Opinion » Note

Beggaring Belief

LGBT rights take center stage

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This was supposed to be a generally informative Note, filled with a couple of tidbits (I'll work those in at the bottom), but recent events on the LGBT rights front in Idaho can't go unmentioned.

There will be more written and printed on this subject in the coming weeks--and almost certainly again in this space--but when a former lawmaker gets cited and escorted off the Statehouse grounds by Idaho State Police troopers, it bears a little opining.

On Feb. 3, former Sen. Nicole LeFavour was among the 44 people arrested by ISP for blocking the entrance to the Idaho Senate in protest over the Legislature's refusal after eight years to consider adding the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

It made for potent political theater: people ranging in age from teens to septuagenarians, wearing black shirts reading "Add The 4 Words Idaho," standing with their hands over their mouths in representation of the silence imposed on them by lawmakers' inaction.

It has served as yet another example of Idaho's intransigence in the face of a changing society. Cities across the state have already taken it upon themselves to enact similar measures protecting LGBT people from the kind of discrimination that went out of style with Jim Crow. So it beggars belief that lawmakers would not only fail to consider following suit with Add the Words, but--at the same time--discuss legislation like Rep. Lynn Luker's, which would protect business owners, doctors, teachers, police and others from the ramifications of refusing service to anyone (including LGBT people) due to their religious beliefs. There's no other way to say it: Jim Crow may be gone, but Jim Queer is alive and well in Idaho.

Now onto the tidbits: Readers may have noticed Martin A. Wilkie's elegant running horse on the cover of the Jan. 29 paper. Wilkie is picking up after Tim Andreae's 12-year-long project of contributing a cover each year corresponding to the Chinese calendar. In other cover news, applications are due for Boise Weekly's Cover Auction Grants no later than Friday, Feb. 14. Since its inception 12 years ago, BW has funneled more than $125,000 into local arts organizations through the grants. Finally, don't forget about BW's Fiction 101 reading, set for Thursday, Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m. at Rediscovered Books.