Sexual discrimination ordinance passes without input from audience

MOSCOW, ID - Monday night, the Moscow City Council passed an ordinance that makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment and housing practices.

Palouse Reporter Rachel Dubrovin shares the details of the new policy, and why some members of the public were upset with the way it was passed.

Once again, Moscow has distinguished itself from most of Idaho's cities.

"I'm very proud of the citizens who communicated with the council," said Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney.

Monday night, the council passed a non-discrimination in employment and housing practices ordinance. It outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as a misdemeanor offense.

"If they will change their conduct to conform with the ordinance, then it can either be reduced to a small, civil penalty, or it can in fact be dismissed," said Moscow City Supervisor Gary Riedner.

When it came time to talk about the ordinance, the mayor was ready for what could have been a heated debate.

"I think that this issue is important enough that it is heard in a public forum," said Chaney.

However the rest of the council decided to forego the discussion and vote on it outright.

"We've talked about this enough," said Moscow Council-member Dan Carscallen.

All six council members voted in favor of the ordinance, but passing it without discussion angered some members of the public.

"That's very, very troubling," said Moscow resident Tim Gresback. "I think it's a very dangerous precedent, and I hope it never happens again."

Gresback said he's happy the ordinance passed, but he came to make his voice heard.

"That has made this a very bittersweet evening," said Gresback.

"It was very saddening and disappointing that as a veteran of the Iraq War, my opinion, among others, was actually not even invited," said Moscow resident Judd Wilson.

Wilson hoped to share his disapproval.

"As a Christian, having seen the devastation that this lifestyle produces, this is bad policy," said Wilson.

While some residents felt like they waited for hours to be denied their right to speak, others were just happy to see the ordinance pass without resistance.

"It's really a great day for Moscow," said Moscow resident Jim Huggins.

Moscow is the fourth city in the state to pass an ordinance protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.