Several Boise Pride Festival sponsors withdraw participation after criticism from Idaho GOP

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At least three companies or organizations sponsoring this weekend’s Boise Pride Festival have withdrawn their participation in the event as Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon called on supporters to contact festival sponsors and to withdraw their financial support from these sponsors.

Zions Bank, Idaho Power and the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness were sponsors of the Boise Pride Festival but withdrew their participation after Moon began issuing a series of statements condemning children’s participation in the festival. event on Wednesday.

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First held in 1989, the Boise Pride Festival is an annual event and celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. The event is scheduled to take place Friday through Sunday in downtown Boise. According to the event’s website, organizers “strive to promote unity and celebrate diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities by engaging the Boise community year-round.”

In a statement, Idaho Power said it had security concerns at the event.

Due to programming changes that occurred after our sponsorship and concerns for the safety of our employees and volunteers, we have withdrawn our participation in the Boise Pride event,” Idaho Power spokesman Brad Bowlin said in a statement. a written statement issued Thursday. “We will continue to support our diverse communities.”

The Idaho Capital Sun requested additional information about Bowlin’s programming changes and safety concerns.

Boise Pride Festival organizers could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

How are law enforcement preparing for the Boise Pride Festival?

JThe Ada County Sheriff’s Office has not received any specific threats related to the event but has been inundated with over 100 emails, phone calls and direct messages from people who oppose the Pride event, according to a spokesperson.

However, the event is taking place in the city of Boise, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Boise Police Department.

Idaho State Police troopers will be assigned to the Idaho Capitol across from the park. The FAI works closely with Boise police when events are nearby, an FAI spokesperson said.

Haley Williams, spokesperson for the Boise Police Department, said the agency “is working to keep everyone in downtown Boise safe. As with any special event, we are working with event organizers to create security plans and carefully assess problems.

The department will have officers stationed at the festival who “stand ready to respond to any potential issues” if necessary. Williams added, “We value our partnership with our community and have to ask that if you see something, say something.”

Williams said the security plans “are not available for public release.”

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, listens to the discussion on the floor of the House at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho Republican Party lists phone numbers of Boise Pride Festival sponsors in statements

Moon released three public statements regarding the Boise Pride Festival between Wednesday and Thursday. In one of Thursday’s statements, Moon listed the phone numbers of 20 companies or organizations sponsoring the Boise Pride Festival. Moon called on Idahoans to call the companies, express their disappointment in sponsoring the festival, and then stop financially supporting the sponsors. Moon also appealed to community organizations and religious groups to stage peaceful counter-protests at the Boise Pride Festival.

The far-right Idaho Liberty Dogs group is promoting Boise Pride Festival counter-protests scheduled for Friday and Sunday in downtown Boise on their social media.

Moon and far-right opponents of the Boise Pride Festival oppose two events scheduled for Sunday – drag story time and a drag show featuring children who had parental permission to perform. Without providing details or evidence, Moon alleged that the festival promotes the sexualization of children.

“Boise Pride Fest sponsors include many publicly funded institutions, including public universities and healthcare organizations,” Moon wrote in a statement to supporters Thursday. “As if these institutions were using taxpayers’ money to sponsor or promote this event.”

In a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, Boise Pride Festival organizers said they had postponed the children’s drag event due to safety concerns.

“The health and well-being of children, their parents and festival attendees is our priority,” Boise Pride festival organizers said.

In an earlier statement released Wednesday, Boise Pride festival organizers said the drag kids event “is a celebration of self-expression and confidence.”

“Children playing have the enthusiastic support of their parents,” the statement read in part. “Often when young people come out, they struggle with their identity, self-acceptance and self-expression. Dressing up in costume and playing builds that confidence, encourages individuality and ultimately counts, gives power.

In a letter to Boise Pride organizers, Idaho Department of Health and Wellness Director Dave Jeppesen said the department is withdrawing its sponsorship and withdrawing support for Project Filter and the Prevention and Prevention Program. of care for HIV and STDs and Hepatitis of Idaho.

Jeppesen cited “some confusion over whether (the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness) is approving specific event activities involving minors at this event,” saying the department’s decision was “d ‘avoid any confusion regarding (his) support for such activities…’

A department spokesperson could not immediately respond to questions from The Sun about whether Jeppesen read clarifying statements from Pride organizers or contacted organizers before withdrawing department support.

“The Director’s memo to the Event Director this afternoon was sent before we knew that the organizers removed this activity from the event’s lineup,” spokesman Greg Stahl said. “DHW is assessing the situation based on this new information.”

Boise Pride Festival facility
Boise Pride Festival organizers set up the main stage at Cecil D. Andrus Park in Boise Thursday night. (Christina Lords/Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho business lobbyist criticizes Moon’s support for convicted rapist

As Moon repeated his calls to boycott and oppose the event, Alex LaBeau, president of one of the state’s largest business lobby groups, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, said pointed out that Moon expressed support for convicted rapist and former Idaho legislator Aaron von Ehlingerand has yet to convict his former Republican colleague for raping a teenage legislative intern.

LaBeau said Moon didn’t have the “moral compass” to make a statement about the sexualization of children after he backed von Ehlinger.

“For Dorothy (Moon) to come out and have a say in this – it obviously comes from a woman who blamed a rape victim and said it was OK for lawmakers to sleep with an intern teenager,” LaBeau told The Sun.

During House Ethics and Policy Committee April 28 meeting in 2021, Moon was asked if she thought it would be appropriate for an elected official to have a sexual relationship with a 19-year-old unpaid intern.

“I’m saying if you’re a consenting adult, and they’re both consenting adults, I guess it’s nobody’s business,” Moon said at the time.

The victim in the von Ehlinger case, whom The Sun calls Jane Doe because she does not identify victims of sexual assault or rape, has repeatedly testified that she did not consent to sexual contact with von Ehlinger.

The IACI is one of Idaho’s largest business lobby groups and represents more than 300 employers, including some Boise Pride Festival sponsors.

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LaBeau said he wanted more information to be proactively shared about some of the events scheduled during the Boise Pride Festival. LaBeau said the Drag Kids event is designed for young people who are struggling with their identity and want a safe place to express their identity. LaBeau said each of the attendees has the support of their parents and the overall event is designed to provide a safe space and reduce teen suicide rates.

“I would like to see everyone take a deep breath, maybe, for Dorothy (Moon) to go and have a conversation with the people at Pride and talk about what the hate reduction event is all about,” said said LaBeau. “That’s exactly what all of Idaho’s businesses and all of our members want to do is be a welcoming state. But sitting there and fanning the flames like she is is not acceptable, and I challenge her to have this conversation.

Governor Brad Little did not respond to numerous requests for comment from The Sun on Thursday.

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