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Meridian is neighborly, welcoming  a great place to raise a family and to live out your faith.

But now the city council is considering a measure  being pushed around the country by the LGBT lobby  that would punish people for their ideas and beliefs.

The stated purpose of the ordinance is to provide protections for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. But in reality, these types of regulations bring disunity where there is unity. They divide friends — and at times, even families. They have even been used as a sword against people of faith across the nation.

Many Meridians have been led to believe that the latest version of the proposed ordinance protects people of faith. Sadly, the language gives shallow nods to religious protections that already exist in federal and state law, while sending a strong message to anyone in Meridian who doesn’t work for a religious organization that their faith isn’t welcome outside the walls of their church or home.

Jack Phillips, a cake baker in Colorado, is a small business owner who knows what it is like to become the target of his own government because of his faith. Jack was forced to pay large fines and lost much of his business because he declined to create a customized wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony in violation of his deep faith, even though he was willing to make many other items for his LGBTQ friends. He’s now being attacked by his own government again because he declined to create a customized cake celebrating a person’s “gender transition.”

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Another prominent example is florist Barronelle Stutzman in Washington. She had a longtime friend and customer who one day asked her to create floral designs for his same-sex wedding. Barronelle hugged him, referred him to another florist, and shared that she couldn’t design flowers for his wedding against her faith. The state’s law, very similar to the proposal before Meridian’s city council, was used to punish Barronelle for her beliefs. The law put friends at odds with one another, stepped in the way of real relationships, put a local business owner at risk of losing everything, and even gave government the power to turn a law-abiding grandmother and florist into someone deserving of punishment.

This isn’t the way Meridian operates. This isn’t the reputation Meridian wants. And, this isn’t how Meridian treats its small business owners.

Please join Family Policy Alliance of Idaho in asking Meridian’s city council to vote against this ordinance on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m., 33 E. Broadway Ave., Meridian.

Together, let’s keep faith in the people of Meridian — to be who Meridians have always been, kind, warm, loving, and inviting people who are able to have different beliefs yet live and work together.

Brittany Jones is an attorney and policy director for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.

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