The Blue Review: Oases of Welcome

In an exclusive interview for The Blue Review, I had the great honor to sit down with gay icon and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson. We talked about marriage equality, religious freedom, Add the Words and more.

Blue Review, Boise State University, BSU

Oases of Welcome

Openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson visits Boise

gene-robinson-660x300“Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, was the keynote speaker at the Pacific Northwest regional conference for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Boise Oct. 4 at the Riverside hotel. About 130 PFLAG members from nine Northwest states attended. Some events were open to the community like the healing and reconciliation service on Sunday, officiated by Bishop Robinson — especially for LGBT people who have been hurt and rejected by their faiths.”

Read the entire interview HERE on The Blue Review

Melaleuca Call-Centers Staffed Minors in Anti-Obama Effort

AFP Melaleuca HS Flyer

Romney National Finance Co-Chair and Melaleuca CEO, Frank VanderSloot is using his resources for the promotion for partisan political flyers* circulated in at least four Eastern Idaho public high schools late October.

The American’s for Prosperity branded flyers were specifically targeting teens at $10 an hour to staff Melaleuca’s Idaho Falls and Rexburg call centers to make political phone calls to swing state voters with an anti-Obama message under the guise of a survey.

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Boise Federal Court Building Arrest Not So Black and White

Lee Arthur Rice II Mug Shot Boise Police

Lee Arthur Rice II (Photo: Boise Police Dept.)

Lee Arthur Rice II, a 58-year-old African American man, claims he is a victim of police brutality during his arrest in front of the Boise Federal Court Building on Wednesday May 4.

Rice first got the attention of As I See It during a Sept. 2010 Constitution Day event at the Idaho Statehouse. Rice was there handing out flyers advertising his portrait of President Barack Obama, which included swastikas reflected in the president’s eyes.

Reporter Eric Fink with local Channel 6 KIVI reported on Rice’s arrest saying, “Rice entered the parking lot of the federal building and his vehicle was pulled over by police. According to Rice, he was then asked for ID which he showed the officer. But that State ID is not a valid driver’s license. Moments later Rice says he was asked by police to get out of the vehicle. Feeling threatened Rice stayed in his car. And that’s when according to Rice, a police officer started violently pounding on the door.”

Fink reported police were beating on the window of Rice’s car so hard Rice finally unlocked the door. Rice said, “That’s when they pulled me out a started beating me.”

Department of Homeland Security Public Affairs spokesperson Chris Ortman told AISI, “Federal Protective Service (FPS) Inspectors stopped an individual when he attempted to enter the James A. McClure Federal Building in Boise, Idaho, while driving a vehicle without a drivers’ license. The individual became disruptive and combative, and then fled in his vehicle. When stopped, the individual refused to comply with orders to exit the vehicle and was subdued, arrested and charged with driving without a license, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest.”

“[Rice] was, in fact, in possession of a state of Idaho identification card when he drove onto the grounds of the Federal building in Boise contrary to a statement previously provided to the media by FPS.”

“Because Rice was operating a motor vehicle, he was asked for his drivers’ license, which he refused to provide,” said Ortman. “FPS later determined his drivers’ license was in a suspended status. Had the individual not been driving, the state issued identification card would have been acceptable for entry into the facility.”

KIVI reported conflicts between Homeland Security’s statement and the Boise police report. BPD spokesperson, Lynn Hightower told AISI, “The information that I have in the in the report matches Homeland Security’s. I don’t know where Channel 6 got their information, they did not get it from the PIO office.”

Hightower said Boise Police did not make the arrest. BPD simply transported Rice to the jail and cited him for driving without a license.

KIVI’s Tina Jensen reported that according to Rice’s fiancée, Harmony Black, Rice doesn’t carry a driver’s license because he is a constitutionalists and political activist.”

During a July 2010 traffic stop for a moving violation Rice received a citation that included failure to provide proof of car insurance. Having not obtained insurance since that citation in Dec 2010 the court suspended Rice’s driver’s license.

Lee Arthur Rice II Barack Obama Swastikas Nazi

Rice at the Idaho Statehouse on Constitution Day (Sept. 19, 2010).The portrait of President Obama leaning up against an eight foot replica of the United States Constitution. The “One Sovereign’s story” flyers Rice handed out explaining his art, said he began the drawing in 2007, that he voted for Obama and God led him to a sovereign group. Rice was in federal prison in 2007 and could not have voted. Idaho state law does not consider restoring voting rights to felons while they are still on probation. (Photos: ©2010

Rice refers to himself as “a Sovereign.” The sovereign citizen movement in America has been on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center for some time and reported extensively on the movement in their Fall 2010 Intelligence Report.

J.J. MacNab wrote in, ‘Sovereign’ Citizen Kane,

“The sprawling subculture of ‘sovereign citizens’ in America: hundreds of thousands of far-right extremists who believe that they – not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials – get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and who don’t think they should have to pay taxes.”

“Originally, the sovereign citizens movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites … many self-identified sovereigns today are black and apparently completely unaware of the racist origins of their ideology.”

“Some start by testing sovereign ideology with small offenses such as driving without a license.”

The security policies at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Boise had already been in place during the time Rice had to enter the building under the terms of his three-year probation. Rice was released from federal prison in August 2008, after serving five years of a seven-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and maintaining a place for the purpose of distribution and/or use of control substances. Court records describe those controlled substances as Ecstasy and LSD.

Rice could have entered the federal courthouse using his Idaho State ID card had he walked onto the property. According to law enforcement officials, Rice’s decision to drive without a valid state issued driver’s license and his reaction to officer’s requests to produce one is what prompted police to arrest him.

After being released from Ada County Jail on a $1,000 bond, Rice posted on his Facebook page that he had been, “Maliciously assaulted by Homeland Security” and was “unlawfully” arrested and jailed. “This type of action needs to stop and I plan on doing all I can to bring this to the light of truth,” wrote Rice. He is now soliciting money order donations for his legal defense fund using a storefront mailbox address and organizing a gathering at the Boise federal building on the morning of May 16 at the Appeals Court.

Rice’s pretrial conference is slated for June 20 and trial set for July 14.

Obama Signs DADT Repeal, Idaho Professor: “It Lights a Path for Equality.”

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on Dec. 22, 2010

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 will go down in history as a pivotal and unprecedented milestone in the struggle for equality for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

“This is a very good day,” said President Obama, in a moving 20 minute speech before he signed into law the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” that for 17 years discriminated against gay members of the United States Military.

President Obama Signing DADT Repal into Law

Speaking directly to gay service members, Obama acknowledged a “particular kind of sacrifice” requiring them to, “carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation and all the while you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you.” Continue reading