Dozens of LGBT advocates returned to the Idaho Capitol Feb. 20, risking arrest in their latest of a string of Add the Words demonstrations that have, in large part, defined citizen advocacy at the Statehouse this February.
Approximately three dozen protesters first appeared at the third- and fourth-floor entrances to the Idaho Senate chambers, in their attempt to plead with Idaho lawmakers to add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Idaho's Human Rights Act. The protests have been, for the most part, silent, with advocates holding their hands over their mouths, indicating the refusal by the Legislature's Republican majority to even hold a public hearing on the matter.
A number of Idaho lawmakers made their way to the floor of the Senate through back entrances, and the Senate gavelled into session promptly at 10:30 a.m.
But Moscow Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt tried to enter the Senate chambers through the main entrance, where the protesters stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
"Are you going to let me in?"
"No," responded former Sen. Nicole LeFavour, one of the protesters.
As Schmidt approached some of the protesters, LeFavour said, more forcefully, "No!"
Meanwhile, Idaho State Police again moved in and began arresting a number of the Add the Words protesters.
LeFavour was among the first to be arrested Thursday morning.
Thursday's arrest marked LeFavour's second brush with Idaho State Police since the Feb. 3 protest, also outside of the Idaho Senate chambers, where she and 43 other protesters were cited for trespassing.
Boise Weekly's Harrison Berry snapped a unique photograph of Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter giving a ceremonial address on the first floor of the Capitol, honoring the Idaho State Police, as Add the Words protesters held their ground on the third and fourth floors of the Rotunda, outside of the entrances to the Senate chamber.
Lobbyist Julie Hart from Westerberg and Associates tried to get past the Add the Words protesters and said, "I understand what you people are doing here today, but what I'm here to do is protect Idaho children. But I'm hoping that you're listening to me and you're going to let me through."
Add the Words protesters insisted that they were willing to stay outside of the Senate chambers "as long as we have to."
UPDATE 6:26 p.m, Feb. 20, 2014.: