Former state senator hides in Statehouse closet

BOISE, Idaho — Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour hid in an Idaho Statehouse closet for more than five hours as part of her effort to persuade Republican lawmakers to update the Idaho Human Rights Act.

LeFavour, a Boise Democrat, was discovered late Tuesday afternoon in a closet in the Senate lounge behind the Senate chamber.

“Closets are never safe for gay or transgender people,” she told The Spokesman-Review. “It’s a very large closet. There are lots of people in closets out there, and they’re not comfortable.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said he asked her to leave.

“It seemed to me that there was some initial reluctance, but there was compliance,” Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said.

During a demonstration earlier this year, the rule that allows former Senators in the Senate chambers was suspended to remove LeFavour, who stood in the chamber and refused to leave.

LeFavour, Idaho’s first openly gay lawmaker, has long sought protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals and has been at the forefront of protests this year. More than 140 arrests have been made.

The “Add the Words” arrests have come after demonstrators stand silently with their hands over their mouths to symbolically represent their voices not being heard.

LeFavour’s hiding in the closet appeared to also have similar symbolic meaning.

“The lives of gay and transgender people do matter to thousands of us,” she said, “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.”

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has also all but closed the door to action on a bill to update the state’s Human Rights Act, which currently provides protections against discrimination on the basis of race, gender and religion — but not sexual orientation.

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