BOISE -- Members of the Boise City Council heard a proposal for a controversial non-discrimination ordinance on Tuesday in front of a packed room at the Idaho Statehouse.
At times, the testimony was emotional. There was a line out the door, and also an overflow room for those who came for the reading. Testimony went on late into Tuesday night.
If passed, the ordinance would protect Boiseans from discrimination in matters of employment, housing and all public accommodation due to gender identity or sexual orientation.
Council members say too often people fear reporting discrimination because they do not want to be fired a job, or kicked out of the house they rent. The council says that's bad for the local economy because many businesses frown upon a lack of diversity in their community.
Local gay and lesbian groups say it's about time this kind of ordinance hit the books.
The council heard from many in support of the proposed ordinance, but there were also those in a section of the room who shared their views against it.
“That is just another indication of the city trying to implement or create law which they have no authority to do to try and control the people, and it’s another infringement upon ones rights,” said Boise resident, Lee Arthur Rice.
Others say the law is important because it protects civil rights.
“I think what you are seeing is a group of people who are finally getting the chance to stand in front of an elected body, and tell their story," said Mistie Tolman, co founder of the Add the Words Campaign. "So, they are coming out in droves to tell them what it’s like to not have those protections.”
City of Boise Spokesperson Adam Park said the majority of the people that came to testify Tuesday were in support of passing the law.
The proposed ordinance now goes to a second reading on November 27. There's a third reading December 4, and that's when the council is expected to vote on the ordinance. If passed, the law would take effect on January 1, 2013.
A social media site sparked a crowd of supporters to attend Tuesday's meeting.