An ordinance that would add nondiscrimination protections for gender identity and sexual orientation goes before Boise City Council members tonight in what’s slated to be the first of three hearings about the proposal.
The measure’s co-sponsor, Council Member Lauren McLean, said the ordinance would not only protect Boiseans from discrimination in housing, employment and services, but could make Boise a more appealing place for businesses thinking about setting up shop in the City of Trees.
“As an elected official, I'm focusing on building a vibrant downtown, further improving our neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces, and I'm going to do what I can to make sure all of Boise's citizens, visitors, and future citizens know they'll be treated with dignity and respect,” McLean said. “If we do all this, we'll have what it takes to attract the best businesses, jobs, and workers to Boise—and to ensure economic opportunity for all residents.”
A coalition of citizens have already vowed to back the measure and organized lobbyist training sessions to help get the proposal passed. Advocates that didn’t see lawmakers add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender discrimination” to state anti-discrimination laws in past legislative sessions are pushing Boise leaders to close the civil rights gap on a citywide level.
“This ordinance is about fairness in our great city. I am proud that the City of Boise, and other cities throughout Idaho, have taken the initiative to pass this important ordinance,” said civil rights advocate Lisa Perry.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter supports the measure that calls for education and mediation to remedy violations of the proposed code.
“Our system is based on the idea that everyone should have the same opportunity to succeed,” Mayor Bieter said in a written statement. “This ordinance is the right thing to do because it ensures that fundamental principle is alive and well in Boise. It also makes good business sense, because as we look to attract new jobs and businesses, we must demonstrate that Boise offers the same protections as other cities. In short, discrimination is bad for business and counter to our shared ideals.”
The council will hear the proposal at 6 p.m. in the WW02 Auditorium in the West Wing of the Idaho Statehouse. A second reading is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 27, at City Hall, and a third reading and final vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Statehouse.