Silence is not really my thing.
I talk. For a living. I get in a pulpit and speak.
I use my voice all the time.
But today I participated in a silent protest at the Idaho State Capitol for Add the Words. There has been a campaign going for many years now to add 4 words to the Human Rights Code in Idaho. “Gender Identity” and “Sexual Orientation“. These 4 words would provide for protection for Idahoans who are gay and lesbian, giving them equal protection under the law, which is not currently the case in Idaho.
Fired from your job for being gay? Too bad.
A landlord won’t rent to you because you’re Transgender? Too bad.
Businesses discriminate you because of your sexual orientation? Welcome to Idaho.
This marks the 9th year the legislature has refused to even give the Add the Words Bill a hearing.
Last year, I was invited to use my voice to speak at a forum. You can read those remarks here.
Today I was invited to not use my voice. To stand in silence, acknowledging how many Idahoans do not currently have a voice in the Idaho legislature. 44 Idahoans were arrested for trespassing in the Capitol by standing in silent witness at the doors to the Senate chambers.
I wasn’t arrested. But I was standing on the steps outside the Capitol, also in silent protest. This was a much smaller crowd, and also included other clergy (as did the group of people arrested).
When we started at 8:30 am, it was snowing. When I left, a little after 11, the sun had come out, but it was still cold.
I went on with the rest of my day–took Elliott to the dentist, and then to piano and basketball. Went to my dance class. But I’ve been pondering the silence all day.
It was hard to stand there in silence. Some of us did better than others. But it was challenging to remain silent when people said “hello” to us on the way in the Capitol. Or when people asked us questions. I had a really difficult time not responding.
But for many Idahoans, their voices are not heard. My almost 3 hours of (mostly) silence seems a very small price to pay if it might help others receive the equality they deserve.
If you live in Idaho, and aren’t already connected to Add the Words, I invite you to support their work. And hope you will join us for future witness.
It seems we still have a long ways to go. Not only will the legislative leaders NOT give Add the Words a fair hearing, there is actually a bill being presented that would codify discrimination against people who are LGBTQ. Rep Lynn Luker is concerned his “Christian values” are under siege and wants to be able to discriminate in the name of religion. He seems to be afraid (and there are many (mainly) Republican lawmakers in Idaho who seem to agree with him) if everyone has equal rights under the law, he won’t be able to practice his faith as he would like to.
Even though he can’t come up with a single illustration of when a Christian has been inconvenienced by equality, he’s calling this a “pre-emptive strike”.
I may have been silent for 3 hours today. But I’m not going to be silent about this.
The right to practice religion in freedom does not extend to your right to force other people to share your religious views. His proposal does nothing to extend the grace of Jesus Christ or share the love of God. He does not speak for me and my Christian values of justice, and mercy, and love, and kindness, and inclusion, and hospitality, and grace.
If Rep. Luker’s proposal does NOT represent your understanding of “Christian values”, I encourage you to contact your state representatives and senators and let them know. Use your voice.
Because there are too many Idahoans whose voices, and lives, and health, and safety, are not important to the leaders in our state house.
This morning was a time for silent witness. Now it is time to speak out.
Hope you’ll join me.