The Republican Party doesn’t want to get involved in your life unless you happen to be lesbian, gay, female, Black, Hispanic or, well, anyone who isn’t one of their voters. So it is not surprising that Idaho Republican leaders want their state Legislature to override and eliminate the non-discrimination ordinances passed by several cities in the state. These non-discrimination ordinances cover LGBT people, of course.
So far, six cities in Idaho have passed non-discrimination organizes with a seventh- Idaho Falls- on the horizon.
The Idaho Republican central committee passed a non-binding resolution which calls on the GOP majority in the legislature to pass a law quashing those ordinances. According to Idaho Republican Chairman Barry Peterson “It’s a way for the people to make their expressions known to the Legislature. We let ‘em know that this is the way that the majority of the party feels.”
Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem responded to Peterson by saying “The Republican Party itself appears to be somewhat fractured, so I’m not assuming that it would get full Republican support. … I would assume that there would certainly be some that would recognize the local rights.”
Coeur d’Alene’s city council passed their non-discrimination ordinance by a vote of five to one.
Former Bonner County commissioner and the chairman of the Idaho GOP’s resolution committee Cornel Rasor offered up a bit of mild homophobia saying “I’d hire a gay guy if I thought he was a good worker. But if he comes into work in a tutu … he’s not producing what I want in my office.”
Rasor also said “If a guy has a particular predilection and keeps it to himself, that’s fine, but if he wants to use my business as a platform for his lifestyle, why should I have to subsidize that? And that’s what these anti-discrimination laws do.”
The question is, would he fire a straight guy who came in to work in a tutu? After all, it is presumed that most businesses have some form of dress code, so why is it that he is worried about a gay employee coming in wearing a tutu? Shouldn’t he fire anyone who does not meet his dress code? For that matter, would he fire a straight person who was using his office to conduct church business on company time?
Rasor was one of the people who presented resolutions to pass a law to overturn the local non-discrimination ordinances.
The resolution reads “Resolved, that the Idaho Republican State Central Committee recommends that our legislators support Idaho’s current anti-discrimination laws and policies and enact a law that would make unenforceable any municipal ordinances that would seek to expand categories of prohibited discrimination beyond current state anti-discrimination laws and policies.”
Currently, the Idaho Human Rights Act bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based upon a variety of criterion, but sexual orientation and gender identity are not among them.
Tony Stewart, though, has a very different take on this entire issue. Stewart is a founding member of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations and a retired North Idaho College political scientist. He said about the resolution “If the Legislature was to pass a law in Idaho voiding all of those cities’ ordinances, they would be sending a nationwide message that the LGBT community is really not welcome in Idaho and they can be discriminated against in jobs and housing. It would be a disastrous message.”
Stewart cited the case of a Lewiston gay man whose partner died and the obituary named him as a survivor. Stewart noted that “And that day he got fired. So here’s a man, a law-abiding citizen grieving over the loss of his partner, and also got fired the same day. When you deal with jobs and housing and all, kicking people to the curb and saying somehow you’re unacceptable, that’s what they’re really saying. It reminds me so much of segregation in the south.”
Unsurprisingly, Rasor hides behind the ideas of liberty to justify his bigotry stating “All I see is more and more laws making things more and more difficult, more and more restrictive, more and more controlled, and I’m a liberty person. I like to be left alone. I like to make my own decision.”
Peterson, of course, relied on the ‘I don’t know anyone who has been X, so it must not be happening’ excuse saying “Personally I don’t know anybody that’s been discriminated against on any of those issues, so I do not feel like a law should have to compel me something that I’m already willing to do. … You take away from somebody their opportunity to make a choice, to make a decision, to me that’s a serious impact upon liberty and freedom.”
Of course, the day that these men can be discriminated against is the day they are all for non-discrimination.