Community forum discusses I.F. anti-discrimination ordinance

Community forum discusses I.F. anti-discrimination ordinance

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - As the Idaho Falls city council edges toward hearings for a possible sexual orientation anti-discrimination ordinance, several advocacy groups held a public forum to discuss the implications of a new law.

Folks who attended the forum at the Idaho State University /University of Idaho's Bennion Student Union Building were introduced to a preliminary draft of the possible Idaho Falls anti-discrimination ordinance --- though it is an unofficial draft at this point.

The draft shows discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by a landlord or an employer would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The expert panel sponsored by Idaho Falls based Breaking Boundaries and the eastern Idaho Parents and Family of Gays and Lesbians included human resource department managers from Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and Battelle Energy. Both of those companies already have anti discrimination clauses which include sexual orientation.

A Methodist minister, a mental health counselor and an openly gay attorney also sat on the panel.

The term organizers wanted to stress was "sexual orientation." Organizer Dan Henry said everyone has a sexual orientation, so the ordinance will protect everyone from discrimination.

"There is no protected class being created here," said Henry. "It pertains to all people and all sexual orientations."

Idaho Falls city council members Tom Halley and Ida Hardcastle were both at the meeting taking notes on the discussion. So was state representative Jeff Thompson (R-Idaho Falls).

There is no hearing scheduled for the possible ordinance.

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