City of Boise Proclaims May 17th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

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For the very first time in its 8-year history members of the State of Idaho’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and its allies are getting ready to join in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (I.D.A.H.O.).  As part of the planned festivities, Idaho’s capital city has officially proclaimed May 17th as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

In a press release, I.D.A.H.O. organizer Christopher Cooke said the historic proclamation gives the entire state hope that a new era is on its way when it comes to human rights. “With the the unanimous passage of a LGBT focused anti-discrimination ordinance, the appointment of a LGBT Police liaison, and now the proclamation calling for an end of intolerance and phobia when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, it’s pretty clear that the city has become a role model for other cities in Idaho to follow. We have no doubt that Boise’s light of truth, fairness and compassion shines like a beacon and that equality will soon become the norm in every corner of our state thanks to its leadership.”

I.D.A.H.O. events are scheduled to take place in Idaho on May 16th and 17th. On Thursday, May 16th, Idahoans will gather at the Anne Frank Memorial for an interfaith vigil to honor those impacted by the harms of homophobia and transphobia here at home and around the globe. The vigil will begin at six pm.

 On Friday, May 17th there will be an educational forum on the progression of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality. The forum will include a free screening of the award winning film, “Stonewall Uprising” followed by a panel discussion on the “state” of LGBT equality in America and here in Idaho. The event will be held from 5:30-7:30 pm inside the Boise State University Student Union Building Bishop Barnwell Room.

Pocatello’s LGBT community and its allies will also be observing I.D.A.H.O. on Friday with a celebration that will include speakers and personal stories. The event will start at 7:30 pm at the Co Ho (‘The smart bar’), located at 904 S 4th Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201. All events are free and open to the public.

Click HERE to visit the Act Up Idaho website. You can also find the group on Facebook by clicking HERE.

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Twin Falls Considers Adding protections for City Employees

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The Twin Falls City Council is considering expanding its employee anti-harassment and discrimination policy to include the words,”sexual orientation.”

The issue was raised in December by Councilwoman Rebecca Mills-Sojka, during a discussion over the city’s new employee handbook. The Times-News reported,”The City Council adopted the handbook without making the change, but City Manager Travis Rothweiler said city staff would study the issue and present findings to the council at a later date.”

“At the Jan. 7 meeting, City Manager Travis Rothweiler said city staff was nearly finished researching the topic,” reports the newspaper.

The staff findings are expected to be unveiled during tonight’s city council meeting.

While the policy change under discussion does not go as far as anti-discrimination ordinances enacted in Boise and Sandpoint, which ban discrimination in cases of housing, employment and public accommodation based a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the move would still be considered “a step in the right direction” by the city’s LGBT community.

Twin Falls City Council meets at 5:00 tonight, January 14th, at the Twin Falls City Council chambers located at 324 2nd Ave. E.

You can send emails of encouragement to city council members by clicking on their addresses below:

Mayor Greg Lanting glanting@tfid.org

Vice Mayor Don Hall dhall@tfid.org

Councilwoman Suzanne Hawkins shawkins@tfid.org

Councilwoman Rebecca Mills Sojka rmillssojka@tfid.org

Councilman Shawn Barigar sbarigar@tfid.org

Councilman Chris Talkington ctalkington@tfid.org

Councilman Jim Munn jmunn@tfid.org

Ketchum’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance heads for Final Approval

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A proposed ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate against a person because of his or her gender identity or sexual orientation was approved for a third and final reading by the Ketchum City Council on Tuesday night.

This week’s meeting marks the second time the council has unanimously voted to advance the measure.

Though council members could have voted to suspend a third reading of the proposal, city officials say they want to make sure it receives a fair political process.

Lisa Horowitz, director of community and economic development, told The Idaho Mountain Express in December that “there’s no absolute urgency,” to pass the measure. “This ordinance is a new topic for the city and the council wants to give the public opportunity to comment before adopting the ordinance,” she said.

If given final approval, during next week’s council meeting, on January 22nd, “a proposed Human Relations Review Board would be formed to investigate complaints of violations of the ordinance. The emphasis of the ordinance will be on “mediation and education.” However, violators could be charged by the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office with a misdemeanor,” the newspaper reports.

If passed, Ketchum would become the third city in Idaho to enact such an ordinance. Sandpoint passed its anti-discrimination ordinance in 2011 and Boise passed a similar measure in December. Leaders in Pocatello, Idaho Falls and Moscow are also considering adding their own anti-discrimination bans.  Driggs considered its own proposal in November but council members voted not to move the measure forward.

Boise’s ordinance went into affect on January 1st.  There will be a meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday, January 8th from 6:30-8:00 pm, at the Community Center in Garden City to answer any questions members of the LGBT community might have regarding the new law. Click HERE to learn more.

Save the Date: City Officials To Meet with LGBT Community Regarding New Ordinance

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If you’ve been wondering just how Boise’s new anti-discrimination ordinance is going to affect you, how it will be enforced, or what to do if you are facing discrimination, you’ll want to mark your calendar.

On Wednesday, January 9th from 6:30-8:00 pm, the Boise Police Department’s new LGBT Liaison Katie Davey, Deputy Police Chief Pete Ritter and City Council member Maryanne Jordan will  be among those joining in on a panel discussion regarding the ordinance.

The city’s new law prohibits employers and other businesses from discriminating against employees, renters, leasers or customers because they’re gay or transgender.

It was passed unanimously by the Boise City Council last month and went into affect on New Years Day.

Next week’s meeting will also give community members the chance to meet the police department’s new LGBT  Community Liaison, who assumed the position following the departure of Janet Lawler last year.

“With the new LGBT Liaison Katie Davey being named and the new city ordinance taking effect at the same time, it’s the perfect time to begin discussions like this between the LGBT community and the Boise Police Department. In the past, the LGBT community has expressed concern about contacting the police. Hopefully this meeting will begin to break down some of those fears and barriers and the LGBT community will begin to see the Boise Police Department as an ally.” says Lion’s Pride Director Donna Harwood, organizer of the event.

The discussion follows a more informal meeting held with representatives of the community last month.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided compliments of 3 Girls Catering.

What: A panel discussion/”meet and greet” with Boise City officials regarding Boise’s new anti-discrimination ordinance.

When: Wednesday, January 9th from 6:30-8:00 pm.

Where: The Community Center, 305 East 37th Street, Garden City, Idaho

Who: Everyone who is interested.

Click HERE to join in on the Facebook invite or to learn more.

The Top 10 of 2012: The Agenda Looks Back (Part 2)

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From the celebrities who came out in the past year to the advancements made in the name of equality, this is the conclusion of our two part article looking back at the year that was 2012.

(Click HERE for part one.)

Number 5: Frank VanderSloot Attempts to Censor The Internet

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To be fair, the Melaleuca CEO and National Finance Co-chair of the Mitt Romney campaign didn’t try to censure the whole internet , just the parts he disagreed with.

What started as a simple but well documented post, recapping past political activities of  the Eastern Idaho Republican, his company and his wife turned into a national story, thanks to independent journalist Jody May-Chang, Slate.com’s Glenn Greenwald, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and just about every other blogger and  news organization that cared about the freedom of speech on the internet.

VanderSloot would go on to publicly respond to the Greenwald article and eventually use his new found fame to not only target the White House, but to attempt to raise money for his favorite Presidential campaign as well.

Unfortunately for Frank, not only did he spend a lot of money backing a loosing candidate, he also spent a lot of money backing Idaho School Chief  Tom Luna’s ill-fated “educational reform” package, which was also rejected by voters.

Number 4: The President Finally Announces his Support for Marriage Equality

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After spending the last four or so years more or less ducking a straight answer to the marriage equality question, the President went public with his support in May during an interview with ABC News.

“I’ve…concluded that for me personally,  it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” said the President.

Those of us paying attention knew that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but more of a matter of “when.” This was, after all, the same president that lobbied for an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell”, same sex adoption and a whole host of other equality measures.

The President appears to be starting to use his influence to gain support for the issue as well. As The Advocate reports, last week the President, “expressed his support for marriage equality legislation pending in Illinois, marking the first time he has backed a legislative campaign at the state level.”

If the past four years of his administration are any indication, it’s a pretty safe bet the Obama administration will go down in history as the most LGBTQIA friendly White House to date, making his first term campaign promise of,” hope and change” more than just an empty slogan for millions of Americans.

Number 3: Millions of LGBT Americans say,”I do.”

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With the sound of wedding bells ringing from Washington to Maine , 2012 will forever be remembered as the year that settled the marriage debate once and for all.

Election night proved to be the pivotal turning point with voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington, for the first time in U.S. history, approving same-sex marriage by referendum.

For those keeping count, that brings the total number of states that support marriage equality to nine, not including Washington D.C.

With the the issue on the docket for the upcoming session of the Supreme Court, at play in states like Illinois and polls showing the majority of Americans now supporting some sort of equal rights, one can only assume that in just a few short years we will be looking back and wondering what the hullabaloo was all about. Of course, we could also soon be making a lot of divorce lawyers very wealthy people, but at least we’ll all be doing it equally.

Number 2: Idaho Lawmakers refuse to “Add the Words.”

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As the majority of the country expressed its support for equality, the Republican dominated Idaho Legislature proved once again in just how out of step it really is when it comes to the advancement of basic human rights.

For the past six years, citizen supporters of a bill that would add the words,”sexual orientation gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act have asked that it be given a full public hearing. For whatever reason, state lawmakers have refused, despite the  measure receiving bipartisan support of hundreds across the state.

The bill would make it illegal in Idaho to discriminate against someone solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of employment, housing or in other public amenities. Twenty-one states already have laws banning discrimination. Sixteen of those states also ban discrimination based on gender identity.

Organizers for the Add the Words sticky note campaign had strong hopes of the bill’s passage this year based on surveys and strong visible support for the measure. But when it came down to it,  in February, the Senate State Affairs committee shamefully voted 7 to 2 not to give the bill a full hearing once again, leaving many wondering if  the majority of state lawmakers don’t relish Idaho’s reputation as being one of the most intolerant states in the nation.

Look for the Add the Words campaign to be back in full force during the upcoming legislative session with a major education effort.

Number 1: Idaho towns pass their own “Add the Words” ordinances. 

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State lawmakers may enjoy Idaho’s reputation for being one of the most bigoted states in the union but the leaders in at least two cities realize that the label may not be the best when it comes to economic growth and the general well being of our great state.

Earlier this month, in a historic move, the Boise City Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance prohibiting LGBT discrimination when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodation. It takes affect at midnight. Sandpoint passed its own anti discrimination ordinance last December.

Several other Idaho towns, including Pocatello and Ketchum, are considering similar measures.

Former Sandpoint City council member John Reuter, who introduced the issue for council discussion, tells The Coeur d’ Alene Press that their ordinance was a labor of love on the part of several city officials and residents,”I think the biggest issue was a silent fear people lived in,” Reuter said. “People were concerned about losing their jobs, their homes or their lives.”

Boise Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan, who was instrumental in writing her city’s ordinance tells KBOI-TV,“If this ordinance can serve to have children in our community to feel valued in our community in a way they may not have before,” said Jordan. “To go away to school and to come home to a place that they love and know that they can thrive here as adults then I think we have done our civic responsibility.”

As heart breaking as the last legislative session was to Idaho’s LGBTQIA community, the city ordinances offer the hope that one day, Idaho will truly become a state that is “too great for hate.”

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