Idaho State Senate Orders Arrest Of Openly Gay Former Senator

Over the last year, states have been legalizing same-sex marriage at what seems like a breakneck pace. Some states, like Virginia, haven’t legalized it yet but are on the way to doing so, while others, like Wisconsin and Utah, have gay marriage bans that are currently being challenged in court. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the advancement of marriage rights hasn’t been uniform across the country. What happened in Idaho on Monday is Exhibit A.

For years, there’s been a push to get the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” added to the state’s Human Rights Act. Democrats have introduced bills to that effect for the last eight legislative sessions, but it’s never once received a full committee hearing. Several municipalities have adopted local ordinances adding those protections, prompting the Idaho Republican Party Central Committee to demand that the legislature invalidate those ordinances, because state’s rights!

So, on Monday, over 40 protesters swarmed the statehouse, many donning “Add The Words” t-shirts, and demanded that the body act to protect LGBT Idahoans from discrimination. The legislature responded by calling the state police, which came in and arrested everyone for obstructing the entrances to the Senate chamber.

But one protester remained: Nicole LeFavour, herself a former state Senator. Because Senate rules allow former members to remain in the chamber while it’s in session, LeFavour, who is openly gay, assumed she was in the clear while she stood in the Senate doorway, listening to the proceedings.

How did Senate Republicans respond? By changing Senate rules on-the-fly to revoke that special permission granted to former legislators. As soon as Senate leader Bart Davis did this, LeFavour was in violation of Senate rules, and state police quickly arrested her and escorted her out.

America has come a long way on gay rights. It still has a long way to go.