Pocatello rallies for Non-Discrimination Ordinance

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Photo courtesy of Josh Rahl

The passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Pocatello maybe still to close to call, but  that doesn’t mean its supporters are just  sitting around waiting for a final vote.

City council members heard from dozens of supporters of the ordinance last week during a public testimony meeting.  According to the Chair of the Human Relations Advisory Committee for the city of Pocatello and a key supporting figure of the law, Susie Matsuura, approximately 200 residents turned out last Thursday to hear testimony and speak in favor of the ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations.

“Just the numbers of people who turned out last night took my breath away, and their impassioned testimony – oh my. I can’t think of the words to praise them for their bravery and passion in coming forward to share a very personal part of their lives,” said Matsuura in a press release.

Matsuura said she “urges all to thank the Pocatello City Council and Mayor for the opportunity to speak out on this important issue. The city leaders took the time to really hear the voices and see the “beating hearts” of some of their most vulnerable constituents.”

During the meeting State Senator Roy Lacey, D-District 29, spoke in favor of the ordinance, telling the council members he believed the measure would benefit the community as a whole.

Former city council woman and state representative, Donna Boe, also spoke. She said she empathized with the council as they deliberate their decision, but she encouraged them to view the measure favorably.

The meeting was filled with several emotional moments. Despite the fact that  they could lose their jobs and their housing,  four residents “came out” publicly for the first time to support the measure, including Gloria Mayer, a 63-year old grandma.  Mayer noted, “I am gay. That is the first time I have said that publicly. It is not that I’m embarrassed to be gay. But I have always felt that who I love is nobody’s business. ‘Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in,’ so here I am.”

Following the meeting, supporters were encouraged to send notes of thanks to the city council members.  A Facebook group set up to keep citizens informed about the ordinance is also encouraging folks to show their support by taking the following steps:

1. Plan to come to the next city council meeting on April 18, city hall, 6 p.m., earlier if you want to get a seat — they need to see our beating hearts and see our faces — AGAIN. We are real people with lives.

2. Write letters and emails, even very short ones that just say, “pass the ordinance” to the city council and if you want, the mayor.

3. Make one-on-one appointments with Councilmen Jim Johnston and Steve Brown. Let them hear from you, your personal story.

You can learn more about the ordinance and the group HERE.

Pocatello to hold Panel Discussion on Non-Discrimination Ordinance

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The Pocatello City Council is set to consider a nondiscrimination ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in housing, employment and public accommodations for the city.

According to a press release, an upcoming panel discussion will address such questions as,” What is a nondiscrimination ordinance? Is it necessary? Could it change Pocatello and in what ways? How will it impact religious freedom?”

“The NAACP-Pocatello Branch, 2Great4Hate and the Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship have gathered a variety of viewpoints from the community to address these important issues.”

Panelists will include:

·Dr. Tracie Hitter, Counselor, ISU Center for Counseling and Testing
·Brenda Stanley, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Portneuf Medical
·Dr. H. Wayne Schow, ISU Professor Emeritus, English
·James Rutchi, Attorney at Rutchi and Beck and former state representative
·The Rev. Barbara Condon, Pastor, Emmaus Lutheran Community, Idaho Falls.

The event, which will be moderated by Dr. David Adler, Director of the Andrus Center at Boise State University, is free and open to the public.

According to the release,”An additional goal of this panel is to educate the Pocatello community on issues facing gay and transgender people and how this ordinance could alter the climate of the community and in what ways. This important discussion will also help those who attend understand that nondiscrimination ordinances do not diminish rights, but foster equal rights for all citizens. Religious groups, business leaders and other members of the community want Pocatello to be a welcoming place for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.”

What: Bridging the Divide: A Panel Discussion in Pocatello on the Intersection of Religious Liberties, Commerce, and Nondiscrimination Laws

When: Wednesday, March 20th from 6-7:30pm.

Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ, 309 N Garfield Ave. in Pocatello.

Who: The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact 2Great4Hate, 2great4hate@gmail.com.

Watch: Andrew Sullivan takes on Idaho lunatic Doug Wilson

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Doug Wilson is not just your average Idaho fundamentalist preacher. As a lunatic extremist, he’s the kind of  pastor and theologian your mother should have warned you about.

According to Joseph L. Conn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State,“Wilson is better known in Idaho for his advocacy of outlandish religious and political viewpoints. His “firm foundation” seems to be Christian Reconstructionism, the extreme Religious Right theo-political movement that seeks to take “dominion” over America, scrap democracy and impose biblical law.”

In a interview with Christianity Today, Wilson told the reporter, when asked if he would execute those who identify as gay,”You can’t apply Scripture woodenly. You might exile some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim. There are circumstances where I’d be in favor of execution for adultery…. I’m not proposing legislation. All I’m doing is refusing to apologize for certain parts of the Bible.”

Wilson believes crap like “gay jokes are a tool of the cultural wars”. He writes “Gay jokes depend on sexual generalizations, and as such, they are an essential part of our defense of the way God made the sexual world.”

Wilson is also a rape apologist, blaming egalitarianism for the presence of rape and sexual violence, and he certainly shook things up when he “partly plagiarized booklet defending Old South slavery as a “life of plenty.”

Oh, and he’s also a genius at drawing the church’s spotlight unto himself. In  recent years he has “bravely” taken on several noted “cultural miscreants” in highly publicized debates.  Wilson has made a name for himself as of late by tying himself to the likes of famed atheist Christopher Hutchins and others.

His latest “LOOK AT ME TAKING ON THE COOL KIDS” debate was held last week in Moscow.  This time Wilson was sharing his spotlight with non-other than  gay conservative blogger, writer and commentator Andrew Sullivan. The question? “Is civil marriage for gay couples good for society?”

Expect the book and video series to be available at your local christian bookstore soon.

Watch Sully destroy Wilson’s insane ramblings below:

Meg Whitman, other GOP officials: Overturn Prop 8!

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Hewlett-Packard CEO and former California gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman, has joined 74 other top ranking republicans in asking the Supreme Court to overturn California’s discriminatory proposition 8.

According to the New York Times,”Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.”

The brief, which is expected to be filed with the court this week includes other GOP names,”Among…Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.”

Whitman signing on to the brief is  especially stunning considering the former ebay chief supported the proposition during her bid for governor.

“Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, who favored civil unions but opposed same-sex marriage during his 2012 presidential bid, also signed. Last week, Mr. Huntsman announced his new position in an article titled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” a sign that the 2016 Republican presidential candidates could be divided on the issue for the first time,” the Times reports.

Ken Mehlman, the former GOP chairman who was forced out of the closet by blogger Michael Rogers after supporting several anti-equality issues, tells the paper,”We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on March 26th. The justices are also scheduled to hear arguments in a case challenging the so-called “defense of marriage act” the following day.

LGBT groups across the country are planning marches, or similar actions, during the pivotal week to show their support. (Click HERE to learn more.)

Moscow’s Anti-discrimination Ordinance sent back for Revisions

Moscow, Idaho

The Moscow Administrative Council voted Monday night to send a proposed ordinance prohibiting LGBT discrimination back to the two committees responsible for crafting it.

The ordinance, which would prohibit discrimination in areas of housing and employment based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is a collaboration between the Human Rights Commission and the Fair and Affordable Housing Commission.

City Attorney Randy Fife drafted the ordinance and presented it to the City of Moscow Administrative Committee on Monday night.

Jim Huggins, head of GetEQUAL Idaho, attended the meeting. He reports Fair and Affordable Housing Commission’s Ken Nagy told the committee that in some cases discrimination in housing is necessary, based on past rental history etc. but that it’s wrong to discriminate, “just because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”. According to Huggins, Nagy’s was the only testimony taken during the meeting.

According to Moscow City Councilman Tom Lamar,”The City administrative committee action of sending it forward to the two citizen commissions was not so much for edits, but rather asking for review and input. There were no edits or modification requested by the Council Committee.”

The draft will be presented for a public hearing sometime in March or April. Following the hearing, it will return to the Administrative Committee, who will then decide whether or not to pass it on to the full city council. Huggins speculates that if all goes well, the ordinance should be in front of the city council sometime in May.

If passed, Moscow would join Sandpoint, Boise, and Ketchum in banning LGBT discrimination within city limits. There is speculation that Idaho Falls and Pocatello may be the next cities to take up the matter. Leaders in both towns have previously expressed interest in the idea.

For the seventh time in as many years, Idaho lawmakers will once again be asked to amend the state’s Human Rights Act to include the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” on a state-wide level.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, (D) Boise, says that she’s prepared to sponsor the measure this session. The language of the bill would be similar to last year’s proposed amendment, with a few minor changes.

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