LGBT rights in Idaho

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LGBT rights in Idaho
Idaho (US)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2003
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage and civil unions banned by the state constitution
Adoption Yes

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Idaho may face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Homosexual activity is legal in Idaho. Same-sex couples cannot marry in Idaho and same-sex couples married in other states are not recognized in Idaho.

Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas rendered laws banning consensual sexual activity unenforceable.[1]

As of 2013, the state's sodomy law, though unenforceable, had not been repealed by Idaho legislators.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Idaho voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2006 that "A marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."[2] Similar restrictions appear in the state statutes as well.[3]

Latta v. Otter[edit]

In November 2013, four Idaho lesbian couples filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Latta v. Otter, challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. They are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.[4] One couple was married in California in 2008, another in New York in 2011. Two of the four couples are raising a child.[5] It named as defendants Governor Butch Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich.[6] The parties are disputing Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's attempt to intervene on behalf of the state.[7] Both parties have asked the court for summary judgment, i.e. for the court to rule on the basis of the parties' briefs alone. A hearing on this matter is scheduled for May 5, 2014[8]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Idaho permits adoption by "any adult person". There are no explicit prohibitions on adoption by same-sex couples or on second-parent adoptions. On February 11, 2014, the Idaho Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling and held that an adoptive parent need not be married. It returned to the lower court the adoption petition of an Idaho woman who married another woman in California and sought to adopt her wife's 2 teenage sons.[9]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of Idaho counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

No provision of Idaho law explicitly addresses discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity.[10]

In February 2012, a bill that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jobs, housing, educational opportunities and public accommodations, was rejected.[11]

Starting with Sandpoint in December 2011, several cities passed their own ordinances banning LGBT discrimination.[12]

Hate crime laws[edit]

Idaho's hate crimes law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[13]


  1. ^ New York Times: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy," June 26, 2003, access April 14, 2011
  2. ^ CNN: 2006 Key Ballot Measures, accessed April 14, 2011; Idaho State Legislature: Article III, Section 28, accessed January 6, 2007
  3. ^ Human Resources Campaign: Idaho Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law, accessed April 14, 2011
  4. ^ "Four Idaho couples file federal lawsuit challenging state's gay marriage ban". LGBTQNation. November 8, 2013. 
  5. ^ Popkey, Dan (November 8, 2013). "Boise couples sue to overturn ban on same-sex marriage". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Idaho AG motions to dismiss same-sex marriage case". SF Gate. January 9, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Idaho's gay marriage ban: Couples ask judge to block state's intervention". The Oregonian. December 26, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ Boone, Rebecca (February 19, 2014). "Idaho Couples Ask Judge To Rule On Gay Marriage". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ Zuckerman, Laura (February 11, 2014). "Idaho's top court grants adoptive rights to spouse in gay marriage". Reuters. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  10. ^ Human Resources Campaign: Idaho Non-Discrimination Law, accessed April 14, 2011
  11. ^ "Idaho GOP refuses to ‘add the words’ to prohibit LGBT discrimination". LGBTQ Nation. February 12, 2012. 
  12. ^ "New laws not sitting well with Republicans, who hope to invalidate all such ordinances". LGBTQ Nation. June 14, 2013. 
  13. ^ Human Resources Campaign: Idaho Hate Crimes Law, accessed April 14, 2011