LGBT rights in Idaho

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LGBT rights in Idaho
Map of USA ID.svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Gender identity/expression State does not alter sex on birth certificates for transsexuals
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
Adoption Yes

Homosexual activity is legal in Idaho, and same-sex couples can marry 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As of 2014, the state's sodomy law, though unenforceable, had not been repealed by Idaho legislators.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 stating 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 had been incorporated in the state's statutes in the 1990s.[3] A ruling in the case of Latta v. Otter on May 13, 2014, found these prohibitions unconstitutional. Enforcement of the ruling in that case has been stayed while the case is appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[4]

On October 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court ruling that found the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples unconstitutional.[5] State officials failed to receive a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court while they pursued further appeals, and Idaho Governor Butch Otter announced the state would no longer attempt to preserve its denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples.[6] On October 15, 2014, approximately 100 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses at the Ada county clerk's offices.[7]

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.[8]

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,[9] a continuing omission which prompted the Add the Words, Idaho campaign of civil disobedience in 2014.[10]

The following Idaho cities have ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity: Boise,[11] Coeur d'Alene,[11] Driggs,[12] Idaho Falls,[13] Ketchum,[11] Lewiston,[14][15] Moscow,[11] Meridian,[16] Pocatello,[17] Sandpoint[11] and Victor.[18]

The city of Twin Falls[14] has an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.

On November 8, 1994, the voters of Idaho, by a 50.38% to 49.62% vote, rejected Initiative 1, an initiative that would have forbid state and local governments from granting minority status and rights based on homosexual behavior.[19]

On February 10, 2012, the Senate State Affairs Committee, by a 7-2 vote, killed a bill that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jobs, housing, educational opportunities and public accommodations.[20] In April 2014, a series of protests collectively known as Add the Words began which resulted in numerous arrests.[21]

On May 20, 2014, the voters of Pocatello, Idaho, by a 50.41% to 49.59% vote, rejected Proposition 1, an initiative that would have repealed the city's ordinance that prohibits discrimination with regard to housing, employment and public accommodations based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression.[22]

On January 15, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 6-1 to hold a hearing on a bill that adds language banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's Human Rights Act. It had been denied a hearing in each of the preceding nine years.[23] On January 29, the House State Affairs Committee voted 13-4 against the bill.[24]

Hate crime laws[edit]

Idaho's hate crimes law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[25]


  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. ^ Geidner, Chris (May 15, 2014). "No Friday Same-Sex Marriages In Idaho". BuzzFeed. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Sewell, Cynthia (October 10, 2014). "Otter says state should comply with gay-marriage order when it comes again". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ Kreusi, Kimberlee; Ridler, Keith (October 15, 2014). "Gay marriage arrives in conservative stronghold Idaho". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ Zuckerman, Laura (February 11, 2014). "Idaho's top court grants adoptive rights to spouse in gay marriage". Reuters. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  9. ^ Human Resources Campaign: Idaho Non-Discrimination Law, accessed April 14, 2011
  10. ^ /2014/02/03/3006687/add-the-words-protestors-blocking.html
  11. ^ a b c d e "Cities and Counties with Non-Discrimination Ordinances that Include Gender Identity". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ Driggs passes non-discrimination ordinance
  13. ^ Russell, Betsy (September 13, 2013). "Idaho Falls bans housing, employment discrimination against gays". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved September 18, 2013. Idaho Falls has become the seventh city in Idaho to enact a local ordinance barring discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  14. ^ a b Baeza, Benito (January 16, 2013). "Lewiston Adds Sexual Orientation to City Policy". KLIX. Associated Press. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Lewiston, Idaho Passes LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance". Towleroad. October 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Municipal Equality Index" (PDF). Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Pocatello Adopts Anti-discrimination Rule, Becoming 6th Idaho City to Protect GLBT People". Times-News. Associated Press. June 7, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  18. ^ Rural Border Town Becomes Idaho's 8th City To Approve Non-Discrimination Ordinance
  20. ^ "Idaho GOP refuses to 'add the words' to prohibit LGBT discrimination". LGBTQ Nation. February 12, 2012. 
  21. ^
  23. ^ Kruesi, Kimberlee (January 15, 2015). "In reversal, Idaho lawmakers introduce sex orientation and gender identity protection bill". Daily Journal (Idaho). Associated Press. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ "'Add the Words' bill dies in committee". KTVB. January 29, 2015. 
  25. ^ Human Resources Campaign: Idaho Hate Crimes Law, accessed April 14, 2011