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Bill to prevent LGBT protections passes first hurdle in Montana Senate

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A bill that would prohibit local municipalities from enacting ordinances that include sexual orientation as a protected class from discrimination, passed its first hurdle in the Montana Senate on Friday.

KAJ-TV reports:

Representative Kris Hansen’s bill would prevent local governments from protecting certain classes of people who are not protected under state law. Legislators amended the bill to apply only to local ordinances and not to resolutions or policies.

The measure would effectively nullify the city of Missoula’s 2010 ordinance that protects its LGBT citizens from employment, housing and other forms of discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The 2009 Montana Human Rights Act does not include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Opponents say the bill is targeted against the gay community and would meddle with a local government’s right to govern itself.

“Localities have the right and the legal ability to go beyond the Montana Human Rights Act,” said the Montana Human Rights Network, in a statement last month.

“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.”

The bill passed along party lines in a 5-4 vote in the Senate Local Government Committee, and now it’s headed to the Senate floor for further debate. The bill passed in the House last month.

Also on Friday, a Montana legislative committee killed a bill that would have decriminalized homosexual sex — keeping a law on the books that was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in 1997, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

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Filed under: Montana

8 more reader comments:

  1. Montana where the men are men and the sheep are scared..Its easy to see that the Idiot Lobby is alive and well in Montana,I don’t see Gov Schweitzer signing this into law however.

    Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 2:35pm
  2. Wat duz that mean?

    Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 2:36pm
  3. What a shame – when EQUAL does not mean EQUAL!

    Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 4:37pm
  4. How is this different than the law overturned in Colorado years ago?

    Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 5:02pm
  5. Gearing up for elections. Bggest issues are abortion and us queers as far as middle America is concerned. It’s a diversion tactic that a lot of people are too blind to see. Meanwhile, they screw the people over who voted for them. Middle America needs to wake up. What’s going on in WI is a step in the right direction.

    Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 9:47pm
  6. It is different from the Colorado law in that it does not single out a particular group of people and prevent them from seeking protection from discrimination at the local level. Rather, it is a general law that says local governments may not pass local non-discrimination laws that either cover more classes of people nor provide greater redress for wrongdoing than at the state level. So, I’m guessing (without really knowing what is in the state law) that a local government could also not pass a law to prevent discrimination on the basis of weight, being married or divorced, having children, being a student, being on welfare, or anything that a number of other local governments in other states have added to their nondiscrimination ordinances.

    Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011 at 8:54am
  7. So we are now passing laws that make it illegal to pass laws preventing discrimination.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 2:03pm
  8. The localities will bring legal action stating that their municipality is harmed by the enactment of this law. The MT Supreme Court I am sure will in fact reject this law and overturn it. Of that I am pretty confident!

    Posted on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 10:40am