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Testimonies heard for Pocatello non-discrimination ordinance

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Apr 05 2013 04:35:51 PM CDT

The vote was delayed pending further review and discussion of specifics in the ordinance

Pocatello, Idaho -

A City Council meeting was held in Pocatello Thursday night, and the non- discrimination ordinance was on the agenda.

Many people attended to show their support and make their opinions known.

The city's legal department made updates to the ordinance, helping ease the minds of those with concerns about the "bathroom" portion of the ordinance. With the current revisions, more specific terms are used.

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad says it is important for everyone with differing opinions to respect their fellow community members.

"It's tough issue," Mayor Blad said Thursday before the council meeting. "It's an emotional issue for people, and we need to be very sensitive. The council needs to be sensitive to that and other people on both sides of the line need to be sensitive to the issues at hand." 

The meeting was packed with people both for and against the ordinance, though the majority of people were for it.

The process started last May, when a resolution was denied by the City Council because it wanted to go with something stronger - an ordinance.

Boise, Sandpoint and Moscow have already passed similar ordinances, but others, like Idaho Falls and Twin Falls are still discussing, just like Pocatello.

Many people have been calling into question all the definitions in the ordinance, like "perceived sexual identity or orientation," "facilities" and other key phrases.

However, many in attendance also said it's a good sign that this is being taken so seriously.

One woman, a substitute teacher for school district 25, knows all too well what this ordinance can mean for her. The school district has adopted a policy that protects her against discrimination of her gender.

"It's part of that non- discrimination policy that has allowed them to be supportive of me," said Grae Brennan, who has received numerous complaints from parents about dressing as a woman while teaching several classes. "I think that's very relevant to what we're facing today with the city and their non-discrimination ordinance."

A point that came up Thursday evening numerous times was simply how this is a personal matter, just like religion or race, and as such should have no effect on your employment or living situation.

Some concerns raised by those opposed included having to defend themselves if an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered) person were to claim they were either hired, fired or evicted because they are part of the LGBT community.

However, many for the ordinance said there shouldn't be a problem if a business owner or landlord either hired, fired or evicted an LGBT person for another reason, like violation of a lease, past-due rent or, in a job setting, failing to perform the tasks in which you were hired to perform.

Many people's personal stories also reflected how this ordinance affects more than just those it is for.

We will continue to bring you updates as they come. 

If you are interested in sharing a story on this issue, please contact Chris Cole at chris.cole@localnews8.com.

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