I’m excited to share some incredible news!
Wednesday night, in a unanimous vote, Ada County Commissioners voted to pass a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) that protects the rights and lives of LGBTQ+ people throughout the unincorporated areas of the county. This means that, beginning in March, it will be illegal for any person living in those areas to be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing, and public accommodations, mirroring protections offered by ordinances adopted by the Ada County cities of Boise and Meridian.
While Ada County’s ordinance does not supersede the jurisdictions of other municipalities in the county that do not have similar protections, its adoption is welcome news and truly a bright spot in what is turning into a dismal legislative session.
Just in the past week, no fewer than 3 anti-trans bills were officially introduced in Idaho, including HB 465 that would make it a felony for medical practitioners to provide any form of gender-affirming health care to transgender youth. All 3 of these cruel and potentially disastrous bills seek to strip trans and gender diverse Idahoans of their rights and their ability to be their whole selves in their home state.
In my work with Pride Foundation over the past decade, however, I’ve learned just how essential it is to pause and celebrate our wins in this continued fight for justice and equity for our communities.
I was honored to testify in support of the NDO on Wednesday night, and proud to share a few of my own experiences with the commissioners.
As someone who has lived in southwest Idaho for nearly 40 years, I shared that, for me personally, living as an openly gay man in Idaho hasn’t always been easy. Over the years, I’ve at times been afraid of being fired from my jobs prior to working for Pride Foundation, afraid of being kicked out of my home if my landlord found out I was gay, even afraid for my very safety if I do something as simple as hold my husband’s hand in public.
I know I’m not alone in those fears. Every year I read scholarship applications from LGBTQ+ youth in Idaho, many of whom are fearful and uncertain about their futures because of a world out there that often won’t accept them for who they are.
Non-discrimination ordinances like this one are not only the right thing to do, but are necessary—and on Wednesday night, Ada County Commissioners affirmed this truth.
Today, I’m so proud to call myself a resident of Ada County. And I look forward to working alongside you—our fearless and committed Idaho community—to fight back against the hate and vitriol that is currently moving through our legislature.
Steve Martin is Regional Philanthropy Officer in Idaho.