BOISE -- Idaho State Police have arrested 44 gay-rights activists, saying their protest blocked entrances to the Idaho Senate chambers for more than two hours Monday.
They vowed to stay until lawmakers passed a bill adding discrimination protections to the Idaho Human Rights Act. More than three dozen protesters stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the various chamber entrances Monday morning.
Another group stood together on the Idaho Statehouse steps.
All wore "Add the Words Idaho" t-shirts and covered their mouths with their hands.
The activists were warned several times, then peacefully taken into custody shortly before 11 a.m. All were taken to a staging area on the fourth floor of the statehouse, cited with trespassing, and were later released.
Former state Senator Nicole LeFavour, a Boise Democrat and the Idaho Legislature's first openly gay lawmaker, participated in the protest. She said the group would block the senate entrances until lawmakers agreed to take up a bill adding protections for gay and transgender people to the Idaho Human Rights Act.
"It is time that the senate said that it is wrong say that it is wrong for people to hurt and be cruel to gay people in the state of Idaho, they've never said that," LeFavour told KTVB. "It's time for them to say it, because if they don't say it, they might as well say that it's fine."
LeFavour remained in the chamber for about 20 minutes after the others were taken away.
Members of Idaho's senate actually had to suspend the senate rules before LeFavour could be forced to leave. That's because little-known rule allows former senators access to the chamber at any time.
She was eventually also arrested.
Idaho Republicans have blocked passage of the "Add the Words" proposal for eight years, and they have declined to give such a plan a hearing this year.