Saturday, February 22, 2014

Arizona 'Religious Discrimination' Bill Could Hurt Economy, Business Leaders Say

Posted By on Sat, Feb 22, 2014 at 10:40 AM

An Arizona bill awaiting the governor's signature to become law that would insulate from legal challenges businesses that refuse goods or services to patrons on account of religious beliefs would harm the economy by exposing that state's businesses to legal challenges, a group of Arizona business leaders said.

In the wake of the passage of HB 1062/SB 2153, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council drafted a letter to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer Friday encouraging her to veto the bill. 

"The legislation places businesses currently in Arizona, as well as those looking to locate here, in potentially damaging risk of litigation, and costly, needless legal disputes," the letter said. 

The letter's authors—Alliance Bank of Arizona CEO James Lundy and Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome—further argued that the law would "upset the current balance between the right of owners to manage their businesses, and the right of employees to refuse on religious grounds to follow company policy or management directions."

According to the letter, the law would further tarnish Arizona's image. In 2015, the state will host Super Bowl XLIX—an event that business interests say doesn't need the pall of negative publicity. The group also said it has been approached by four businesses that would locate elsewhere if the legislation is signed.

Earlier this month, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter rejected the notion that passing a similar bill would affect Idaho's business interests.  
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Anti-Discrimination Rally Set for Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

As written, the Idaho Human Rights Act does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. That's something a group of Idahoans is working to change, and they're rallying supporters to help them do so.

The Safe Schools and Fair Employment Rally will work to forward the cause of expanding legal protections against discrimination, as well as battling bullying in schools. Supporters are asked to gather on the steps of Idaho State Capitol at noon on Saturday, Jan. 29, to rally behind the effort.

"After I graduate college, I want to live in a place which guarantees me the freedom to live my personal life and be who I am without living in fear of being fired for talking about my partner in a work setting or putting a picture of my family on my desk," said Boise State student and rally organizer Lindsay Matson.

"The U.S. Department of Education has asked all states to create more effective anti-bullying laws, and a majority of Fortune 500 companies already include sexual orientation and gender identity in their employment policies—that is why we're doing this," she added.

The rally also seeks to bring more awareness of bullying within the school system. According to bullypolice.org, Idaho is graded at an A-, while other states—including Wyoming and New Hampshire—have A++ grades.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids feel overall unsafe in their school environment," Matson said. "Bullying is linked closely with suicide attempts, so creating laws which train teachers how to deal with harassment in the classroom, and which name categories of children which have been historically targeted, is vitally important to Idaho's children—our future."

"Legislators need to know that all Idahoans want to be part of a step toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens," Matson wrote in an e-mail to Citydesk. "We all deserve to feel safe where we work, learn and live."

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Helping Hands

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Hundreds circled Idaho’s Statehouse Monday as a show of strength and courage, marking the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act—the civil rights law which targets discrimination in the workplace.


Many participants took full advantage of handicap ramps around the Capitol, which only 20 years ago, were not required. Common amenities such as power-operated doors, curb cuts for sidewalks and accessible parking spaces are all end-results of the A.D.A.

Monday’s “Hands Around the Capitol” celebration was spearheaded by the Idaho Task Force on the A.D.A., and $7,000 was raised through donations from non-profits and private businesses.

Federal health and census data conservatively estimates that 15 percent of the population has a disability, therefore it’s estimated that more than 200,000 of Idaho’s citizens are disabled.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Idaho's Uniform LGBT Hate Crime Reporting, Not So Uniform

Posted By on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Idaho is not among 22 states reporting hate violence targeted toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program issued its annual report for 2009 last week.

Accurately quantifying anti-LGBT hate crime in Idaho is difficult in part because of a disconnect between federal, state and local reporting criteria. Additionally, LGBT people are less likely to report hate crime for fear of being outed or retribution, especially in conservative and rural areas. Human rights activists say there are also concerns about police harassment or indifference.

“Brutal attacks against actual or perceived LGBT people are hate crimes,” said activist Emilie Jackson-Edney. “But in the eyes of Idaho law, they're just another assault or battery.”

Boise Police Department’s Victim Witness Coordinator, Janet Lawler told Citydesk that, “Boise police have a real proactive malicious harassment policy which is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

However, Lawler explained that while a misdemeanor battery that includes a racial slur would be elevated to a felony, the same is not true if a sexual orientation or gender identity slur is used.

Pennie Blamires of the Idaho State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit told Citydesk there are 107 Idaho law enforcement agencies that report data to her unit. Her division documents crime and submits it to the FBI. But the ISP report doesn’t record gender identity.

Lawler said in Boise,“maybe three to four cases were investigated over the last year because of sexual orientation.”

In a Law and Order edition of Catch 22, the federal government is required to track crime data on sexual orientation and gender Identity from the states, but they do not require states to track it.

Ironically, the front page of the 2009 Idaho Uniform Crime report motto reads: “You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure.”

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Idaho To West Virginia, With Hate

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 4:16 PM

The small town of Falling Waters, West Virginia, is talking about flyers from white supremacists who say Idaho is their home-base.

The flyers contain the address of the Aryan Nations national headquarters in Athol, Idaho. The pamphlets, found attached to small orange bags filled with gravel, started appearing yesterday morning in the small town near the Maryland state line.

The flyers also reference the Maryland chapter of the Aryan Nations. The Journal newspaper of Martinsburg, WV, reported that a local woman called a representative of the Aryan Nations' Maryland chapter and was told there were more than 200 people from the Aryan Nations distributing flyers in the area Monday night. The Journal published photos of the flyers in today's edition.

Aryan Nation Flyer Discovered in WV
  • The Journal, Martinsburg, WV
  • Aryan Nation Flyer Discovered in WV

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Nampa Rec Center denies family pass to lesbian couple

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 6:07 PM

A Lesbian couple from Nampa is challenging the city's policy of denying family recreation center memberships to same-sex couples.

"It's pretty obvious they're discriminating,” Rachel Dovel said about the Nampa Recreation Center's refusal to sell a family pass to her partner and their son.

Dovel and her partner, Amber Howard, wanted to get a family membership pass to the Nampa Recreation Center for themselves and Howard's 4-year-old son, Logan Henderson. According to Dovel, the Rec Center staff at first told them that they could get a family pass if they had legal documentation proving they were domestic partners—documentation that Dovel and Howard have because Dovel carries Howard on her insurance plan.

But when Howard returned to the Rec Center with the papers, the Rec Center denied them a family pass because Dovel and Howard aren't married under Idaho law.

We are a family even if we can't get married,” Dovel said. “The Rec Center is standing behind those laws as a cop-out.”

The family pass policy, which states that "the primary member and spouse must be legally married," didn't add up to Dovel. The Nampa Rec Center gives family passes to single parents. Moreover, Dovel and Howard checked with Howard's sister and brother-in-law, only to find out they hadn't been required to show their marriage license to get a family pass.

Nampa Mayor Tom Dale defended the city-owned Rec Center's policies, saying that they aren't designed just to exclude gays and lesbians. They also exclude roommates and unmarried couples who live together, he said. Rec Center staff have turned away unmarried heterosexual couples who wanted a family pass, he said. When the staff comes across a family pass application with different last names, it raises a red flag, he said.

The Rec Center's policies have nothing to do with sexual orientation, Dale said, but he said the center gives out passes only to families as defined under Idaho law—laws written to exclude homosexual couples from getting married in Idaho, adopting children together, or being recognized as a married couple if they were married in another state or country.

Marriage rights aside, Nampa's policy discriminates against gay couples by charging them more for identical services: Individual passes for three at the Rec Center would cost $400 a year more than the family pass, Dovel said.

Fortunately, the Caldwell YMCA allowed them to buy a family pass, which is good at YMCAs across the Treasure Valley. Although the costs are slightly higher than the Rec Center's family membership prices and they would have a longer commute, Dovel is grateful that the YMCA recognizes her family.

Other gyms, including the Idaho Athletic Club and Anytime Fitness, have also told Dovel they offer family memberships to gay and lesbian couples.

Dovel and Howard could still have gotten a family pass for Howard and her son in a single-parent family arrangement, while Dovel bought an individual pass, Dale said.

The Rec Center's family pass prices are so low they have to draw the line defining family somewhere, Dale said. “We have to protect the integrity of our funding structure,” he said. Otherwise, he said, “Any two people who happen to be roommates and say, 'Hey, we're family, give us a discount'—we would suffer financially.”

The Rec Center is funded strictly by membership dues, not tax dollars, he said.

Dovel said she plans to fight the Rec Center's policies. She and the editor of PrideDepot.com and members of other LGBT groups plan to rally and protest in front of the Rec Center.

We want to make this as big as possible because LGBT issues that are going on here aren't as out in in the open as in other places,” she said. “We don't want to get it changed just for us. We want to get it changed for everyone.”

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