Mistie Tolman has never been fired for being gay, but she long lived with the fear of being found out while working at a day-care center in Boise.
Tolman told the Boise City Council on Tuesday that she didnt keep pictures of her children at work and struggled to answer questions from co-workers about her personal life.
Worrying every day that you might slip and accidentally tip someone off that youre gay is a burden that no one should have to live with, Tolman said.
Tolman was one of dozens who spoke in a crowded Statehouse auditorium during a public hearing for a proposed city ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in the city based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Though support was overwhelming Tuesday night, at least one person spoke in support of traditional marriage and warned of the dangers of sodomy. Boise resident Curt Vieselmeyer urged the council to reject the ordinance, saying it infringes on his religious freedom and is not necessary.
I do not believe this is an issue in our city. I believe that this is a stirring of the pot, Vieselmeyer said.
The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance Dec. 4. If its approved, Boise will be the second city in Idaho to prohibit employers, housing agents and other businesses from discriminating against employees, renters, leasers or customers because theyre gay or transgender.
Religious organizations are exempt, and the ordinance includes penalties for false reporting.
Sandpoint passed an ordinance in December. In February, an Idaho Senate committee rejected even introducing a proposed statewide law, which would have prompted a public hearing on whether to add discrimination protections for gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals to the Idaho Human Rights Act.
Tolman was chairperson of the statewide Add the Words campaign that supported the failed proposal. She told councilors that their support for the ordinance means so much to so many people.
It sends a message of hope out to the city and to the community that Im not sure we can begin to understand yet, Tolman said.
Rich Demarest, dean of St. Michaels Cathedral, told the council about a conversation he had last week with members of the Trey McIntyre Project about why they choose Boise as a home base. Passing the ordinance should encourage more diversity in Boise by showing its a safe city for everyone.
No one in Boise, Idaho, in my opinion, should ever worry about their security, nor should any citizen ever worry about whether our city laws will uphold their civil rights, Demarest said.
Boise Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan said she was motivated to push for the ordinance with Councilwoman Lauren McLean after hearing that some people who were targets of hate crimes were reluctant to contact police. Those people feared being terminated if they had to explain to their employers why they had to miss work for court.
McLean said Boise is a city where everyone is treated equally, and we as a council have the opportunity to make that clear by approving this ordinance.
Meghann M. Cuniff: 377-6418