Shortly before the Senate adjourned tonight, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, cautioned senators to secure their office areas before leaving, saying an individual was found hiding in a closet in the Senate lounge, which is the room directly behind the Senate chamber, where there are a few couches and some snacks and cookies are laid out.
It turned out the individual was former Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, who has been arrested a half-dozen times this session in protests at the state Capitol pressing to “Add the Words,” the catch-phrase for amending Idaho’s Human Rights Act to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the act’s anti-discrimination provisions. “Closets are never safe for gay or transgender people,” LeFavour told Eye on Boise, acknowledging that it was her. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
LeFavour, who was Idaho’s first openly gay state lawmaker and served four terms before leaving the Senate to run for Congress in 2012, said she had been in the closet for between five and six hours. “It’s a very large closet,” she said. “There are lots of people in closets out there, and they’re not comfortable.” Instead, she said, they’re “scary.”
Davis said the Senate was at ease when LeFavour was discovered, while staffers were looking for some items in the closet that belong to the Senate’s secretary. “I have no idea how long she was there,” he said. “She was asked to leave.” Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, was the one who asked LeFavour to leave. “It seemed to me that there was some initial reluctance, but there was compliance,” Davis said.
LeFavour, who has led “Add the Words” demonstrations throughout the legislative session in which people stand with their hands over their mouths, signifying that they haven’t been heard – because the change to the law hasn’t gotten a hearing – said, “The lives of gay and transgender people do matter to thousands of us, and every time one of us is standing hand over mouth somewhere, it is a message of love to somebody else who is scared, somewhere in Idaho.”