HRC Blog

Pocatello Protects Its Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Post submitted by Susie Matsuura

Early this morning, near 2 a.m., we received final word that the voters of Pocatello, Idaho made history by protecting the city's non-discrimination ordinance from being repealed. The vote yesterday marked the first time a non-discrimination ordinance had ever been put up for repeal in Idaho, and the victory was hard-won, coming as it did during a traditionally low-turnout primary election.

The voters of Pocatello sent a clear message to the state and the rest of the country affirming that their city is one that is fair and welcoming to all.  With yesterday's vote, the city of nearly 55,000 takes its place with more than 190 other cities around the country that have non-discrimination ordinances protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents and visitors against discrimination.  Other Idaho cities with inclusive non-discrimination ordinances are Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Ketchum, Moscow, and Sandpoint .

HRC was a proud supporter of the Fair Pocatello campaign , and I was on the ground for weeks while HRC provided financial contributions, phone bank kits, and polling to ensure all Pocatellans knew the stakes in the lead -up to the election. With tremendous support from Pocatello advocates and community leaders, along with organizational partners, like Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the ACLU of Idaho, the Pride Foundation, and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the community stood strong against this attack on fairness and the Golden Rule.

Last year, dedicated advocate and PFLAG mother Susie Matsuura led the way in pressing Pocatello’s Human Rights Commission and city council to pass the local non-discrimination ordinance. After that, a small group of residents collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot for repeal. The campaign could have become divisive, but instead turned into an inspirational story of neighbors going door to door talking to neighbors, attending weekly phone banks, and small businesses standing up to say that repeal wasn’t something they supported.

The success of Pocatello’s efforts to defend the ordinance sends a clear message to communities and local leaders across the country that securing fair and equal treatment for LGBT citizens is not only the morally right thing to do, but it is the politically right thing to do.

To find out more about what cities around the country are doing to support their LGBT residents and visitors, check out HRC's Municipal Equality Index.

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