Sandpoint Adds LGBTQIA Protections to City’s Anti-discrimination Law

The residents of Sandpoint didn’t wait for a statewide amendment to help stop discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,  queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual individuals.

On December 23rd, the city council added by adding sexual orientation and gender expression to enhance anti-discrimination laws already in place. According to the Bonner County Daily Bee, “Idaho legislation already protects citizens from discrimination against age, disability, race, color, national origin, religion and sex. The ordinance enhances state law by adding sexual orientation and gender expression to those protected classes. A human relations review board of at least three mayor-appointed individuals will review discrimination complaints regarding employment, housing or public accommodation and discard frivolous matters.”

“Appropriately titled “Discrimination Prohibited,” the ordinance “reaffirms our stance against discrimination,” said John Reuter, who has served on the Sandpoint City Council since June 2008 and is currently council president. “We believe that if we have the ability to make a stand in our small town, we have an obligation to do so,” reports the Pride Foundation’s Steve Martin in an email.

This isn’t the first time the northern Idaho town has led the rest of the state on human rights issues. According to the Bee,”Reuter first proposed the ordinance to maintain Sandpoint’s history of proactivity in human rights issues, a background evidenced by the adoption of Martin Luther King Jr. Day before the rest of the state.”

According to Martin, “The ordinance states in part that “in order to ensure that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing, commercial property and the use of public accommodations, it is necessary that appropriate legislation be enacted.”  Reuter said Sandpoint modeled its ordinance after citywide non-discrimination ordinances passed in Salt Lake City, Utah and Missoula, Montana.”

There is a move underway to pass a similar ordinance statewide. You can learn more by visiting www.addthewords.org.

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