LGBT Meeting with Boise officials Draws Good Crowd

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Approximately sixty members of Boise’s LGBT community, friends and supporters gathered at The Community Center in Garden City Wednesday evening to meet the Boise Police Department’s new LGBT liaison and to learn more about the city’s newly enacted anti-discrimination ordinance.

Liaison officer Katie Davey told the crowd she is looking forward to not only working with Boise’s LGBT community but is also networking with other Idaho law enforcement agencies to help them create similar positions in other cities.

BPD created its liaison position approximately six years ago after seeing a rise in hate crime incidents. Davey, who also works as a victim witness coordinator, took over the position about six months ago from long time  community liaison, Janet Lawler.

In a statement to the Idaho Agenda, Davies said the position is another way the Police Department is working to keep every one of its citizens safe, “As a Victim Witness Coordinator and LGBT Liaison for the Boise Police Department, I am excited to take this opportunity to help facilitate communication between the LGBT community and the Boise Police Department.   The Boise Police Department has worked for many years with numerous community groups, to foster pro-active communication and partnerships, with the goal of keeping Boise the ‘ Most Livable City in The Country’.

During an almost hour long panel discussion which was emceed by Boise’s very own blond bombshell, Minerva Jayne, City Council President Maryanne Jordan, Davey and Deputy Police Chief Pete Ritter also took questions regarding the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

The ordinance, which went into affect on New Years Day,  prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of employment, housing and public accommodation.

Many of the audience’s questions had to do with the ordinance’s exemption of religious institutions.  Jordon told the crowd that the measure is very specific on what constitutes a “religious institution.” She explained that the clause does not give the typical landlord or business owner the right to discriminate, “just because of their own personal beliefs”.

Though violation of the ordinance carries a fine of up to $1,000, jail time up to six months, or both, Ritter explained that the city is betting most complaints won’t get that far.

Once attorneys have determined that a violation has occurred, the city will use a mediation process in hopes that the parties involved can reach some sort of amicable agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached, that’s when a criminal penalty will be imposed. Both Jordan and Ritter are confident that most cases will be settled during the mediation stage.

Lion’s Pride Director Donna Harwood, who organized the event, says she feels the meeting was successful. “I feel there’s going to be a real change,the community feels very excited and grateful to the City of Boise for giving us a voice”, Harwood told KTVB-TV during an interview on Wednesday.

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The event was sponsored by the Boise Police Department, Bureau of Community & Environmental Health at Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, The Idaho Agenda, The Community Center and 3 Girls Catering.

LGBTQ liaison officer, Katie Davey, can be reached at 208-570-6224 or kdavey@cityofboise.org. Those who feel they have been a victim of discrimination or have witnessed a violation of the ordinance can call the Boise Police Department  at 208- 570-6000.

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