The bill, which would nullify Missoula, Montana’s Equality Ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination, and would force other municipalities to rely on state law (which doesn’t protect LGBTs) when looking to enact similar statutes, passed the House by a vote of 60-39 and will get a final vote before heading to the Senate.
Sixty Republicans voted for it. All 32 Democrats voted opposed it, joined by seven Republicans. One Republican was absent.
It was the second bill that passed Tuesday to nullify a locally adopted policy in Missoula. Earlier, the House banned enactment of local initiatives such as the one Missoula County voters approved in 2006 to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority of law enforcement. (See related story.)
“It is ironic that the first bill of the day and the last bill of the day both intend to override the expressed will of Missoulians to govern ourselves as we see fit,” said Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula.
Said Rep. Sue Malek, D-Missoula, of the vote on the LGBT bill: “Leave us alone. For heaven’s sake. We’re one little town in a corner of Montana that has nothing to do with you. You know, I mean, why can’t you let people live like they need to live their lives? Why can’t they love who they want to love?”
Bennett, however, told how Missoula’s enactment of the ordinance gave LGBT residents of Missoula hope that is now being dashed.
“It gave those young (LGBT) people who had been beaten up, yelled at and discriminated against day in and day out the dimmest light of hope that maybe someday they might be equal to other Montanans, maybe someday,” he said. “But this bill looks to extinguish that dim light of hope and eliminate an existing right for LGBT Missoulians.”
Shameful. Just shameful.