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Proposed nondiscrimination ordinance in Pocatello inspires panel discussion

Pocatello’s proposed nondiscrimination ordinance has been a hot topic since it was first discussed.

On Wednesday evening, the public was able to attend a panel discussion to get questions about the ordinance answered.

The panel included James Ruchti, attorney at Ruchti and Beck and former state representative; Rev. Barbara Condon, pastor, Emmaus Lutheran Community, Idaho Falls; Dr. Tracie Hitter, counselor, ISU Center for Counseling and Testing; Brenda Stanley, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Portneuf Medical Center; and Dr. H. Wayne Schow, ISU professor emeritus, English. The moderator for the evening wasDr. David Adler, director of the Andrus Center on Public Policy at Boise State University.

The main point of this discussion was to tell the community that this ordinance is going to help everybody in Pocatello.

Any family or business that is looking to move to Pocatello will be able to tell what kind of place it is by looking at what it’s doing to protect its citizens.

The panel discussion in Pocatello encouraged understanding and promoted acceptance when it comes to commerce and religious beliefs.

The Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship, the Pocatello branch of the NAACP and 2Great4Hate all sponsored the event.

The ordinance in question will add terms that a person cannot be fired due to gender identity or sexual orientation.

“It’s not making them change their beliefs.”said Susan Matsuura, 2Great4Hate assistant facilitator. “It’s just making them treat people fairly.”

One panelist said losing a job is not the worst that can happen, but then referred to the recent beating of two gay men.

“I feel we should be outraged that our community is not outraged,” said Brenda Stanley, a panelist.

Stanley says one of the main reasons for being on the panel is because the subject is close to her heart.

“It’s as a mother that I am often afraid of my son walking to work or just being with his friends,” Stanley said.

Matsuura says this ordinance protects everybody, because everybody has a sexual and gender identity.

“This is an ordinance that is for all of us. Because my sexual orientation is that I’m straight,” Matsuura said. “Somebody else’s sexual orientation is different. It protects me as well as them.”

Another panelist discussed his own turmoil as a member of the LDS faith. He stated that his understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ did not say to discriminate.

“He focused on inclusion, rather than exclusion. Jesus did not champion the privileged majority of his time,” Dr. Wayne Schow said. “Rather, he welcomed those less privileged, less understood, those more marginalized.”

Some people used the question session to discuss their beliefs that this ordinance is just another step that will lead to other behaviors, like incestuous marriage, polygamy, and even bestiality.

However, the majority of people in attendance seemed to feel that this ordinance was to simply help make things equal for everybody in our community.

The Pocatello City Council will be holding public hearings on the nondiscrimination ordinance soon.

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