CDA Passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

By Tom Bacon

By a surprisingly lopsided vote, the Coeur d'Alene city council joined a growing list of other Idaho cities to ban discrimination in business and housing based on sexual orientation.

The new ordinance protects LGBT people - gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.  It's aimed at civil rights protection in employment and public accommodations, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

By approving the measure 5-to-1, the Coeur d' Alene council joined the Idaho cities of Boise, Ketchum, Moscow and Sandpoint, which have adopted their own anti-discrimination rules after the state legislature refused to address the issue. The new ordinance makes violations misdemeanor offenses with fines up to $1,000 and possible jail time of up to six months. Churches and religious organizations are excluded.

The issue Tuesday evening attracted intense interest. About 400 people tried to jam into the city council meeting chamber, and strong, emotional comments took up several hours before the council could vote.

The only council vote against the measure came from Steve Adams, who said it's a moral issue that shouldn't be on the city's radar. He fears the new rule will be used as a sword rather than a shield and will obliterate business owners' rights.

But Tony Stewart, a member of the Coeur d' Alene Human Rights Task Force, said it was a simple matter of standing up against discrimination.
Most council members agreed with him, saying they felt compelled to protect all citizens of the city.
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