We have been alerting you about the Meridian City Council’s plans to present an ordinance that would provide special protections in law based on a peron’s sexual orientation or gender identity status. We challenged you to speak out, and you did!! Hundreds of you contacted your councilmembers, and at Tuesday night’s public hearing in City Hall, the clear majority of the packed room was opposed to the ordinance.

We can’t thank you enough!

Sadly, at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday night, four of the six councilmembers voted in favor of the ordinance and against religious freedom. Ty Palmer and Treg Bernt stood up in the face of much opposition, listened to your voices, and voted against the ordinance. If you would like to thank them, you can do so here.

What does this mean for Meridian residents?

The ordinance passed by the Council gives the Meridian city government the power to punish people of faith criminally for living out their faith. This means that instead of allowing Meridians to live in community together, even with different beliefs, the government could punish people for living out their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman—or that a boy can’t “become” a girl.

The language in the ordinance is very similar to the law that gave the Colorado government the power to punish cake baker Jack Phillips for declining to design a customized wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. It’s also very similar to the law that gave the Washington government the power to punish grandmother and florist Barronelle Stutzman when she declined to design flowers for a same-sex ceremony—even though she’d served the same customer before for many other occasions! In fact, that customer is her friend.

So what can you do about this?

I know this information may seem disheartening, but hundreds of you stood together to write to the Council or even personally testify against the ordinance. This is encouraging!

And just because the council members didn’t listen to the voice of the people doesn’t mean the story is over. In fact, you still hold the most powerful tool in your democracy tool belt – voting. When the Councilmembers who voted in favor of this ordinance are up for election, it is vital that you let your voice be heard with your vote. In fact, local politics is where you can make the most difference! Vote. Pray about running for election yourself to serve in the ministry of public office. Help recruit others to run for election. And encourage friends and family to vote.

By the grace of God, we live in a country where one bad bill or one court ruling does not define our destiny. You have the ability to speak out and to ensure that your state remains the family-friendly place that it has always been. Once again, thank you for making your voice heard in Meridian.

May God bless and strengthen you as you continue to stand firm,

Brittany Jones, Esq.

Policy Director, Family Policy Alliance of Idaho

P.S. Channel 6 covered the Meridian City Council meeting Tuesday night. You can check out their coverage and my interview here.