A bit more on an Idaho Legislature culture clash, which was reported Wednesday by the Statesman's Sean Cockerham in a profile of Boise Democratic Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who is retiring from the Senate to run for 2nd District Congress.
Cockerham was unable to reach House Education Committee Chairman Bob Nonini, who LeFavour said was the lone lawmaker among 60 who received a DVD of "Brokeback Mountain" as a Christmas gift and expressed his disfavor. LeFavour intended the gift as an icebreaker that might help convince lawmakers to finally expand the Idaho Human Rights Act to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
I caught up with Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, this morning after his committee passed a compromise on teacher pay that's one of the few puzzle pieces left before lawmakers can adjourn for the year.
Nonini explained why he took offense and how he returned the disc to LeFavour when the Legislature convened in January.
On Christmas Eve, Nonini and his wife, Cathyanne, took their traditional Christmas Eve trip to celebrate Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Spokane, followed by a nice dinner and a driving Christmas lights tour.
"We drove home to Coeur d'Alene and in the mailbox was this copy of 'Brokeback Mountain,'" Nonini said. "Just the timing of receiving it after Christmas Mass was offensive to both my wife and I. We opened it and my wife just immediately resealed it and asked me if I'd just deliver it back to Nicole.
"When we met down here in January I said to her, 'I've got your copy back, but my wife and I were offended that you sent it to us. It's just our religion and our thoughts and our feelings.'
"Maybe had it not been received on Christmas Eve right after we'd come home from Mass we wouldn't have felt so offended. You know how timing is, good and bad? I guess it was just bad timing."
Nonini said he and wife did not ever see the film, which sympathetically depicts a closeted homosexual relationship between two men, though he was familiar with the theme.
LeFavour enclosed a guide noting potentially offensive passages, in case viewers wished to skip those parts. "We were not even interested," Nonini said.