City of Pocatello Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression Discrimination Referendum, Proposition 1 (May 2014)

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A City of Pocatello Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression Discrimination Referendum was on the May 20, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Pocatello in Bannock County, Idaho, where it was narrowly defeated.

If approved, this measure would have repealed a city ordinance that prohibited discrimination with regard to housing, employment and public accommodations based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression. The ordinance, Pocatello City Ordinance No. 2921, was approved by the city council in a four against two vote in 2013. In fall of 2013, Pocatello resident Ralph Lillig successfully led an effort to put a veto referendum targeting the ordinance on the ballot.

A "yes" vote on this ballot question would have resulted in the repeal of the ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression and a "no" vote allowed the ordinance to remain in effect.[1]

Election results

Proposition 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No4,94350.41%
Yes 4,863 49.59%
Election results from Bannock County Elections Office

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot was:

Should the city repeal Ordinance No. 2921, which prohibits discrimination against a person in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations, based upon that person’s sexual orientation and gender identity/expression? A ‘yes’ vote would mean you want the city to repeal the ordinance. A ‘no’ vote would mean you want the city to keep the ordinance in effect.[1][2]

Ordinance text

Purpose and intent

The purpose and intent section of Ordinance 2921 read:

It is the finding and the intent of the City of Pocatello that no person shall be denied his or her civil rights or be discriminated against based upon his or her actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, age, marital or familial status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The Pocatello City Council declares that such discrimination prohibitions are necessary and desirable for the following reasons:

A. In order to ensure that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing, commercial property and the use of public accommodations, the City of Pocatello has determined that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression must be addressed, and appropriate legislation enacted.

B. It is hereby declared to be public policy of the City of Pocatello that discriminatory practices are detrimental because they impede the social and economic progress of a city by preventing all of the City’s citizens from contributing to the cultural, spiritual, social, and commercial life of the community. The contributions of all citizens of the City of Pocatello are essential to the City’s growth, vitality, and prosperity.

C. It is hereby declared that every individual in the City of Pocatello has the right to work and earn wages through gainful employment, has the right to seek housing, and has the right to enjoy public accommodation and hospitality.

D. It is the intent of this Chapter that all persons be treated fairly and equally, and it is the express intent of this Chapter to guarantee fair and equal treatment under the law to all people in the City of Pocatello. The denial of fair and equal treatment under the law due to sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the city’s citizens, and damages a city’s economic well-being.

E. This Chapter shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of the City of Pocatello for the protection of the public welfare, prosperity, health and peace of the City of Pocatello, its residents and the community.

F. The prohibitions against discriminatory acts as provided for in this ordinance are intended to supplement state and federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodations, and housing. For complaints, alleging discrimination on a basis proscribed under state or federal law (e.g. race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, gender, national origin, and/or disability) the Complainant is advised of his or her right to file a report alleging a violation of Idaho Code section 18-7301 et. seq., and/or his or her right to file a complaint with the Idaho Commission on Human Rights and/or the Federal Equal Employment opportunity Commission pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as amended, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended.[3][2]

Full text

The full text of ordinance No. 2921 that this referendum sought to repeal is available here.

Support

Note:Those who were opposed to the ordinance and in favor of the referendum are referred to as "supporters" in this article.

Supporters

Pocatello resident Ralph Lillig led the petition drive to put the referendum on the ballot.[1]

Arguments in favor

During public hearings on the ordinance, those opposed to it, who ultimately supported the veto referendum, expressed concerns about transgender adults sharing bathrooms with children and also stated doubts about the necessity of the ordinance.[1]

Opposition

Note: Those who were in support of the ordinance and opposed to the referendum are referred to as "opponents" in this article.

Arguments against

During public hearings on the ordinance, those in favor of it, who ultimately were opposed to the referendum, gave testimony about the discrimination against the LGBT community that existed in the city. Many recounted personal experiences.[1]

Background

City council election

In the November city council election following the passage of the ordinance, two council members who had voted in favor of the anti-discrimination law were up for re-election. Gary Moore won re-election by a small margin and Roger Bray was defeated by current council member Michael Orr.[1]

Similar ordinances

City attorney Kirk Bybee wrote the ordinance language and based it in part on similar city laws enacted in other cities including Boise, Sandpoint, Coeur d'Alene, Ketchum, Moscow, Idaho Falls.[1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Idaho

The backers of the referendum petition needed 1,420 valid signatures to put there referendum seeking to repeal the discrimination ordinance on the May ballot. In October of 2013, the Bannock County clerk verified that 1,671 registered voters had signed the petition and certified it for the election. There were certain allegations that some petition signers did not understand what they were signing, but no official reports were made. City attorney Kirk Bybee, who drafted the text of the ordinance in question, stated that he could hardly believe that all the people who signed the petition understood the implications of their actions. He also said, “I’ve heard some rumors that people were unhappy about the petition, but we’ve received no formal complaints.”[4]

See also

External links

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Additional reading

References


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