Pocatello Could Turn Back The Clock On Local Non-Discrimination Ordinance

May 19, 2014

Tuesday, voters in Pocatello will decide the fate of a law that’s been on the books for less than a year. Proposition 1 asks whether the city’s ordinance protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents should remain or be repealed. A 'yes' vote would repeal the law.

The Pocatello City Council narrowly approved the ordinance last June. It’s similar to non-discrimination laws in cities like Boise, Sandpoint and Ketchum.

But after the city council enacted the law last summer, it quickly drew criticism. Enough signatures were gathered to put Proposition 1 on the ballot this Tuesday. The organization behind the proposition is called Vote Yes Pocatello.

A spokesperson from the group declined to be interviewed for this story. But in a statement, the group says the non-discrimination law should be repealed because it “fails to ensure all citizens are treated fairly and equally and instead expands special protections to a small group.” Here's the full statement:

Credit Aaron Webb / Flickr Creative Commons

VOTE YES POCATELLO is a group of local people working diligently to assure passage of Prop 1 to repeal Ordinance 2921. This unnecessary law was created to solve a problem for which there is little, to no, supporting evidence. The law fails to ensure ALL citizens are treated fairly and equally and instead expands special protections to a small group.

Rather than being used as a protective measure, these laws are being used around the country as a weapon against individuals and businesses to infringe upon their freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and property rights, forcing them to facilitate or participate in activities that contradict their values. Ordinance 2921 threatens Pocatello citizens with criminal investigation, a criminal record, up to six months in jail and up to $1000 fine just for following their personal convictions.

Equally, disturbing is the removal of a barrier of protection that has always existed to shield females from predatory acts like voyeurism, sexual assault, and indecent exposure – in areas presumed to be safe spaces such as locker rooms and changing rooms. The core issue is about your loss of constitutionally-protected rights of conscience and property to government control. The ordinance violates your First and Fourth Amendment rights: Faith, Family, Freedom, and Property. Ordinance 2921 is simply bad public policy and needs to be repealed by voting YES on Prop 1.

The core issue is about your loss of constitutionally-protected rights of conscience and property to government control. The ordinance violates your First and Fourth Amendment rights: Faith, Family, Freedom, and Property.

Ordinance 2921 is simply bad public policy and needs to be repealed by voting YES on Prop 1.

Trevor Chandler disagrees. He’s part of the coalition called Fair Pocatello, which wants to keep the non-discrimination law in place.

“If have a business open to the community, it should be open to the entire community," says Chandler. "We strongly believe in religious and faith protections and that’s something that is not affected with this non-discrimination ordinance that’s in place.”

Chandler says the campaign has been going door-to-door and making calls on the issue. He says since it’s a primary, not a general election, it’s an uphill battle. But he’s hopeful voters will go to the polls and vote down the proposition.

If not, Pocatello will be the first Idaho city to repeal a local non-discrimination law.

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