The Moscow City Council is considering an ordinance to make housing and job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity a criminal offense. Boise passed a similar ordinance in December.
Councilor Wayne Krauss asked rhetorically whether someone bringing monkeys into a business and being refused service would require a discrimination ordinance for monkey owners.
City Attorney Randy Fife laid out for the council's Administrative Committee details of his draft ordinance. An employer would not be allowed to refuse to hire or fire a person because of sexual orientation or gender identity, or to deny an employee advancement or training on that basis. The ordinance would also prohibit businesses from refusing to serve a person or to sell, buy, rent, repair, maintain or improve property based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Exceptions include religious entities, other governments and agencies, boarding houses, private clubs or institutions, and two-family dwellings, such as duplexes, where the property owner or a relative lives in one of the units.
Krauss asked whether businesses, such as restaurants, which often display signs indicating their right to refuse service to anyone, could refuse to serve someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without disclosing that as the reason. Fife said if someone felt that was the reason for denial of service, that person could file a complaint under the ordinance.
Krauss said he didn't like the idea of the city being forced to react to a continuous list of discriminatory grievances.
"The question is, where does it stop?" Krauss said. "Why doesn't the 14th Amendment cover the whole darn thing?"
The amendment says, "No State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Fife said he prepared his draft after reviewing laws already on the books in Sandpoint, Boise and Salt Lake City and said he favored Boise's. The proposed ordinance would fill a gap in the federal and state human rights acts.
The Idaho Statesman contributed.