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Idaho Capital Mulls Protection For Gays, Lesbians

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BOISE, Idaho (AP)—Boise could become the second Idaho city to pass an ordinance banning discrimination against people because of their sexual identities.

A pair of city councilwomen will propose the new ordinance at a meeting on Tuesday, The Idaho Statesman reported.

The tiny resort town of Sandpoint in northern Idaho has passed a similar ordinance. But statewide efforts have been met with resistance.

During the 2012 Legislature, Republican lawmakers once again balked at even holding a hearing considering a bill to add discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

In Boise, council women Maryanne Jordan and Lauren McLean say such protections become an important recruitment tool for businesses looking for qualified workers. Their proposal includes job, housing and other protections.

“When you drill down to the very core mission of any city, it’s public safety,” Jordan said.

Prospective employers considering a move to Boise might decide against Idaho’s capital if they didn’t feel their employees enjoyed the same protections from discrimination as everyone else, Jordan said.

Idaho law now forbids workplace and housing discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin and mental or physical disabilities.

Boise spokesman Adam Park said a recent survey commissioned by the city found that 86 percent of Ada County voters believe that firing someone for reasons involving sexuality or gender identity also should be illegal.

Boise likely won’t be the last city to consider the matter.

Leaders in Pocatello, home of Idaho State University, are drafting a similar policy. And in southwestern Idaho, the city of Caldwell has added language to guard against discriminating against gays and lesbians applying for city jobs.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho said many major corporations and national companies doing business in the state already have nondiscrimination policies for their own workforces. Those firms include Micron Technology, Albertsons, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines and Starbucks.

 

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