'sexual orientation; and 'gender identity' are not included," 20-year-old Lauren Merlino told the Press. She currently serves as the president of North Idaho College's Gender and Sexuality Alliance.

The demonstrators stood silently in the rear of the room during the two-hour meeting. 

"I do think that our presence was very much noticed," Merlino said. "By being there, we forced them to notice us."

She added that she sensed tension in the room, where some people didn't approve of their presence, but she said others acted sympathetic toward their purpose.

"I know we'll be getting our rights, one way or another," she said.