The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington published an article today about the wave of laws being passed countrywide, and especially in neighboring Utah (!), which ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and titled it ”Some Employers Push To Expand Rights – Idaho Interested In Whether Lack Of Protective Policy Will Affect Recruitment.”
It seems that 15 cities and counties in Utah have enacted such ordinances, although not the state itself. At a panel discussion in Salt Lake City in January, top state business leaders said they want Utah to pass a nondiscrimination law to make it easier for them to do business.
We blogged on May 23, 2012 that “What is compelling about the groundswell of support for these laws, especially in “red states,” is that the local business communities have generally backed them as being ’good for business.’” We quoted the former Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida who, in a full page newspaper ad sponsored by the business group, Jacksonville Civic Council, said that "Businesses won’t relocate here. They won’t come here if we don’t have this thing in the books.”
Now Idaho, a neighbor of Utah, is worried. Idaho recently refused to pass an amendment to its Human Rights Act banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and only one town in Idaho, Sandpoint, has passed such a local nondiscrimination ordinance. Betsy Z. Russell of the Spokesman-Review quotes Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer as stating that Idaho plans to “pay very close attention” to whether commerce or recruitment are affected by the lack of protection for sexual orientation, “because as that issue evolves and develops, we’re going to need to be prepared to respond to it.”
Such laws are “a national trend,” said a University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky, who participated in the Salt Lake City discussion.
Hewlett-Packard, a major employer in Idaho, issued a statement about its own non-discrimination policy that “We believe it has affected our bottom line for the better.”