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North Idaho County A Study In Contrasts On Gay Rights Views

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

Idaho's conflicting views on gay rights is playing out in the northern part of the state. A committee in Coeur d'Alene Tuesday advanced an anti-discrimination ordinance. Meanwhile the sheriff of the same county is threatening to drop a Boy Scout charter because the group voted to allow gay members.

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger told the Coeur d'Alene Press that the new policy promotes “a lifestyle that is in violation of state law.” That's because Idaho still has an anti-sodomy law on the books, even though the U.S. Supreme Court declared such laws unconstitutional in 2003.

At the same time, Coeur d’Alene Councilman Mike Kennedy proposed a local ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I am a Roman Catholic," Kennedy said. "There are elements of this discussion that are of concern to members of my church. But there is one that is not: That every person should be treated equally under the law and in our society.”

The committee Kennedy chairs voted two-to-one to send the full city council an ordinance modeled on Boise’s.

Kennedy’s proposal attracted many opponents who testified it would trample on religious liberties.