Printed on: January 17, 2013

Put some teeth in it

Firing somebody because he is gay is wrong. Evicting a person from an apartment because she is a lesbian is wrong as well. We know that. And yet, state law does not provide equal protection. The Idaho Human Rights Act says people cannot be fired or evicted because of the color of their skin, the church they attend, the country they came from, gender, age or disability. But in Idaho, your sexual orientation and gender identity can land you in the unemployment line or on the streets.

The Legislature's refusal to plug this gaping hole in Idaho code has motivated local governments to act. Sandpoint and Boise have banned housing and employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. Lewiston, Moscow and Twin Falls prohibit discrimination within the city workforce. And Idaho Falls' elected leaders have, to their credit, joined this important discussion.

But, a question has arisen: Should the city pass an anti-discrimination ordinance or be satisfied with a resolution expressing the council's opinion on this issue? There can be no doubt as to the correct answer. Equality under law is not negotiable. Congress in 1964 didn't suggest it was a good idea that racial, ethnic and religious minorities have equal rights. It passed the Civil Rights Act, putting the weight of federal law behind the American ideal that all men -- and women -- are created equal.

The Idaho Falls City Council need not suggest anything. This is not a finger-in-the-wind issue. The status quo is wrong. The change in law proposed by Councilwoman Sharon Parry is right. Let's let it be known that Idaho Falls is open to everybody. Pass an ordinance outlawing housing and employment discrimination against gays and lesbians, and the sooner the better.

Corey Taule