IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls City Council voted unanimously Thursday to expand its current LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinance by including language prohibiting discrimination in public areas.
“It’s not giving anybody special privileges or rights, it extends rights to everybody,” City Councilman Thomas Hally said during the City Council meeting.
Idaho Falls originally passed its anti-discrimination ordinance in 2013. It prohibited discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation in employment and housing but did not include public spaces.
The amended ordinance says every person, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, or identity, has the right to fully enjoy “places open to the general public for resort, accommodation, assemblage and amusement.”
“This ordinance was crafted very carefully to prohibit it from being viewed as a means for frivolous lawsuits. And its penalties even allow for good faith mediation and other means to resolve these issues,” Council President Michelle Ziel-Dingman said.
The council did make one change to the amendment by taking out a provision allowing a person to be sent to jail for violating the ordinance twice within five years.
Violation of the ordinance is now only punishable by a fine.
Idaho Falls City Attorney Randall Fife explained that because the ordinance doesn’t include jail time as a possible punishment, law enforcement would not be able to arrest someone for violating it.
“They would cite and release or (issue a) summons, but they would not be able to make a physical arrest of the person,” Fife said.
City spokesman Bud Cranor said the amended ordinance will go into effect on May 20.