BOISE – Shortly before the Idaho Senate adjourned for the evening Tuesday, the majority leader cautioned senators to secure their office areas before leaving, saying an individual was found hiding in a closet in the Senate lounge, directly behind the Senate chamber.
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 catchphrase for amending Idaho’s Human Rights Act to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the act’s anti-discrimination provisions. The change has been proposed every year for the past eight years but has never had a full committee hearing.
“Closets are never safe for gay or transgender people,” LeFavour told The Spokesman-Review.
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 Senate closet – used to store coats and other items – 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.”
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said the Senate was at ease when LeFavour was discovered late Tuesday afternoon by staffers looking for some items in the closet.
“I have no idea how long she was there,” Davis said.
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, asked LeFavour to leave.
“It seemed to me that there was some initial reluctance, but there was compliance,” Davis said.
Former senators are allowed in the Senate chambers, even during sessions. During an earlier demonstration, the Senate had to suspend the rule granting floor privileges to former members to remove LeFavour, who refused to leave.