New focus for Boise's 24th gay pride event

As participants mark some Idaho victories, attention turns to youth and families.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comJune 20, 2014 

pride, gay, lesbian, transgender, bi, gay pride, boise, state ca

Leslie Maggard, center, and partner Kristi Watson help hold up a large rainbow flag while marching down 9th Avenue during the Boise gay pride celebration in 2013.

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    This year Boise's gay pride festival is moving from Ann Morrison Park to the BoDo district at 8th and Broad streets.

    Saturday's festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with a rally at the Capitol, followed by a parade to BoDo, where the festival will take place until 5 p.m.

    The rally, parade and festival are free.

    A $20 Pride Pass gets festivalgoers into five venues featuring more than 30 entertainment acts, along with Friday night's kickoff party, which starts at 10 p.m. at Lucky Dog Tavern, 2223 W. Fairview Ave.

    Other Saturday events:

    • 6 p.m. Common Ground Community Chorus and Boise Gay Men's Chorus at The Knitting Factory. $10.

    • 8 to 10 p.m. Youth celebration at the Knitting Factory. $10.

    • 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. White Party at the Knit. $15.

The nation's first gay pride parades took place in June 1970 in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to mark the first anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the beginning of the gay rights movement.

Boise Pridefest will celebrate Idaho's own watershed on Saturday: A federal judge struck down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban last month. Earlier this year, a unanimous Idaho Supreme Court ruled that second-parent adoptions by gay couples are legal. And a series of protests during this winter's session of the Idaho Legislature focused pressure on legislators and national attention on the fact that Idaho law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"This is a huge turning point in civil rights and human rights," said Boise Pridefest coordinator Rodney Busbee. "People are excited. People are proud of what is happening. People are proud of who they are and proud they are finally being seen as equal."

Since June 13, 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, federal and state courts have handed down 20 rulings in favor of same-sex marriage and none against it, according to Freedom to Marry, which tracks such litigation. Nationwide, 74 lawsuits are pending in 32 states or territories. Every state with a ban on same-sex marriage has pending litigation, including Idaho.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale struck down Idaho's 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages. The state appealed Dale's ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a stay on Dale's ruling. The circuit judges will hear arguments in September.

It's not just gay marriage that has captured public attention and headlines. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced that he'll sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, which could affect millions of workers.

Even though this year's Boise Pridefest might be more celebratory, it is also more mindful. "This year's event is more family- and youth-focused," Busbee said.

For the first time, a youth celebration is among the many events.

"We did this because of all the suicides going on around the state. We decided we needed to focus on our youth and let them know they are loved and that we care," Busbee said.

"I have had so many parents call and thank us for giving their child an outlet to be normal."

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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