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ID Equality Summit Focuses on Non-Discrimination

November 26, 2008

Boise, ID – Idaho has come a long way from the days of a reputation associated with white supremacist groups, but in some ways, the state still has a long way to go to on the non-discrimination front. That's the assessment coming from the recent Idaho Equality Summit.

Emilie Jackson-Edney with the Idaho Equality Committee attended the summit, and says the state needs to be clear in its laws that people cannot be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientations, or perceived orientations.

"Here in the State of Idaho, a person can be fired from a job strictly because of how they identify, and/or what their orientation is."

Jackson-Edney says the recommendation coming from the summit is to update the Idaho Human Rights Act to specify non-discrimination for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans-gendered Idahoans.

Critics of the idea say it could force small businesses with a religious focus to hire people they don't agree with. Jackson-Edney points out the Act exempts small businesses.

"People end up on the street unemployed, and one of the things about our community that we worry about is under-employment and unemployment."

Cities are being asked to set clear non-discrimination policies while a proposal is crafted to update state law. Boise City put such a policy on its books in 2006.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID