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Coeur d’Alene latest Idaho town to consider anti-discrimination law

Coeur d’Alene latest Idaho town to consider anti-discrimination law

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Coeur d’Alene officials are considering joining three other Idaho cities in outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

City Councilman Mike Kennedy is drafting an ordinance based on a measure adopted by Boise last year, The Spokesman Review reported Thursday.

In the past 15 months, the cities of Sandpoint, Moscow and Ketchum have also passed similar ordinances.

“I think it’s needed, I think it’s overdue, and it’s simple equal rights,” Kennedy said. “We shouldn’t be excluding any group or party from full participation and full protection under the law.”

He said the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Rights asked the council to add the language to the city code.

The Pocatello City Council narrowly rejected an ordinance last week intended to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

And about a month ago, state lawmakers refused to hold a formal hearing on a proposal to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s Human Rights Act.

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“The Legislature didn’t act again this year on it, and so it makes sense to do it now and help push the momentum toward a statewide law,” Kennedy said.

Coeur d’Alene and other Idaho cities opted to adopt tougher rules on child care centers after state lawmakers rejected bills before eventually approving tighter standards.

Jon Downing, a part-time chemistry instructor at North Idaho College and a co-adviser for the NIC Gay-Straight Alliance, said he has heard stories of discrimination in Coeur d’Alene.

“I have had students fired from their jobs for coming out in their workplace,” said Downing, who is gay. “I have counseled student victims of hate, some of whom were considering suicide to escape the ugliness they see all around them.”

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