April 9, 2013 Leave a comment
The passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Pocatello maybe still to close to call, but that doesn’t mean its supporters are just sitting around waiting for a final vote.
City council members heard from dozens of supporters of the ordinance last week during a public testimony meeting. According to the Chair of the Human Relations Advisory Committee for the city of Pocatello and a key supporting figure of the law, Susie Matsuura, approximately 200 residents turned out last Thursday to hear testimony and speak in favor of the ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations.
“Just the numbers of people who turned out last night took my breath away, and their impassioned testimony – oh my. I can’t think of the words to praise them for their bravery and passion in coming forward to share a very personal part of their lives,” said Matsuura in a press release.
Matsuura said she “urges all to thank the Pocatello City Council and Mayor for the opportunity to speak out on this important issue. The city leaders took the time to really hear the voices and see the “beating hearts” of some of their most vulnerable constituents.”
During the meeting State Senator Roy Lacey, D-District 29, spoke in favor of the ordinance, telling the council members he believed the measure would benefit the community as a whole.
Former city council woman and state representative, Donna Boe, also spoke. She said she empathized with the council as they deliberate their decision, but she encouraged them to view the measure favorably.
The meeting was filled with several emotional moments. Despite the fact that they could lose their jobs and their housing, four residents “came out” publicly for the first time to support the measure, including Gloria Mayer, a 63-year old grandma. Mayer noted, “I am gay. That is the first time I have said that publicly. It is not that I’m embarrassed to be gay. But I have always felt that who I love is nobody’s business. ‘Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in,’ so here I am.”
Following the meeting, supporters were encouraged to send notes of thanks to the city council members. A Facebook group set up to keep citizens informed about the ordinance is also encouraging folks to show their support by taking the following steps:
1. Plan to come to the next city council meeting on April 18, city hall, 6 p.m., earlier if you want to get a seat — they need to see our beating hearts and see our faces — AGAIN. We are real people with lives.
2. Write letters and emails, even very short ones that just say, “pass the ordinance” to the city council and if you want, the mayor.
3. Make one-on-one appointments with Councilmen Jim Johnston and Steve Brown. Let them hear from you, your personal story.