House Judiciary votes to repeal Missoula and Bozeman policies
Much has happened this morning and we will get you a more in-depth email soon. We want to update you on an attempt by the House Judiciary Committee to overturn the Missoula Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, and similar inclusive policies now in place in Bozeman. We also have an immediate request for action that follows at the end of this message.
After decades of the state failing to protect LGBT Montanans, the House Judiciary Committee decided this morning to take away the right of localities to protect their own residents. HB 517 by Havre's Rep. Kris Hansen passed on a 13-7 vote, with Helena's Rep. Liz Bangarter joining all six Democrats on the committee voting against it.
Localities have the right and the legal ability to go beyond the Montana Human Rights Act. The Montana Human Rights Act sets the floor. It does not set the ceiling. Cities have the authority to establish ordinances and policies that protect and value members of their communities that have faced a history of discrimination.
That is exactly what the City of Missoula did when it passed its Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in April of 2010.
This will repeal not only the Missoula ordinance - but existing policies and resolutions that other cities have passed to protect their residents. People from across the state came to speak out in opposition (Helena, Cardwell, Butte, Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman, Missoula, Sidney and Opportunity, MT all came to the Capitol on Friday to stand in opposition to HB 516) - and their testimony was not only limited to ten minutes total, but cut off.
We have to believe that basic Montana values of fairness and dignity will prevail - if not in the House, then in the Senate.
We need you to contact your Representative immediately. You can use this easy webform to have your message delivered:
Please remember to be respectful, be direct - and share how this bill will personally impact you. Here are several talking points for your message:
- After Montana has failed to protect LGBT Montanans at the state level for decades, localities have decided to take the initiative and protect their own residents. This is the right of cities and counties across Montana. The state sets a minimum standard for protections against discrimination. Cities and Counties can expand protected classes.
- LGBT Montanans deserve to live their lives and fully participate in their communities without fear of losing their jobs or housing because or their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
- It is the right of cities and towns to take care of their residents and protect them from discrimination. The state of Montana should be in the business of extending these protections to LGBT Montanans, not repealing these protections.
- Montanans value diversity and equality, and we know our strength as a community is based on treating each other fairly and with respect. Protections like the ones now in place in Bozeman and Missoula match our public policy to our values.
Montana Human Rights Network