The Montana House Judiciary Committee has voted 13-7 to advance a bill that would kill Missoula's LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance and prevent local municipalities in the state from enacting similar ordinances, instead forcing them to recognize state laws, which currently don't recognize LGBTs.
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.
(NOTE: I believe that Montana HRN is referring to HB 516 and not 517) They are urging Montanans to contact their lawmakers the bill.
The panel also voted to table HB 514, a bill that would have expanded the Montana Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation.
Info on how to do that, AFTER THE JUMP...
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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.