By Cathy Kristofferson, June 16,2013
Idaho, like other states, has gained some protections for its LGBT community through municipal ordinances banning discrimination in housing and employment. It seems the Idaho State GOP just can’t stand that fact! Yesterday at their annual Central Committee summer meeting the Republican Party leaders of Idaho passed a non-binding resolution urging the GOP-dominated legislature to rescind those protections, making them null and void.
Thus far, the GOP-led Idaho Legislature has refused to add housing and workplace protections for gays and lesbians to the Idaho Human Rights Act. This had led the LGBT community in a few cities to fight for housing and job protections via city ordinances. And fight they have had to do.
Municipal ordinances have been passed in Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Ketchum, Moscow, Boise and most recently in Pocatello. And just this past Thursday, the city of Idaho Falls discussed for the first time at a public meeting the possibility of their own such ordinance.
After 40 years of inaction on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and its precursor the ”Gay Civil Rights Bill” first introduced in 1974, LGBT communities in many red states have carved out somewhat ‘safer havens’ with some protections. One can see on the map below from the MAP Project just how important these local ordinances have been in providing some protections in states where otherwise the LGBT community would be without any at all:
The resolution the Idaho GOP passed yesterday demands that the Legislature pass a law making local discrimination protections unenforceable if they go beyond the state’s protections.
The risk here of course is that if this approach is successful in Idaho and then spreads to other states with GOP-dominated legislatures all of the states on the map above with some level of protections provided by local ordinances will go back to having none. Next thing you know the GOP’ll be calling for statewide Defense of Bigotry Act constitutional amendments…