Ada County Courthouse generic copy

The Ada County Courthouse in Boise.

Ada County Commissioners voted unanimously tonight to ban discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. The ordinance, like those already in effect in Boise and a dozen other cities in the state -- but not in state law -- covers employment, public accommodations and housing.

In approving the measure, the Board of Commissioners stated that every individual in the county has the right to work and earn wages through gainful employment, and seek housing and public accommodations in a non-discriminatory environment, according to a county press release. You can read our full story here at idahopress.com by reporter Thomas Plank; two dozen people testified at the commission's hearing on the ordinance.

“These basic principles of equality should apply to all the residents of Ada County who chose to make this community their home,” said Ada County Commission Chair Kendra Kenyon. “Ada County has been and always will be a welcoming and safe place for all of our friends, neighbors and loved ones regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

The prohibitions against discriminatory acts are intended to supplement state and federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodations and housing. The ordinance includes, but is not limited to, the right to use, rent or purchase real property, and any service commodity or article of personal property offered or sold by any person or establishment to the public.

“The fact of the matter is, this is good governance,” said Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo. “We have talented, creative and incredibly productive residents from every background and walk of life in our community. We want to make sure all these individuals are allowed to prosper and contribute their talents. This is who we are, and it is what makes Ada County such a great place to live and raise a family.”

“I support this measure,” said Commissioner Rick Visser. “When you look at the strides we have made not only in Ada County but statewide it is remarkable. These are the kinds of ethics we teach our children and grandchildren and I am proud to be part of an organization that supports these values.”

The newly adopted ordinance does not apply to religious corporations, associations, educational institutions or societies. Additionally, the new Ada County law does not apply to the United States government, any of its departments or agencies, or the State of Idaho or any of its departments, agencies or political subdivisions, except the county.

Gender identity is defined as appearance, expression or behavior of an individual, regardless of a person’s assigned sex at birth.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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