- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Capitol won’t be bathed in rainbow hues like other public buildings across the county, officials say, unless gay pride organizers bring their own lights.

Boise Pridefest culminates this weekend with a festival in the park in front of the Capitol, but state officials denied organizers’ request for rainbow lighting, The Idaho Statesman (https://bit.ly/23auIWq ) reported. Department of Administration Director Bob Geddes said the building’s lighting system is not technologically capable of displaying multi-colored lights. The LED lights that bathe its facade can be set to different colors, such as red or blue, explained Geddes, but not be red, white and blue all at once.

“As sympathetic as we want to be on this issue, there’s no way for us to make the Capitol look like a rainbow,” he said.

But leaders of the LGBT event suspect political concerns also played into the decision to deny the rainbow lighting request.

“Other Capitols all over the country are lit up,” said Rodney Busbee, director of the Pridefest. “It just seems like the right thing.”

He said no one mentioned the technical difficulties prior to Tuesday, even though organizers first asked about the lights a month ago.

Boise Democrat Rep. Melissa Wintrow said she advocated for the rainbow lighting but believes the request was initially denied for political reasons.

She tried talking to Geddes again Monday, following the deadly shooting rampage at an Orlando nightclub frequented by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. She told the Statesman Tuesday that Geddes again “gave me the impression that the topic was too political.”

“If he’s saying it’s technical issues, he never shared that with me,” she said.

Wintrow sent Geddes an email seeking clarification and The Statesman was copied on the exchange.

“I did indicate to you that I did not want to make the lighting of the Capitol a political issue. I still believe that is an appropriate decision,” wrote Geddes.

He went on to say that he recently received many requests that the Capitol be illuminated in rainbow colors, so he “confirmed with my staff and as I responded to (the Statesman’s) questions, the lighting system does not provide the capability to illuminate the building with a rainbow effect.”

He said the building will remain lit up and Pridefest organizers can project their own rainbow lights on the facade. Busbee said that’s probably what they’ll do.

But he said the Capitol shouldn’t be so worried about making a political statement.

“It’s not saying that anyone in that house stands for the colors that are on the house,” he said. “It’s just saying that we care.”


Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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