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Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 12:27 am

LGBT ordinance’s failure analyzed

    POCATELLO — When attorney Jacki Pick of the Heritage Foundation arrived in Pocatello on April 4 she was able to secure time in a City Council work session prior to a public hearing on a new proposed ordinance to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodations.

    Pick told council members and Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad that the ordinance they were considering would violate the religious freedoms of some residents.

    Pick contacted Mayor Blad again last week and provided him via email with a new proposed ordinance that removed criminal sanctions for violations and essentially allowed those with “sincere religious beliefs” in opposition to the gay lifestyle to discriminate, according to Deputy City Attorney Kirk Bybee. Bybee spent months crafting the ordinance that failed Thursday.

    Blad said he will consider different sources and proposed amendments from all council members during a work session on a new ordinance May 9.

    “My job as mayor is to bring the community together,” Blad said.

    Thursday night Bybee told council members he would not be comfortable using the ordinance submitted for review by Pick.

    “People's religious beliefs trumps everything else — it allows the use of religious claims to get away with discrimination,” Bybee said about the Heritage Foundation document.

    Idaho's statewide anti-discrimination laws already protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, age, religious affiliation or handicap. And violations are criminal. Attempts by pro-gay rights advocates to get the Idaho Legislature to consider adding gender orientation to anti-discrimination law have been unsuccessful.

    Three Idaho cities, Sandpoint, Boise and Moscow, have already passed an ordinance similar to the one rejected by Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad on Thursday night after a 3-3 split vote by the council.

    Pocatello's proposed ordinance that failed was fashioned after the state's anti-discrimination law when it comes to other groups, according Bybee.

    “This ordinance, as is every other ordinance that has passed in four cities in this state, is modeled after the state's anti-discrimination law,” Bybee told the council. “They've all criminalized the conduct.”

    Bybee also pointed to the International Municipal Lawyers Association, IMLA, as a source for modeling anti-discrimination ordinances. He said ordinances like the civil penalty one promoted by the Heritage Foundation provide “no mechanisms to compensate someone who has suffered economic consequences from discrimination.”

    After the meeting, the Journal was approached by several people who expressed concerns they had with the Heritage Foundation having influence on a local political decision.

    The Heritage Foundation is a conservative “think tank” founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors of the Coors Brewing Co. The foundation is dedicated to promoting conservative ideas and causes and grew in influence during the Ronald Reagan presidency.

    In 2012, former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint resigned from the U.S. Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation. This week the foundation, based in Washington, attacked the bipartisan immigration reform bill released by the “Gang of Eight.”

    In the past, the Heritage Foundation has championed the Defense of Marriage Act to prevent gay marriage in the U.S. According to a 2011 New York Times article, the foundation pulled out of the Conservative Political Action Conference that year because Republicans were including the gay group, GOProud.

    The Heritage Foundation website offers the following statement about government action similar to the one debated in Pocatello on Thursday in a lengthy section dedicated to “Religion and Civil Society”:

    “When civil liability or equal access to government benefits depends on private citizens adopting the “official” state position on controversial moral issues, the potential for infringement of religious liberty and rights of conscience is clear.”

    Whether the model ordinance suggested by Heritage Foundation attorney Pick has any weight as the council considers a modified anti-discrimination ordinance remains to be seen, but Mayor Blad said he's looking forward to “getting this community all tied back together.”

    “I'm excited about bringing a new one up,” Blad said about a planned June 6 hearing date.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • jasonut29 posted at 7:06 pm on Mon, Apr 29, 2013.

    jasonut29 Posts: 3

    I'm still waiting for someone to bring out what really happened at the work session. Was there minutes taken. Was the meeting posted? Both are a requirement of the open meeting law. Mayor Blad has shown absolutely no leadership in regard to this issue. When the majority of the people in the hearing are supporting the idea that should be a major consideration for the vote. Had this been a hearing on a annexation and the majortiy of the people testified were in favor would the Mayor have voted to keep the community together OR would any of the other Council had even considered voting against it. I heard an interview with a Council Member where he stated that he didn't like the reference to criminal in the ordinance.....well sir if I was able to fire you because you are a white male OR better yet a member of your chosen religion do you think that should be criminal......IT IS CRIMINAL and so should firing or refusing to hire someone because of the sexual identity!! This vote was a disgrace and an embarrassment to Pocatello....national news because a group of council people apparently thought it better to vote the way some person in a work session asked them to than vote as the majority of people at the hearing (and the written testimony) support. When this is brought back to a vote in June it should be the same ordinance....the only difference there should be is the council and Mayor should vote without their religious view affecting their vote.....if they can't do that they should not be representing Pocatello!!

  • jasonut29 posted at 6:58 pm on Mon, Apr 29, 2013.

    jasonut29 Posts: 3

    Funny how you say "most" African you have a magic eight ball that says that? The fact many blacks supported it shows how effective the lies and hate were in Prop is much different and anyone who can read understands that...CA is not the same state as it was would be a different story.

  • Truth Detector posted at 8:35 pm on Sun, Apr 21, 2013.

    Truth Detector Posts: 61

    Most African-Americans are insulted and repulsed by the comparison of their struggle for civil rights with that of the LGBT crowd. Black Christians came out in large numbers for Prop 8 in California.

  • Kindness posted at 11:58 pm on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    Kindness Posts: 3

    woops, I accidentally submitted my last post before finishing...I became actively involved with a youth center for the LGBT teens .living and families living here. I began meeting adults and youth alike who were facing a great deal of prejudice based on ignorance of the LGBT community. I too was facing a great deal of opposition in holding the current position I held for employment. As do other members in the LGBT communtiy face, I too had to endure daily prejudice and fears from a minority of the community, who are ignorantly, and hatefully vocal. On the other hand I saw that the general population was somewhat indifferent toward me. It seemed as though the ordinance would simply confirm the consensus of the majority of people living here. Further, I thought that the ordinance would work to encourage those who did not understand the LGBT community, to have an opportunity to be informed, and if nothing else, would realize that their hate was not considered appropriate for healthy for the city. I thought that with the passing of such an ordinance it would empower the LGBT individuals living here to begin feeling as if they too deserved equal treatment within Pocatello.
    While listening to the comments by those representatives who opposed the ordinance, it became perfectly clear to me that there is a contigency within this city who are committed to allowing the discrimination to continue. Despite overwhelming public support, these representative took side with the ignorant few who choose to allow their hate and fear to enable their slothfullness in learning about a culture they fail to understand. They chose to represent the city as a community fearful of progress and unwilling to accept diversity. In fact it was even mentioned that an ordinance which will allow the business community to refuse service or discriminate against an LGBT individual, based on religious beliefs would better protect religious freedom.
    That argument was also used when segregation laws were overturned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I simply cannot see the logic in considering how a business owner or customer will have their right to believe in their religion, if services are equally provided to all members of the community.
    I was excited for the future of this city. I still am. You know why? Because, as with all minorities who have been discriminated against, with determination, sacrifice and economic influence within a community, every group has overcome hate and fear. Goodness is eventually realized and overcomes evil. That is what this country was founded on...Justice and Liberty for All. To use religion as a shielf for one's own laziness for change to achieve the goal for a "just society" is one of the greatest evil's of all. It is cowardice and for that I have little tollerance.

  • Kindness posted at 11:19 pm on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    Kindness Posts: 3

    I first would like to commend Kirk Bybee for his efforts. I also want to thank those who put forth so much effort in supporting the proposed ordinance.
    I moved here despite many suggestions by friends and family, that I was placing myself in a precarious environment for my career goals as well as for my daughter and I's safety. I was excited to hear that a nondiscrimination ordinance was being considered. I became actively involved with

  • Firefly posted at 5:30 pm on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    Firefly Posts: 44

    Not sure what a LDS prayer sounds like, but the meeting on 04/18 was opened with a prayer from a minister from the Bahai faith. The council invites a myriad of faith leaders and just regular members of the community to lead the invocations. You can check the minutes online to verify this. I am sure some faiths decline the offer and I am equally confident that if there is a given faith that hasn't received an invitation they can contact the City and request to be included. The Council is not endorsing nor promoting a given religion by allowing invocation to be led by a leader of that religion - they are exercising tolerance and demonstrating that our City is made up of diverse people with diverse religions.

  • joe smith posted at 1:10 pm on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    joe smith Posts: 2

    One other point that I would like to make and this is purely observational in regards to Idaho's legislative body in general. I am very disturbed by the fact that every city and state event that I have personally attended there has been a flagrant disregard for the separation of CHURCH and STATE. I have seen legislative state representatives holding the bible during proceedings claiming: "The Bible" as the law of the land? This was also present in the Pocatello city Councils meeting which was opened with an LDS prayer?? I consider this irregular, ignorant and non constitutional.

  • joe smith posted at 12:52 pm on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    joe smith Posts: 2

    It was clear by anyone observing the city counsel meeting that Blad and the members knew beforehand that the bill would be rejected. The rather large presence of Law Enforcement Personnel gave their conspiracy away. Although the LDS church may publicly state that they are for LGBT rights, it is well know here in Pocatello that the underlying ideals of the church are truly the antithesis of equal rights for LGBT individuals. Bybee's statement about understanding the LGBT's plight referring to his religions necessity to flee the Midwest because of social rebuke and persecution was at best ineffectual, considering the history of his religious founders known execution of immoral crimes in 1844. It is clear that religious ignorance, and bigotry still exist in Idaho. Shame on you Pocatello city representatives for your lack of compassion and inability to evolve into higher life forms.

  • Sierra G posted at 9:06 am on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    Sierra G Posts: 3

    In the room, there were maybe 15 total people against the bill. The majority was very much for the bill. Sadly, many people do not realize that the LGBT community is not protected nationally, statewide, countywide, or even citywide. In the article, it uses the term 'gay lifestyle', which shows so much ignorance and bias in itself, that it should completely destroy the credibility of any document it is in. Gay is no more a lifestyle than having a nose is, or being born female or male. Before you argue that, please go look up 'is homosexuality biological' in your favorite search engine. Even the LDS church understands, and that is why they favored a passing of LGBT rights in Salt Lake City. Speaking of, does that mean that all who are against the passing, are against the church? 'Mayor' Blad (I put mayor in quotes because a mayor is for the best interest of the city, which he is not) voted no to the ordinance to supposedly keep his city from being divided. From what I have seen and heard, except for the 'Westboro Mormons' that are afraid of change (the ones who are still upset they have to share a bathroom with a 'non-white'), we are all for the ordinance passing. I think it could go for a citywide vote, with the exact text that was written in the proposed ordinance, and it would pass by at least (AT LEAST) 60%.
    After reading the proposed new ordinance, written by the ARF, it is easy to see that the deep south is still alive and well in Eastern Idaho.
    "Minnie baked you a nice chocolate pie, Mr Mayor, would you like a nice slice of Minnie's pie? [beam]

  • Shelley posted at 7:50 am on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    Shelley Posts: 23

    Let's make this perfectly clear, this ordinance did not "divide" the community. Mayor Blad is the one who divided the community -- allowing undue outside influence to participate at the last minute and have greater influence over the city council than we lowly folk, aka Pocatello citizens. We don't need a new ordinance. The one written by our city legal staff is fine. We need a new mayor!


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