This Former Lawmaker Hid in a Senate Chamber Closet for Five Hours

She was advocating for those who are out of the closet.

Former Idaho State Sen. Nicole LeFavour
National Journal
Emma Roller
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Emma Roller
March 21, 2014, 8:11 a.m.

Tak­ing a cue from Jay Leno, (or per­haps R. Kelly), a former Idaho law­maker de­cided to hide in a Sen­ate cham­ber closet for five to six hours on Tues­day, pre­sum­ably to eaves­drop on her col­leagues.

A rule in the Idaho Le­gis­lature al­lows floor priv­ileges for former state sen­at­ors. But the state Sen­ate voted 28-6 on Wed­nes­day to sus­pend that rule for one of their former col­leagues — Nicole Le­Fa­vour. The day be­fore, Le­Fa­vour — Idaho’s first openly gay state law­maker — had been dis­covered hid­ing in a closet be­hind the Sen­ate cham­ber and was asked to leave.

“Closets are nev­er safe for gay or trans­gender people,” she told the Spokes­man-Re­view.

Le­Fa­vour served in the state Sen­ate from 2008 to 2012 and was in the state House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives be­fore that. Since leav­ing of­fice, she has be­come act­ive in the Add the Words move­ment, a cam­paign to add the words “sexu­al ori­ent­a­tion” and “gender iden­tity” to the state’s Hu­man Rights Act. The cam­paign has been on­go­ing for eight years.

Al­though it’s un­clear why she de­cided to hide in the closet, a Sen­ate lead­er spec­u­lated that Le­Fa­vour wanted to eaves­drop on law­makers’ private con­ver­sa­tions. From the Idaho Spokes­man-Re­view:

“Ac­cord­ing to her, she had been hid­ing there for five to six hours,” Sen­ate Pres­id­ent Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told the Sen­ate. “I’ll not spec­u­late as to her motives, but from where she was hid­ing, she was able to eaves­drop on private dis­cus­sions and tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions in this room be­hind the cham­ber. She has demon­strated dis­reg­ard for the law, res­ult­ing in mul­tiple ar­rests this ses­sion. We can­not have any­one ab­us­ing their priv­ileges in the Sen­ate.”

After be­ing ex­pelled from her hid­ing place, Le­Fa­vour linked to a Spokes­man-Re­view story on her Face­book page and ad­ded, “I have no fur­ther com­ment.” But on Wed­nes­day, she gave a more lengthy re­sponse, say­ing she was happy the Sen­ate re­voked her floor priv­ileges:

Sen­at­or Hill, I sup­port the mo­tion. I am ashamed to be a mem­ber of a le­gis­lat­ive body that would for nine years not take a pub­lic vote or pub­lic testi­mony on a bill to end dis­crim­in­a­tion against gay and trans­gender people — but which will take the state’s time to vote pub­licly to deny me floor priv­ileges be­cause I walked in­to an open closet off a typ­ic­ally un­used sen­ate lounge and sat down. You prefer to fo­cus on any­thing but the dev­ast­at­ing stor­ies of loss, fear, vi­ol­ence and dis­crim­in­a­tion gay & trans­gender people still face in our state.

Le­Fa­vour has been ar­res­ted at least six times dur­ing Idaho’s most re­cent le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion for par­ti­cip­at­ing in Add the Words protests. In Feb­ru­ary, she was one of 44 people ar­res­ted and cited for tres­passing for block­ing the en­trances to the Idaho Sen­ate. Le­Fa­vour tweeted after be­ing ar­res­ted:

43 people si­lent all 3 Idaho Sen­ate doors. Not leav­ing un­til they pass a bill to fi­nally say cruelty to gay & trans­gender people is wrong.

— Nicole Le­Fa­vour (@nicolele­fa­vour) Feb­ru­ary 3, 2014

Le­Fa­vour has been sus­pen­ded from the Sen­ate cham­ber for the re­mainder of the le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion. But there’s al­ways next year!

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