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Montana Attorney General Asks Court To Uphold State's Gay Marriage Ban

Tim fox montana

On July 17th, Montana attorney general Tim Fox asked a federal court to uphold the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in response to an attempt to overturn the 2004 law, reports Great Falls Trubine

In May, four couples filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the ban denies same-sex couples the protections and benefits of marriage afforded to other residents of the state.

According to Los Angeles TimesFox said that Montanans made their decision in 2004 when they voted for a constitutional provision that “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state." 

Democratic Governor Steve Bullock has expressed his support for the plaintiffs.

Speaking to Great Falls Tribune, Jim Taylor, legal director of Montana’s American Civil Liberties Union, said that the case could take up to a year to resolve.

Same-sex marriage is legal in nineteen states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in other states continue to make their way through the courts.

In June, Bozeman, the fourth-largest city in Montana, voted 4-0 to pass an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, becoming the fourth city in the state to do so.


Bozeman, Montana Unanimously Passes LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Bozeman

Bozeman, Montana voted 4-0 on Monday night to pass an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, becoming the fourth city in the state to do so, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports:

A few dozen people who turned out in support of the ordinance, many wearing white stickers with green lettering that read “Support! Fairness Dignity Security,” sat silently as commissioners swiftly cast their votes for the ordinance. No one spoke during public comment.

The ordinance, which is aimed at protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations, will go into effect in 30 days.

The silence at Monday night’s meeting stood in stark contrast to past meetings where supporters and opponents spent hours voicing their opinions about the ordinance.

Bozeman is the fourth-largest city in Montana, with a population of approximately 40,000 people.


Friday Speed Read: Montana, Gallup on Marriage, Scott Peters, Pocatello, Porterville

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

Ben_ChaseLAWSUIT COMES TO MONTANA:

The ACLU on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court in Montana, challenging that state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. That leaves only two states (North and South Dakotas) that don’t have a federal lawsuit pending against their state ban. In the Montana suit, Rolando v. Fox, three of the four plaintiff couples have obtained marriage licenses in other states. Democratic Governor Steve Bullock issued a statement Thursday, saying, “The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate – not discriminate against – two people who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend their lives together.”

SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE ‘SOLIDIFIED’:

GallupA new Gallup poll, released Wednesday, says that support for allowing same-sex couples to marry has “solidified above the majority level.” The poll of 1,028 adults nationwide between May 8 and 11 found 55 percent believe same-sex marriages should be “recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.” Forty-two percent said “not valid.” “When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68% were opposed to recognizing marriage between two men or two women, with slightly more than a quarter supporting it (27%),” noted the polling group. “Since then, support has steadily grown, reaching 42% by 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it -- a milestone that reached its 10th anniversary this month.”

PetersDRAWING ENDA AS THE LINE IN THE SAND:

A group of LGBT leaders in San Diego issued an open letter Wednesday, supporting a push for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and a vote for U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, the Democratic incumbent representing San Diego (Congressional District 52). Peters supports ENDA, and his openly gay Republican challenger Carl DeMaio has appeared less passionate about it. In November, according to examiner.com, DeMaio told a San Diego State University audience that he supports ENDA but doesn’t think Congress should legislate “social issues.” The May 22 letter, signed by California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, and others states, “Those seeking to support true equality and represent our community must be leaders, and public support and advocacy for this critical civil rights legislation should be the minimum we expect.”

SMALL TOWN FRIENDLY:

Voters in Pocatello, Idaho, voted down a measure Tuesday that was aimed at ending the town’s policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to the Idaho State Journal, the vote was “razor thin.” Out of 9,623 votes cast, the margin of victory was 147 votes.

SMALL TOWN BULLIES: Hamilton

The Porterville City Council meeting attracted a crowd Monday, as many members of the public showed up to express their anger at Mayor Cam Hamilton’s remark last week that child victims of bullying should just “grow a pair” rather than ask for help from the council. The Porterville Recorder said Hamilton walked during the public comment session, to do an interview with CNN. In the CNN interview, he said he wished his remarks had been a “little less colorful,” but he said a proposal to create “safe zones” in schools doesn’t help victims once they leave the safe zones. He said kids need to learn how to “stand up for themselves,” but conceded society should also stand up to bullies. “If in fact we see somebody who is being harassed or is being bullied, we as a society –be it out in the city or in the school itself – have the ability to stand up for the person who is being bullied and just tell the bully, ‘We’re not going to put up with this.’”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Four Couples File Suit Challenging Montana's Ban on Gay Marriage

Mt1 Mt2

The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of four couples in Montana challenging the state's ban on gay marriage, the AP reports:

Ben_ChaseThe Montana suit was being filed in federal court in Great Falls. It lists as plaintiffs four Montana couples who are either unmarried or who were married outside the state.

The lawsuit alleges the ban denies same-sex couples the freedom and dignity afforded to other Montanans, and denies them the state and federal legal protections and benefits that come with marriage.

"We want Aden to grow up knowing that we are a family like any other family," plaintiff Shauna Goubeaux said in a statement of her and wife Nicole's 1-year-old son. "Marriage is part of being a family. By being plaintiffs in this case, we are showing him his mommies will stand up for what is right and stand up for him."

Mt3In addition to Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux, the plaintiffs are Angie and Tonya Rolando; Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl; and Sue Hawthorne and Adel Johnson.

Read the complaint HERE.

See the ACLU's page on the lawsuit HERE.

Governor Steve Bullock released a statement in support of the lawsuit:

"Montanans cherish our freedom and recognize the individual dignity of every one of us. The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate - not discriminate against - two people who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend their lives together.


Montana Anti-Gay Group Rebrands LGBT Non-Discrimination Policies as ‘Forced Participation Ordinances'

Jeremy Hooper over at Good As You points out the Montana Family Foundation’s new tactic of rebranding LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances as “Forced Participation Ordinances” in the hopes of drumming up more opposition.

MffWrites MFF:

What would Montana look like if the government could force you to say something you did not believe, or force you to participate in an activity that violates your conscience? It would forever change who we are as a people, and it’s closer to happening than you may think.

Forced Participation Ordinances (FPOs), or Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDOs) as our opponents like to call them, supposedly ban discrimination of homosexuals, bisexuals and transvestites. FPOs have already passed in Missoula, Helena and Butte, and efforts are underway to pass them in Bozeman, Billings and Dillon, as well. 

The MFF letter goes on to state that the ordinances “trample religious freedom,” “threaten public safety” (no evidence provided) and are ultimately unnecessary:  

We need to remind government officials that there’s a big difference between true tolerance and forced participation.  True tolerance is what we have now.  In fact, Montana is so tolerant that our opponents have trouble pointing to any examples of discrimination.  The Missoula ordinance was passed three years ago and the Helena ordinance was passed nearly two years ago, and neither has been used.  Not even once.  If this becomes state law, Montana’s live-and-let-live attitude will give way to forced participation, and Christians will become targets.


Bozeman, Montana City Council Gives Initial Approval to LGBT Nondiscrimination Ordinance

The Bozeman, Montana City Council voted 4-0 to approve an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance at its meeting last night, NBC Montana reports:

BozemanBefore commissioners could vote, they listened to more than two hours of public comment from members of the community. Around 55 people took to the podium to speak on the ordinance, which would protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

People have been showing up to meetings for months to speak on the topic, but this was the second round of official public comment. The comments ranged from people who were in full support of the ordinance, to those against, and everywhere in between.

The measure was passed following some changes from the mayor regarding religious exemptions, the Helena Independent Record adds:

Commissioners exempted religious schools and corporations from the hiring requirements. They also exempted goods or facilities provided for a service that is primarily religious in nature from the public accommodations requirements.

Commissioners will need to vote one more time at an upcoming meeting before the ordinance becomes law.


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