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Opinion

Editorial: CdA sends right message with vote for human rights

On Tuesday, just before the clock struck midnight, Coeur d’Alene joined Sandpoint, Moscow, Boise and Ketchum as the only Idaho cities to pass an ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Thus, the Lake City struck another blow for human rights, just as it did with its resistance to the white supremacists who tried to turn this scenic enclave into their ugly bunker of hate.

The long hours of impassioned public testimony that preceded the 5-1 Coeur d’Alene City Council vote underscores again the Legislature’s stonewalling. The issue has yet to get a hearing, let alone a vote. Meanwhile, Coeur d’Alene became the latest town to extend basic fairness to its gay and transgendered residents by prohibiting discrimination in housing, the workplace and public accommodations. That this occurred in a conservative city makes it more noteworthy, though by no means unique. Fifteen communities in red-state Utah have passed similar ordinances.

Resistance to gay rights is crumbling fast. Washington was the seventh state to approve gay marriage, but five states have since followed suit. Meanwhile, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, has been found unconstitutional in several courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court is currently mulling its fate. The noxious “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been drummed out of the military.

Most nations have a national policy on gay rights, but it is debated community by community and state by state in this country, so the arguments are repeated over and over. Councilman Steve Adams was the lone dissenter, asking, “What’s the rush?”

To which we’d reply: What was the holdup?

There are no new points to be made. There is no new information to digest. Adams said he rejected the ordinance on religious grounds. But the Bible won’t be rewritten, and he isn’t likely to change his interpretation. So why slow down?

Besides, as Councilman Dan Gookin said, “I don’t think we can actually legislate from the Bible up here.”

Those who worry about slippery slopes and implausible what-if scenarios need only check communities where such discrimination has already been banned. What has happened in, say, Sandpoint or Spokane that justifies these fears? The answer is not much, except that employers cannot fire workers for being gay, landlords cannot kick out tenants due to their sexual orientation and businesses cannot turn away customers for being gay.

A former pastor told the council there is such a thing as “good discrimination,” but he failed to persuade them of the merits of this particular bigotry.

Council members Gookin, Mike Kennedy, Ron Edinger, Woody McEvers and Deanna Goodlander are to be commended for their courageous votes, and for sending a strong message that Coeur d’Alene remains a beacon for human rights.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.

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