With the flurry of court decisions striking down marriage bans for same-sex couples around the country, you might’ve missed the story coming out of Pocatello, Idaho, but it’s a biggie.
Voters- in a largely Republican primary- in a small, conservative city– just voted to uphold a comprehensive city law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Yup, that just happened.
And it happened in Idaho, by far one of the reddest, most conservative states in the union. A 2011 Gallup Poll ranked Idaho as second only to Utah as the most Republican state in the Union. Conservative Pocatello politics are actually more aligned to that of Utah’s because of proximity.
Pocatello resident and mother of a gay son Susan Matsuura, summarized what was at stake powerfully:
Mothers are endowed with important qualities that affect our psyches. We want to protect our children from harm and we want them to be loved and accepted by others. Naturally, when my son first came out to me years ago, it was my recommendation to him to keep silent, tell no one. My fear? Someone, somewhere who hates gays will hurt or harm him or will judge him unfairly for a characteristic that has nothing to do with his ability to be a productive member of our society…That was my motivation to work so hard on this issue – to pass a law that prevents discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity in Pocatello and to make our city a welcoming place.
On Tuesday, voters upheld that law and kept Pocatello a welcoming city. The result in Pocatello illustrates that voters around the country, in communities large and small, liberal and conservative, believe in fairness and equality. And despite what some media pundits say, LGBT equality is not a partisan issue.
We applaud the residents of Pocatello for standing up for fairness and equality and for sending the nation a reminder that more can be and should be done to achieve equality under the law.