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Pocatello nondiscrimination ordinance: Round two

By By Chris Cole
Published On: May 07 2013 11:26:43 PM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2013 11:43:10 PM CDT

Changes to the ordinance are few, but significant. The changes address two of the three major concerns faced by the first draft.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

It's round two for Pocatello's nondiscrimination ordinance.

A new draft of the ordinance was made available Monday.

Reporter Chris Cole gathered reactions the very next day by getting some feedback from the Pocatello community.

Changes to the ordinance are few, but significant. The changes address two of the three major concerns faced by the first draft.

One of the biggest hurdles for Pocatello's nondiscrimination ordinance in the first draft was religious freedom.

The new draft includes wording protecting religious freedom in accordance with the Idaho Free Exercise of Religion Act.

"I think the nondiscrimination ordinance should have passed,” said Andrew Olsen, an employee at Convergys. “I don't think discrimination in any form should actually be lawful. It just doesn't seem like it would be morally or ethically right."

It also addresses small business concerns. A business with five or fewer employees for their household can still refuse to hire an employee because of their sexual orientation.

"It affects everyone. Everyone has a gender identity,” said ISU student Jessica Milford, “everyone has a sexual orientation. Why wouldn't we want something put in place to protect us?"

The issue that still remains an issue is the bathroom issue, part of the definition listed under "Place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage or amusement."

Some opponents have said allowing a transgender person to use the bathroom if they are not fully transitioned would allow a person to enter a bathroom with other motives -- like peeping in stalls or even rape.

"I think it's important that all individuals have their rights protected,” said Kim Cox, an obstetrician gynecologist. “I actually appreciate Mayor Brian Blad for delaying the vote for a short period of time so that an attempt at community unity could be obtained."

Both drafts of the ordinance are available to the public digitally by clicking here, as well as in person at the Marshall Public Library.

Included with the first draft are letters for and against written by members of the community.

After I spoke with people on Tuesday, I realized, while there are people that are sure to still be against the ordinance, there are still some people who don't even know there was an ordinance in the first place, let alone that there is now a second draft.

The new draft will be discussed by the Pocatello City Council at their meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the City Council Chambers. 

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