City Council Approves Adding Sexual Orientation to Anti Discrimination Policy

2013-01-15T02:15:00Z City Council Approves Adding Sexual Orientation to Anti Discrimination PolicyBy Alison Gene Smith alismith@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Councilman Jim Munn voted against adding the words to the city's personnel policy. He voted "yes." The two votes against were from Suzanne Hawkins and Don Hall. 

TWIN FALLS • The Twin Falls City Council voted Monday night to add sexual orientation to the anti-harassment and discrimination policy for city employees.

The vote does not affect any employers other than the city.

During discussion, City Manager Travis Rothweiler noted that the city already has a policy of no tolerance for harassment.

“Any kind of discrimination, regardless of whether it’s on the list, is harassment,” he said.

Councilwoman Suzanne Hawkins questioned the necessity for adding the words.

“Where do we draw the line?” she said. “If we start specifying sexual orientation, what happens with the next group, and they come along and they want to be included?”

Vice Mayor Don Hall also questioned the addition. The city already has a policy of not allowing discrimination, he said.

“We don’t believe in discrimination, period,” he said. “To me this is more of an exercise in political correctness than anything.”

Councilman Chris Talkington shared the story of his wife being discriminated against when she moved to a new town, and said the council should not be too complacent in thinking that discrimination doesn’t happen here.

“My wife was discriminated against even though the laws were on the books,” he said.

Councilman Shawn Barigar said he agreed the vote was not about giving new rights to people.

“It’s about being sensitive and recognizing a group of citizens who live in our community,” he said. “I don’t think it’s about political correctness or coming up with the next protected class. It’s about a reality.”

Councilwoman Rebecca Mills Sojka said adding the words is a good chance to educate people and raise awareness about discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The important thing for me is as a city is to say plainly that we include that status as a status that we don’t discriminate against,” she said.

Hawkins and Hall voted against the change, while the rest of the council voted for it.

The council also discussed the possibility of bringing the issue up as a city ordinance that would include all employers.

Protecting sexual orientation under government anti-discrimination policies has made headlines in Idaho over the last year after a failed attempt to add the category on a state level at the Idaho Legislature. The cities of Sandpoint and Boise have added the phrase to their policies, and Ketchum’s city council is considering doing the same.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. eszanto
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    eszanto - January 15, 2013 6:59 am
    Cheers to the City of Twin Falls!

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