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. 

…nicole

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

IMG_1668

Nicole’s Open Letter to Former Colleagues

Friends, Former Colleagues,  

I
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.

First,
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?

There
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?

I
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
brother?

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
statutes.

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.

…nicole

 

Former Senator Nicole LeFavour
Box 775 Boise, Idaho 83701
208 724-0468 • nicole@4idaho.org

 

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.

 Nicole-COMPOSITE-2

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.

NUMBERS

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.

CHANGING THE DEBATE

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.

GRATITUDE

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.

WHAT'S NEXT

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.

Nicole-DC-bwsq

 

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.

…nicole

 

You can buy TV Ads here: https://secure.actblue.com/page/nicole-on-tv

 

 

Add the Words 3rd VIDEO: Only Stronger

On February 10 the bill to Add the Words to include gay and transgender people in Idaho’s Human Rights Act was killed without a word of public testimony. For six years the Idaho legislature has refused to allow a single public hearing on the legislation to ban discrimination in employment, housing and education. Tell your Idaho law makers it is finally time to stand up and say discrimination is wrong. http://addthewords.org

Send your message now respectfully asking the Senators to reconsider the bill and Add the Words.

Sen. McKenzie: CMckenzie@senate.idaho.gov (208) 367-9400
Sen. McGee: JMcgee@senate.idaho.gov (208) 455-3950
Sen. Lodge: PALodge@senate.idaho.gov
Sen. Winder: CWinder@senate.idaho.gov (208) 343-2300
Sen. Fulcher: Rfulcher@senate.idaho.gov (208) 332-1340
Sen Davis: BMDavis@senate.idaho.gov (208) 522-8100
Sen. Hill: BHill@senate.idaho.gov (208) 356-3677

Letters to the Editor Idaho Statesman: https://forms.idahostatesman.com/lettertoeditor/

Idaho Press Tribune: You may mail, fax or e-mail your letter to the editor, but letters must include your full name (no initials), home address and daytime and evening telephone numbers for verification. If you have questions regarding your letter, please call (208) 465-8115 or e-mail:
op-ed@idahopress.com

………………………………..

Add the Words Idaho is an all volunteer organization of people all across Idaho working to demonstrate the level of public support for inclusion of gay and transgender Idahoans in the state’s laws banning discrimination in employment, housing education and public accommodation. Add the Words has gathered over 2000 messages to Idaho legislators written on sticky notes from people in more than 60 Idaho towns. http://addthewords.org

Thanks to Lucy Juarez for video footage, and to Jim Huggins and Stacy Ericson for still photos. Thanks to Lisa Perry and all those organizing or participating in positive silent protests across the state.
Thanks to Dave at Rail Tees on Overland for the Add the Words T-shirt design and printing.

Live in Boise? Find out how you can post your sticky note in the statehouse any time, day or night.

http://addthewords.org

Idaho’s Reverse New Deal

IMG_9428

Today I sit at home at my living room table, a scarf, hot tea and afternoon sun keeping me from feeling the cold of the house– which we keep in the low 50s except when the wood stove is burning. We are trying right now to avoid buying another cord of wood from our favorite man with an axe. If things felt more hopeful economically we might spring for it. But In this environment, we all have our own ways of being frugal.

Tomorrow, Idaho's economic outlook committee will meet deep in the polished underground wings of the Capitol. We'll make wild guesses as to how much money Idahoans will pay in taxes in the year ahead. I've served all 8 years of my 4 terms in the Idaho legislature on this committee. I have a record of regular closest "guesses" at total tax revenues, a fact that's pleasing in good years but grim in years like 2009 when Idaho's economy began to take its dive.

The number we pick in the next week will set a limit for how much money we have to spend in our next state budget. We all know the number gets good when more people are employed and buy goods and services. Businesses do better then as well. And from it all, the state collects tax revenues which will fund elementary schools and community colleges, parks and drug treatment programs.

Does anyone think this year the Idaho legislature will suddenly re-consider our current strategy of telling every single state agency, "This year, no building anything, no hiring anyone, no replacing broken items or taking on new projects?" No. This three year austerity strategy has cost Idaho over 3000 state jobs. And somehow the Governor still seems proud of it.

When America had its last great depression, rather than paying unemployment for laid off workers, government paid them to do jobs communities needed to have done. Idaho has closed parks, health department offices, scaled back mental health treatment programs, laid off school teachers, increased class sizes in schools colleges and universities and much more.

Yet I'm sad to say I suspect those who loathe government will have their way with our economy again. They will continue the austerity in spite of the fact that it's hurting the very people who cry for lower taxes. Business owners. It all cycles around. Even 2000 jobs would do a lot for the Idaho economy, for builders, retailers, restaurants, and those who sell cord wood or consumer services. If we resisted the urge to deepen tax breaks and exemptions and focused instead on creating the most needed of state jobs, we might just inspire a few business owners to do a bit of hiring themselves. Imagine that.

 

If it Doesn’t Work

Off through the dark tonight the stathouse grounds are cold and snowless. When the gavel falls and the 2012 session begins on January 9th, I will begin my 8th year serving in the Idaho legislature. After what seem like so many years, I still come to the work with the expectation that what lies ahead holds some promise of hope. I work hard to hold onto that.

Each year is different. That is comforting. It could be better.

But going into this session I hear far too many whisperings of Republican colleagues setting their agendas and limiting the range of legislation they will support based on what they think the extreme of their party demands. This will be an eleaction year. New closed Republican primaries are unknown enough to strike fear into every moderate heart.

Tonight as vapor clings in frozen patterns on windsheids and cold cuts deep into every stone, I have a caution for my colleagues: You give them this power. With their threats will they now get everything they want? While perfectly reasonable people elected you, often by overwealming margins, will you none the less vote in the interest of the few in your districts who wish you ill and in May will seek to drive you from office regardless of how you answer their threats?

And what if you wake up tomorrow and those who elected you for your intelligence and integrity grow disgusted? What if those who purposely elected you as a moderate, a reasonable person, what if they abandon you and stay home on election day or vote for Democrats because of the compormises you made out of fear of the central committee lynch mobs down the street?

What if standing for what you believe in your heart inspires others to do the same? What if it inspires people at home in their houses to work for you, to grow passionate in their support?

Which will you really choose?

Don't bother telling me you have no choice. I see those conversations coming. Do you really think that voting the way they want will make them easier on you? Sadly, I suspect no matter how you vote those cross hairs will still be leveled at your heart.

To Those In Favor of Bullying

I've paced every bit of marble around the rotunda between the two chambers many times today. I've been on the phone and visited members in their rabbit warren of basement office suites one after another. Senate members have talked to House members with me but it is no good now. The bullying bill S1105 is dead. It died on the calendar for lack of consideration.

To the young people from Sandpoint, Nampa, Jerome, Boise, Challis and across the state who I have told "It gets Better" — I need you to know, it does. Even if the most powerful in our state don't all yet understand the road you've walked, the strength you have had to find inside your selves when others said you had none. Still it gets better. I have promised to make it better — and I will. We will.

This year we tried so hard and came so close. But you must know there are people here who have not heard your stories. There are elected Representatives who think that bullying makes a person stronger. They need to understand how wrong that is.

And yes I asked them:

Have you never walked then in the shoes of a child whose family has rejected them, their church has turned them away, and now, at school, they are taunted or hit by those who think difference is a weakness — that it gives others a license to cause pain.

Have you never been a child whose life is a struggle on its own –and for whom school could be salvation or a hell –but because of the calculated cruelty of just one person, it does become a hell.

Have you have never watched a young person fail to see the beauty inside themselves? Have you watched someone see nothing but darkness — no strength or promise — until that they take their own life?

If you ever imagined such sadness, you might have fought for this bill.

But the House has just gaveled an end and adjourned for the year. The Senate has been done for a few hours. The kind words there flowed for a bit like and odd balm after three months of battle. The issues from closed primaries to rejecting federal health reform, cutting mental health treatment and education all split the Republican Party and the Senate itself again and again.

And the bill to make it better for young people died.

 

……………………………………

There is no end in this though only a beginning because there need to be more voices next year. If you have stories you need to share them. We need them. We need you to help us make sure it gets better. humanrights@4idaho.org

Hard Endings

In these last days, the boxes come out. Empty stacks of them line the halls like flimsy coffins. Senator McKenzie announced this morning we have tied now with the 10th longest session in our 121 year history. By Friday we will tie with the 5th longest. Yet this one with its gut wrenching policies and passionate, even desperate bipartisan debate, seems to have passed like a blurred dream.

–Long evenings pouring over each new version of Tom Luna's long, painful bills to find any change, the implications of each new word or deletion.

–Walking in here from dark streets in the snow or rain or cold. People honking, waving, thumbs up.

–Streams of email like water, where my email box came alive, filling faster than i could read or move to sort or answer.

–The tears of teachers. Many times. Passing words. Me wishing I could say how sorry I am, in my core.

And somehow I expected we would do more than just damage, that there would be a limit to the damage we were willing to do. But, with a few brilliant exceptions, we moderates and Democrats lost every major floor debate: protecting schools; trying to stop the bleeding in Medicaid, mental health and disability services; protecting private end of life and medical decisions; opposing the Republican Party's attempts to strip voters bare, branding party affiliation in waterproof marker on every human chest.

And here I need to say this –say the Republican Party seems broken, bogged down in divisive social and anti-government issues that have been impairing its ability to deal with our state's failure to recover economically; to grow not destroy jobs; protect services which people's lives depend on; stop policy that is already demoralizing and decimating the most important profession in this state, policy which gives millions away to corporations under the guise of reform.

I wish all those moderates out there and in here who have been bashed and bloodied — those who have had enough of all this would join Democrats, help us re-build the Democratic Party back to something powerful enough to check this freight train that is taking our schools and economy downhill before our eyes. What more does it take? What more has to happen? What more can they do to you?

Primary Transgression

On the floor of the Senate in afternoon session. The sun shines down from above through the frosted sky lights and we Democrats are posing a long series of questions to Brent Hill, the Senator charged with carrying the Republican Party's closed primary bill.

The bill gets personal to me. As you dig through the layers you find that not only does it allow Republicans to do as they have long wished to and close their primary races off to Democrats or even independent voters, but in fact it forces counties all over the state to reveal publicly which ballot an independent or unaffiliated voter chooses when they come to vote in any primary election — even a Democratic primary that our party will keep open to anyone.

Even worse, this choice of chosen primary ballot by an unaffiliated or independent voter will become an assigned party affiliation for that voter if they choose to vote in a primary that is closed by a party like the Republican Party. And it will not be easy for voters under this legislation to get your names again unaffiliated and  your selves once again unassociated with a political party if you perhaps don't live and die by political parties and you want instead to vote for the candidate of your choice without having a Political Party listed by your name.

But today the debate is unlike any I've seen. Many Republicans in this room smile at our questions, nod and many even laughed when Diane Bilyeu asked Senator Hill to explain why the Republican Party brought the lawsuit that forced the state to pass legislation changing its primary elections. It was a bold question and Senator Hill answered that he could not explain that.

But Senator Siddoway just now stood, clearly shaken, he broke ranks and debated how the Republican Party has forced its way into the Capitol "into our house" to make him and others pass this legislation. In the gallery, Rod Beck, former Republican Party Chair sat watching. Siddoway concluded his debate against the bill telling Senators to vote yes. Many laughed. His statement obviously adhered to whatever agreement was reached on this bill in the closed Republican caucus meeting held yesterday upstairs in the grand room facing West.

Like Senator Siddoway, I grew up in the small town wilds of rural East central Idaho where privacy is precious. This bill did not have to trample on Idaho's privacy. No court or judge or constitution dictated that it do that — but sadly that is exactly what the Republican Party has chosen that it will do, that the state will do and that we all must suffer with as this bill flies through the statehouse to become law.

Posts navigation

1 2 3