Adding the Words: What We Agree On

Add the 4 Words protest January 2017 Idaho State Capitol.
Add the Words Idaho Legislature. Say discrimination against gay and transgender people is wrong.

The first amendment of the US Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of religion is one which I and other advocates for Add the Words respect deeply. We respect it every bit as much as Idaho legislative leaders do.

Out of this respect, some of us have agreed and have a willingness to make clear in the bill, to spell out and reiterate the exact nature of first amendment rights as they relate to the inclusion of gay and transgender people in Idaho’s human rights act. Most notable is number 5 which assures business owners that they can not be compelled to produce speech (as in writing on a cake or printing on a t-shirt. I myself for example would never make a racist t-shirt if I owned a t-shirt shop.) This is a fundamental first amendment right. In fact, recently, higher courts appear to agree with what the language in number 5 below states.

Yes, we agree, a business must bake a cake or sell a t-shirt, but that business does not have to write on a product a message that’s different in meaning from what they would write on a product for any other customer.

The language below is what we have proposed could be included in the Idaho Human Rights Act at the addition of the enumerated classes “sexual orientation, gender identity.” The act prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodation, meaning business and government services.

The inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in this act

1. Affirms the individual religious liberties guaranteed under the provisions of the Idaho Human Rights Act, federal law the U.S. Constitution as well as other sections of Idaho code

2. Affirms the rights of churches and clergy to refuse to solemnize marriages on church grounds or as a part of activities organized by a 501c3 religious organization

3. Affirms the rights of clergy and church staff in performance of their religious duties as part of a 501c3 religious organization, to refuse solemnize any marriage or to refuse to participate in or celebrate any marriage or union

4. Affirms the right of business owners to refuse to provide products, accessories, decorations or other items not otherwise produced, included, or offered for sale to other customers by that proprietor’s businesses

5. Affirms the first amendment rights of individual business owners, including the right to refuse to customize products or produce individually tailored services if the entire product, decoration of the product, or service itself is written or verbal speech which differs substantively in content rather than in context, from that produced or made available by the business to other customers

6. Affirms the rights of business owners to establish standards of dress if the standards do not otherwise violate this act and are applied equally to all employees, with the exception of persons with disabilities needing accommodation or those exercising their rights to religious or other expression as established by federal law and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution

We Are Not Utah. We Are Idaho.

Add the Four Words protest Judy Cross and Ty Carson end of legislative session 2014Yesterday, after another year of work asking Idaho legislative leaders to include gay and transgender people in Idaho’s longstanding and well tested nondiscrimination laws, I received the following letter from Senate Leader Brent Hill on behalf of himself, Senate Leaders and Governor Otter:


It was titled: “Thanks”

Dear Nicole,
Thank you for the note. I appreciate your desire to work something out on legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that is still respectful of religious rights and freedoms. Please understand, though, that “public accommodations” are not on the table. If you are interested in a balanced approach resembling Utah’s compromise, I would be happy to visit, but, as I have already indicated, feedback I am getting from my colleagues clearly indicates that there is not sufficient support in either the House or the Senate to advance even a Utah-style solution.

Again, if you and your associates want to help advance legislation not addressing public accommodations and similar to Utah’s, I would be happy to work with you to see if we could garnish enough support to give it a try. Anything more aggressive on your part is not achievable.




This is my response:

Senator Hill and Senators Davis, Winder and Governor Otter,
I am surprised by and do not understand your answer. I have asked over and over to understand why you are comfortable with the idea of Idahoans working next to gay and transgender people or renting housing to us, but will not ensure that people sell us groceries, serve us food, pump gasoline, fix our broken cars or repair our washing machines. Why is public accommodation like this unacceptable to you? I’m mystified to hear you four state leaders –whom I consider compassionate, humane people– I’m mystified to hear you insist that gay and transgender people are not human enough to be fully included in our state human rights act.
Do you see us as deserving of the daily humiliation of being turned away from businesses in communities across the state?
Do you not care that young people, especially in small communities, will simply continue to despair knowing this humiliation awaits them, even after the brutality of high school?
I don’t understand. I thought better of all of you.
I also think you grossly misunderstand the will of the body, in both the house and senate. A majority are waiting for your lead in somehow solving this problem. Because of Senator Lakey’s fundamental lack of openness on this issue, using him to conduct a head count is a grave error. Many members have gay and transgender children, siblings, friends and family they feel should live with a greater sense of security and the liberty to work hard, support their families and do business in their own communities and the state they love. You will never know or see this because of the way you approach this issue with them.
I will publicly respond taking the Utah bill point by point to show why we in Idaho would never want legislation like that in our state. Not only did it set back Utah cities in the protections they had been able to afford to hard working citizens of their communities, but language included in it essentially destroyed the very protections it pretended to extend. I think you all, including Senator Davis, respect my intelligence more than to think I would ever agree to harm the very people I am trying to save from lives of uncertainty and loss.
I think you understand that attitudes which set us apart as lesser, as undeserving of the protections extended to other classes of humans, simply reinforce the idea that we are deserving of hate and violence. And you must know by now that we do face hate and violence.
This is not a proud day for our state. Not a proud time. I gave you years of work, language to place within public accommodation to genuinely try to address concerns and solve the problems you were willing to share, and yet that is not enough? And after asking again and again to understand what further in public accommodation remains a problem, you still won’t answer?
I am saddened beyond belief by your failure to show compassion, your failure to be willing to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong. I am saddened that instead you would like to write into law a lessening of our humanity, a trojan horse of kindness to save face for yourselves.
This is a sad day but perhaps a necessary one. I have honestly defended each of you to the good people of this state. I am done with that role. I am done having faith in the hearts of each of you.
Former Senator
Nicole LeFavour
You can send a letter to your legislators explaining the harm done when they again fail at passing legislation to fully include gay and transgender people in Idaho’s non discrimination laws. Persuade them it is time and that we need their support in moving Senate leaders to finally add the words.

I’m still here

It's true, I'm no longer sitting in that seat on the floor of the Idaho Senate or House. I'm not rising to speak when something needs to be said, but my voice is still out here and in the Capitol each year, and though I'm often invisible, I will be in the big marble building gathering others and working quietly until gay and transgender people are finally safe here, our jobs and livelihoods and families are no longer at risk –whether we are exercising our constitutional right to marry or just simply trying to shop at a store or eat dinner in a restaurant. It is 2016. We should be safe and not have to fear that our state by its silence endorses violence against us. We should not have to fear being turned away from businesses.

In my heart I know our state is better than the policy it allows to be printed in its books of code.

I'm going nowhere until the laws change and good people are included in our state anti-discrimination statutes. I am going nowhere until hard working neighbors and friends are afforded the dignity of having recourse when they face discrimination, violence and acts of cruelty. For Idaho, it will get better. To the young I say remember the love of all of us out here and know that people can be better and braver and kinder than our laws.

It's 2016. Be brave. Let's make it so Idaho. 


Former Idaho Senator Nicole LeFavour

I write a column every other week called From the Far Margin. I write on many topics. You might like: Three Red Lights, In Favor of Pitchforks, Walls of Ice, The Beauty of Dream


In the Interest of Both Church and State

The U.S. Constitution begs us not to let religion conflict with protecting the lives & liberties of those whom we, as public servants, are sworn to govern and serve. Some will always use religion to grasp at reasons to continue long traditions of discrimination. But in a civil society, to permit some to treat any group of humans as less– by depriving them of employment, housing or public service by businesses –simply runs counter to the values our nation was founded to embody. On no level of government should discrimination be enshrined, not for the sake of commerce or to appease any religion. Ever.

Nicole’s Open Letter to Former Colleagues

Friends, Former Colleagues,  

no longer serve with you, but I’d like to say a few words. You, of the
Idaho House and Senate, I think you know in your hearts, you still have
work to do.

I never was allowed the privilege of bringing a
bill to “add the words” to the floor of the house or senate. I'd like
to you to hear what I would have said had i been granted that dignity. I
can not do justice to all the lives affected. There is so much you will
hear when you finally listen to the stories of gay people, your sons
and daughters, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and silent friends.

despair takes far too many of young people. It never should. Please
consider the loneliness of a young person who has been rejected by their
parents, then their church, even their friends. Too many stand over
sinks with razors or knives alone, because no one stood to protect them
when the world grew cruel.

You may feel this matter is not
a place for policy but for church or family. But what of when one or
both fail good people? Should any one of God's beautiful young creations
feel they are unworthy of life? What if this were your child?

is sometimes folly in religions when they need to find demons from
among us. Every century, every decade has had them. And politics takes
them up because what church preaches is powerful. It motivates action
and votes. But at the expense of lives? So people we love live in fear
of meeting a baseball bat in a parking lot or alley?

know none of you wish harm on anyone. Tragically though, this
legislature’s failure to act is the same as an endorsement of the
violence, a nod to the unworthiness people feel when they live in fear
and no one will stand for them. In the far, most rural parts of Idaho it
can be the hardest. What if this were your child? Your sister or

Politics and political parties are not your
highest obligation as law makers or as citizens of this beautiful state.
Your highest obligation is to protect lives, to ensure freedom, liberty
and life. 

Please. This is so simple. Idaho already has laws that decry
cruelty on the basis of chosen religion, race, disability, national
origin, age over 40 and gender. Every business in Idaho operates within
these laws and has for decades. The laws mediate and protect businesses
and as much as alleged victims. They allow penalization
only for blatant, intentional, systematic acts of cruelty; the kind
trampling of a person’s liberty that we all feel civilized societies can
not function with or tolerate. It is very simple to include gay and
transgender people, my people, me, within these existing public safety

Please, understand lives will be lost quietly each year, each month, you do not to act, each day that more of us despair.

Thank you for reading this. Please put conscience before politics. With respect.



Former Senator Nicole LeFavour
Box 775 Boise, Idaho 83701
208 724-0468 •


P.S. This
bill is so simple. Just insert four words “sexual orientation, gender
identity” within the Idaho Human Rights Act which is the state’s
existing fair employment, housing and education law.

The Speaker or Pro Tem could request a hearing on the bill and it would, as you all well know, with your help, still have time to pass this year. Please.


Photos from the Road

Photos from my 2012 Campaign for U.S. Congress.

500 Volunteers. 10 Staff. 4 field offices. 2000 donors. Over $300,000 raised from regular ordinary Idahoans. 110,000 votes in one of the toughest years to run as a Democrat in Idaho. Over 1/4 million phone calls made. Over 25,000 voters contacted and logged. More votes than any Democrat has gotten in the East half of the state ever.

With my deepest respect & gratitude: Thank you all. With LOVE & hope that we can & will do better. My staff is phenomenal. We would be nothing but 10 people in a cafe without all of YOU who gave time or money to make this happen. We organized half the state in ways that helped other candidates on November 6th. The work you all did will continue to help many in the years ahead.
What will I do next. I don’t know. I do know it’s not over Idaho.
.. nicole

Stay in touch:

What to Celebrate

Nicole-field-good-crop-smEight months ago, standing in the statehouse considering whether to run for Congress, I figured I could run a good
campaign. What's amazing is that, together with thousands of you, my team ran the best campaign many have
ever seen run in Idaho. Stronger, better organized, more tech savvy, more deeply rooted in communities and more issue-focused than I could have imagined.


Thirty-five percent of the vote. While that sounds dismal, it still means more than 110,000 voters chose me over Mike Simpson on Tuesday. I think that's ten thousand more votes in the east half of the state than any democrat in any congressional or statewide race has ever gotten. And in spite of how LDS enthusiasm for Mitt Romney made this one of the most difficult possible years to run as a Democrat in Idaho, it appears that our campaign brought in about 25,000 new voters to participate in this election. That's an impressive twenty-five thousand people who did not vote in the 2008 presidential race.

We engaged Idaho's powerful Hispanic community and worked so hard that Mike Simpson gained fewer than 2,000 votes from the Romney tide. In fact thousands of LDS men and women and more than 10,000 Republicans and Independents voted for me. That was the work we all did on the phones and the doors –and it mattered.


More than anything, you all allowed me to finally have the resources to use TV and direct mail to push back on issues we so rarely get to re-define here in Idaho. I'm proud we exposed the attitudes that have led to Idaho's grim record on fair pay for women and the kind of cowardice that allowed passage of the Luna laws. We also changed the debate on budget cuts by focusing on job loss, and
explained who the job creators really are in the economy and why.

And last but not least, we've put to rest the question of whether Idahoans will actually vote for a gay person.


I feel profoundly grateful to you all. From the unemployed carpenter who gave me four dollars, to the Republican mothers,
fathers and working people who've crossed streets and sent email to tell me they
voted for me. From the long hours and tremendous heart, hard work and intelligence of my staff and volunteers, to the sense that so many of you gave your time and money because this work is something you believe in.

This has been the most amazing experience of my life. We've made history. Idaho needs us all to keep talking to neighbors over picket fences in our communities, volunteering to organize other volunteers, raising money or using phone calls to change minds on the issues we care about — perhaps to strengthen political organizations and non-profits, to run campaigns or, for many of you, to run for office yourselves.


I have no idea what I'm doing next but I love this state. Sadly, Idaho has failed so many families who've faced hardship these past years, those who've lost jobs and homes or small businesses; those who've waited so long for respect and dignity or legal status; those who strive for simple security or the tools for independence; those who struggle to pay for a college degree or just to put a meal on the table.

The work is not over. What you all have done is so beautiful. Many of you came to this because you care and believe Idaho and its policy makers can do better. Lives depend on all of us using our skills to motivate friends to challenge our Idaho Congressmen, state lawmakers and local officials when policies become cruel or disrespectful.

For the lives and futures of people we care about, let's carry with us what we did this year and make this congressional campaign not an end, but a beginning.


Thank you. Idaho, you continue to amaze me.



When I filed to run for office in March, I couldn't have
imagined what beautiful things I'd see in this state, in its people, in
the generosity and passion and kindness so many have shown me. Every
day I am humbled by how much people give to this campaign. I am humbled
by the words of encouragement from people I pass on the street, by
people who open their doors to talk about issues they care about, by
students who come and spend spare hours on phones talking to strangers
about me and what matters this election.

I'm humbled by those who gave time or any amount of money to keep
this campaign strong so that we've been able to open offices across the
district in Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Twin Falls. A few days ago we
reached an important marking point. We exceeded the amount raised by all
the Democratic challengers to Mike Simpson combined. And it will take
that and more to win on November 6. But it is an important marking
point and it shows why some of us have faith in what's possible in this
state. It also shows how serious this campaign is.

We have so much to celebrate today. We have met goals I wasn't sure
I'd be able to meet. It will take a few days to count but with the mail,
the credit card donations and pledges into our offices, we think we
will exceed what we thought possible for yesterdays deadline. Amazing.

I look around and every day I'm astounded by the creativity and hard
work of my staff and particularly the field team, and the solid
leadership of Ryan Hill, the let's get this done brilliance of Rialin
Flores my finance director and the many of you who have talked to others
or raised funds for me these past months by hosting house parties or
calling and asking friends to give.

We have a month more now to raise what it will take to buy television
and the last of our mail. So no, it's not over. I have more weeks of
torturing you all with my asks for donations.

But last night proved we can do this. The total fundraising goal of
our plan is within reach now. With new donors, more house parties, more
generosity and creativity and passion, I know now that I can raise what
it takes and run the kind of campaign it will take to win on November
6th — to become Idaho's next Congresswoman. Thanks to you, I can say I
know this now.

To all those willing to work hard for what matters to them, my deepest deepest thanks, You just continue to amaze me. 

Just 5 weeks left. For me, no resting. Back to work. Again, thank you.



You can buy TV Ads here:



Congressional Budget Cuts Decimating Jobs

Nicole 2 smile 1823As a member of the House Budget Committee today voting to oppose a
continuing resolution to keep

from shutting every federal agency and
service down, Rep. Mike Simpson does little to offer solutions to the
current budget stalemate.

As a state lawmaker who has served for four
years balancing Idaho budgets and dealing with fiscal crises, it seems
clear to me that those offering a "cuts only" approach to eliminating
the deficit and passing a budget, have created not only this impasse but
in part also created our nation's continuing economic crisis.

Over the course of the past five years federal budget cuts have
eliminated more than 600,000 American jobs. Congress still pays
unemployment benefits to a great number of these workers. We have to
ask, if job creation is the most critical key to economic recovery, why
has congress not restored these jobs so those families again have full
income to support their community's small businesses, American
manufacturers and our nation's economy?

Like many, I fear Congress these past two years has delayed addressing
real economic issues in the interest of keeping the economy down until
after the November election. Essentially they have played politics with
American lives. This sort of partisanship has decimated jobs, families,
security and the values of cooperation and compassion which made this
country great.

It is time for Congressman Simpson to do the real work of proposing a
budget that takes into account that the problem with our deficit goes
beyond simple government spending and has an equal amount to do with
fighting two wars and refusing to roll back eight years of tax cuts that
have benefited the nation's most wealthy, obviously with no positive
economic affect.

Rep. Simpson has voted more than once in favor of the Ryan Budget which
further decimates jobs while cutting and essentially privatizing social
security and Medicare for future generations of American seniors. Paul
Ryan's budget is no solution to our nation's economic problems and is
not a proposal any thinking policy maker would seriously consider as a
compromise to resolve the current budget impasse.

Yes, it is time for Congress to get to work and to take seriously the
affect that repeated cuts have on the economy. It is time for them to
look all of us in the eye and ensure for once they are not decimating
jobs more quickly than America's private sector can create them.


Senator Nicole LeFavour grew up on a ranch in rural Custer County in Central Idaho. She’s well-known across the state as a hard working legislator, respected advocate and teacher. In her eight years in the Idaho legislature, Senator LeFavour built strong relationships with Democratic and Republican colleagues from across the political spectrum. She earned bi-partisan support on her legislation year after year and has been formally recognized for her leadership by local and national organizations.





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