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Pocatello Council Hears Emotional Testimony Over Local Gay Rights Law

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

POCATELLO, Idaho - This city in the heart of Idaho's Mormon country held a four-hour public hearing Thursday on whether to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians. Pocatello is one of a growing number of cities in Idaho that are adopting local rules that protect sexual orientation and gender identity.

Parents and grandparents spoke about the fears they have for their gay or lesbian family members. Gloria Mayer said she's been hiding her identity for years.

“I am 63 years old ... and I'm gay. That is the first time I have said that publicly," Mayer told members of the city council.

People speaking in favor of Pocatello's ordinance far out-numbered those speaking against it at the meeting. But many of the opponents, like Heidi Barlow, worried the rule goes too far in its criminal sanctions for employers and landlords.

“I don't think that people who want to stand up for their beliefs are haters,” Barlow said.

Others worried a provision about public accommodations would allow men to use women's bathrooms.

The city council plans to make a decision on the ordinance at their meeting in two weeks.