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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Idaho to Observe International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (I.D.A.H.O.)

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As hundreds of organizations around the world mobilize to celebrate the International Day Against Against Homophobia and Transphobia (I.D.A.H.O.), for the very first time in its 8-year history members of the state of Idaho’s LGBT community and its allies are getting ready to join in the celebration.

Created in 2004, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is global date set aside to draw the attention of policy makers, opinion leaders, social movements, public opinion, the media, etc, to the issue, and to promote a world of tolerance, respect and freedom regardless of people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. As much as it is a day against violence and oppression, it is also a day for freedom, diversity and acceptance.

Organizers here in the state of Idaho say they are joining in the movement to not only highlight the problems of homophobia and transphobia around the state, but also to draw attention to the need for more elected officials to take a stand to protect ALL of their constituents.

Organizer Christopher Cooke says Idaho lawmakers can no longer ignore the growing need for such laws and ordinances,“When you have bodies like the United Nations and the State Department calling for tolerance and understanding for the LGBT community on a global scale, it’s mind-boggling that here at in the gem state lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women continue to be harassed, beat, and bullied. They also continue to be at risk of losing their housing, their jobs and can be denied public accommodation simply for being who they are. Heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.”

Far from being a “gay” issue, homophobia and transphobia targets all people who don’t conform to majority sexual and gender roles. It also continues to be a global problem. In more than 80 countries around the world, loving someone of the same-sex is still considered illegal, at times involving life-time imprisonment. In 7 countries, homosexual acts are punishable by death. In almost all countries, freedom not to act as socially determined by one person’s sex at birth is being limited by Transphobic laws and attitudes. But even in progressive countries, like here in the U.S., these phobias still exist in the form of discriminatory laws, unjust representations in the media, unfair treatment by employers, negative social attitudes, etc.

“We are a coalition of concerned individuals, and organizations . Our dedication is driven by our passion, and shared desire to make Idaho the best we can. We have felt the collective pain in injustice in our community, and seek only to do our part in building, educating, and activating our community, and allies, in achieving dignity and equality. Though love we unlock the potential greatness our community has to offer,” says Cooke.

I.D.A.H.O. events are scheduled to take place in communities around the state on May 16th and 17th. The events are free and open to the public. To learn more, to share your story, or to get involved you can go to the event website set up for the state of Idaho set up at www.actupidaho.org or you can find the official Facebook page HERE.

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.

Watch: Edie Windsor following the DOMA Arguments

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If there’s any doubt that Edie Windsor is a prime candidate for equality iconicism this should clear that right up…

From her legal team:

Moscow Advances Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

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The city of Moscow, Idaho may soon become the fourth city in Idaho to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. During a meeting Monday night the Moscow City Council Administrative Committee voted 3-0 to send the ordinance onto the full city council with a “do pass” recommendation.

That’s the same committee that sent the ordinance back last month for what Moscow City Councilman Tom Lamar described as “review and input.” According to Jim Huggins, head of GetEQUAL Idaho, the council is expected to take the ordinance up during its meeting on April 1st.

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.

Huggins says he expects the Moscow measure will pass the council. 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. Even so, that still leaves about one-sixth of the state’s population unprotected by any sort of sexual orientation or gender identity anti-discrimination ordinance or law. For the seventh year in a row, the Idaho Legislature declined to consider a  similar statewide measure.

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