By Bella Pratt, Blue Sky Graduate Assistant, MBA Candidate
Just a couple of weeks into February, a historic ruling unanimously passed for Ada County: a Non-Discrimination Ordinance. All three county commissioners voted to pass this new regulation (Inglet, 2020). Thanks to the commissioners’ dedication to anti-discrimination, this ordinance furthers Blue Sky Institute’s vision of Idaho being a “welcoming, inclusive place of prosperity for all people.”
“I believe we have a moral imperative to address discrimination in our communities; however, we also have an economic imperative,” Commissioner Diana Lachinado stated. “To attract and retain the best and brightest minds, we have to ensure that we create safe and welcoming communities – this ordinance is just one small step in that direction.”
The purpose of this ruling is for everyone to be treated equally and fairly, and to ensure that, no matter one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression, everyone is able to fully utilize citizen benefits and have access to equal opportunities (“Ordinance No”). The ordinance bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as gender identity and expression, within employment, public accommodations, and housing in the area (“Ordinance Summary”). “Discriminatory employment practices are detrimental because they impede the social and economic progress of a County by preventing all of the County citizens from contributing to the cultural, spiritual, social and commercial life of the community. The contributions… are essential to the County’s growth, vitality, and prosperity” (“Ordinance No”).
The regulation went into effect on March 13th. It is important to note that it only applies to areas of Ada County that are unincorporated, and does not affect places like Boise and Meridian that already have city ordinances (Inglet, 2020). There are also certain organizations that it does not apply to, such as religious corporations and the United States government (“Ordinance No”). Currently, Idaho lacks any statewide protections with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. However, there are twelve Idaho cities that have similar ordinances, such as Boise and Meridian. As well, Latah County has a non-discrimination ordinance in place, but it only applies to county employees (Inglet, 2020).
If it is found that someone has violated the ruling, there is a $250 fine for the first violation. For a second violation within five years of the first one, there is a misdemeanor charge, which could mean up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine (“Ordinance Summary”).
“‘In many ways it’s about the message we send’, Lachiando said. ‘Again, I’ve heard from the business community, heard from affected parties — I’m really thinking about those kids and families who want to know they’re accepted and welcomed in this community’” (as cited in Inglet, 2020).
As of March 13th, that welcoming message we send has rung a little louder and a little clearer throughout Ada County, due to our county commissioners’ hard work on passing this new non-discrimination ordinance.
Inglet, M. (2020). Ada county adopts non-discrimination ordinance: ‘A clear message of inclusivity and tolerance’. KTVB.com. Retrieved from https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/local/ada-county-adopts-non-discrimination-ordinance/277-9f45fbfd-15e1-4912-8044-6641fbb57a89
“Ordinance no (1st infraction and subsequent misdemeanor)”. (2020).
“Ordinance summary (first violation infraction and subsequent misdemeanor)”. (2020).