On Tuesday, Meridian City Council passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, joining 13 other Idaho municipalities with similar laws.
The ordinance passed four to two. It protects Meridian’s LGBTQ population in housing, employment and public accommodations. Federal and Idaho state laws protect against discrimination based on age, religion, race, gender, country of origin and disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.
More than 150 people attended the public hearing at the city council meeting according to The Idaho Press.
Add the Words Idaho, an advocacy group that fights for these laws to pass, helped prepare residents before testifying at the hearing. Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln of Add the Words says that passing city ordinances like the one in Meridian is a first step to getting statewide equality.
"The fact that cities are taking it upon themselves to get it done," says Gaona-Lincoln. "We’re hoping that it signals to the legislature that their constituents in these bases are telling them 'hey, look at us, we’re getting this done at a city level and you need to get it done at a state level.'"
According to the new law, religious entities will be exempt from the ordinance. Violators of the ordinance could get a $250 fine.
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