POCATELLO, Idaho — Voters in Pocatello, Idaho, handed gay rights advocates a narrow victory this week when they rejected a ballot referendum to overturn the city’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.
On Tuesday, Pocatello residents voted to keep the anti-discrimination ordinance by a margin of 147 votes. The vote was razor-thin, with 4,885 people voting to keep the ordinance and 4,738 voting to repeal it.
Pocatello is one of seven Idaho cities where city leaders have adopted local ordinances barring employers, landlords and most businesses from discriminating on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
But Pocatello’s ordinance, approved last June, was the first in the state to challenged with a ballot referendum.
Ralph Lillig, who led the campaign against the law, told NPR his side was far outspent by gay rights advocates who received money and manpower from national groups.
“I use the analogy of David and Goliath,” Lillig said. “We were very much a David in this thing. So, am I disappointed? Yes, of course. I think the people gave themselves a bad deal by not voting it out.”
Article continues below“It was a great feeling when we won,” said local resident Amy Scheibe. “Now we can focus on gay marriage. It’s one small step at a time.”
The victory was bittersweet, as earlier Tuesday a stay was issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals preventing same-sex marriages in the state from going forward or being recognized while state officials appeal a May 13 decision by U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale, who ruled Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.