As a resident of Idaho Falls, I am one of many who opposed the adoption of the nondiscrimination ordinance that you unanimously adopted on May 14. This ordinance introduced more new discrimination than it attempted to prevent. Below are specific points to support my opposition.
A just law is one that preserves or increases equal protections for all citizens subject to that law. No law or ordinance is just that reduces the overall net protections of citizens or that shifts a purported injustice from one segment of the population to another.
The role of government is to protect freedoms and liberties already identified in federal and state constitutions. It is not the role of public servants to shape social values through the passing of laws or ordinances. Social values must be left to the community to determine through the use of the existing freedoms that government is charged to protect.
Your nondiscrimination ordinance seeks to prevent discrimination from businesses against certain citizens based on their gender identity. Instead, the passage of your ordinance significantly reduced the previously existing freedoms of all Idaho Falls business owners and introduced discrimination against a very significant segment of the population. No segment of the population should be marginalized by law. A just law protects or enhances the freedoms of all citizens equally.
A better ordinance is one that is inclusive, not exclusive, of the citizens subject to that law. For example, recall when city sidewalks had curbs that were squared off at intersections. This excluded wheelchair-bound citizens from reasonable access at intersections. These were changed creating the cement ramps at intersections that we are now familiar with. These new ramps did not exclude pedestrians who already had freedom of access with the old curbs. Freedom of access was expanded to include a previously excluded segment of the population without intruding on the freedoms already established and protected for the existing population. It was a just law.
Should transgender people have equal freedom of access to business services? Yes. This same freedom should extend to all people irrespective of age, gender, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, etc. In other words, all people in Idaho Falls should have the same freedom. The fact is that this freedom and equality already existed under the law before you, our City Council, passed your nondiscrimination ordinance. You simply failed to recognize the freedoms we already had. And you failed unanimously despite our call not to do so.
I understand that three of the six City Council positions are up for election this time next year. So is the mayor’s seat. With government overreach so fresh in our minds from response to this virus, you might strongly consider repealing your mistake. That includes your earlier nondiscrimination mistake passed in 2013. You might consider making the same efforts to publicize your reversal that you made when providing “open public discussion” on the nondiscrimination ordinance before you passed it without meaningful public input. Your move. And we will be watching.