An estimated 23 gay rights activists were arrested in Idaho yesterday morning after protesting in the Idaho House and Senate chambers, attempting to pressure lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination protections reports Boise State Public Radio. The activists, wearing black shirts that said, "Add the 4 words Idaho," warned they would not leave until legislators added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act. Protesters risked arrest if they did not disperse before the House and Senate convened; Police began to arrest protesters that refused to leave on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, two of whom were juveniles. The group issued a statement to the media on the matter.
"Plain and simply, it is time the Idaho Legislature to use its voice to set the field level for those who live quiet lives in all our communities, those who are your own daughters and sons, those who deserve for our state to set in law that unfair businesses practices and intentional cruelty and discrimination against them is wrong."
This protest follows similar protests held during 2014s legislative session; up to 100 protesters were charged and arrested with misdemeanor trespassing during those protests. Republican lawmakers rejected legislation that would have amended the state’s Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity earlier this year. A House committee heard over 20 hours of testimony, with most in favor of passing the bill however, concern over the bill’s impact on religious freedoms caused the panel to vote the measure down.