A third and final reading of a proposed citywide ordinance in Boise prohibiting discriminatory acts in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression will take place on Tuesday December 4 at the Boise City Council meeting. If passed, the ordinance would go into effect on January 1, 2013, making Boise the second city in Idaho after Sandpoint to adopt such an ordinance.
The meeting will begin at 6:00 PM in the Idaho State Capitol Building’s west wing. No public testimony will be heard, but the council will continue to take written testimony until the official ordinance vote at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearly 400 people turned out to hear the council’s first reading of the ordinance on November 13 with several offering testimony in support, including Pride Foundation Idaho volunteer and board member Emilie Jackson-Edney who also co-chairs Add the Words Idaho, a statewide grassroots effort to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act.
Emilie told the council about her gender transition from a man to a woman during her final year of employment at a local highway agency in Boise before retiring in 2005 after 37 years. Her employer looked beyond her gender identity and did not fire her, but she was always fearful of the possibility.
“There were no employment non-discrimination protections for me in company policy or codified on a statewide level,” Emilie said while testifying at the hearing. “If I had been fired, there was no avenue of recourse for me to follow. What you are doing now is a logical progression to extend those protections through the ordinance process to encompass the entire city – because it’s the right thing to do.”
Work on the proposed ordinance has been ongoing for several months, strongly supported by two Boise city councilwomen, Maryanne Jordan and Lauren McLean, following the passage of Sandpoint’s citywide LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance in December 2011. A second reading of the Boise ordinance was heard November 27.
“It’s our job to make Boise an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family,” McLean said. “We believe citizens expect us to make it clear that discrimination is not OK, because in Boise we treat everyone with dignity and respect – no matter who they are or whom they love.”
Read more about the November 13 hearing and the council and mayor’s comments during the meeting here.
Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve.