Bonners Ferry Mayor Dick Staples tonight broke a tie vote in favor of removing the words “sexual orientation, or gender identity” from the city’s vision statement and replace it with text offered by councilman Ron Smith that replaces the phrase with the word “all.”
Prior to his reading of the motion, council woman Valerie Thompson made an impassioned appeal to retain the language, saying it was a reminder to the city’s public servants to act without prejudice, to not leave anyone out but to serve all with kindness and acceptance.
“God does not forsake anyone,” she said. “People do.”
Smith noted that the city was not required by law to have a vision statement, and, after hearing comment from so many who requested the opportunity to speak that the meeting was moved the the Becker Auditorium at Bonners Ferry High School, he said he didn’t feel words that brought such divisiveness were needed, especially as federal law currently spells out those against whom discrimination is prohibited.
Council president Rick Alonzo agreed, saying he went so far as to look up the word all, “every member or part of,” and said the word is obviously all-inclusive, to include those lifestyles specified by federal law to include those who feel they have always been left out.
There were 33 people signed up to speak, with just five speaking in favor while the rest cited reasons including religious beliefs that such language invited sin and abomination to “it’s not the job of the city council to tell me who I should welcome” to this is the heart of the redoubt with Christians and patriots converging who, when they arrive, will not appreciate a city government defying God and inviting perversity and evil.
Before acting on the item, Mayor Dick Staples made it clear that no further public hearings would be held on the subject, and that the council’s decision to come would be final.
After discussion, Alonzo seconded Smith’s motion and both voted “aye,” Thompson and councilman Adam Arthur voted “nay” to bring a tie, which Staples broke, voting “aye.”