I haven’t seen crowds this size since …

by Pete Talbot

(UPDATE: City Council passes anti-discrimination ordinance on a 10-2 vote. Renee Mitchell and Lyn Hellegard were the two council members to vote against it. Jhwygirl blogged live from council chambers here and here. I went to the rally at Caras Park and then marched to council chambers with the masses.)

It’s been a half-dozen years, since George W.’s war in Iraq, that this many took to the streets of Missoula. City Council is voting on an anti-discrimination ordinance tonight that says people, despite their sexual orientation, still have rights. Amazing concept.

It’s a local issue but I believe it’s more. It’s also about what the Missoula community stands for, and that isn’t the fear and hate that the “Christian” right advances. It’s not the Tea Party rhetoric, either. It’s the opposite of that stuff. It’s about mutual respect and tolerance.

I was impressed by the number of Missoula clergymen and woman who spoke in favor of the ordinance; talking about real Christian values.

I will give the opposition credit, though. It showed up in the face of overwhelming numbers; I’d say 60 pro-discrimination folks to around 500 anti-discrimination folks.

The crowd at the rally and march was diverse, to say the least. Many, many younger people in attendance, which gives me hope.

But it’s late and jhwygirl is capturing the moment better than I so I’ll just leave you with some pictures.

  1. Big Swede

    since……Free hot dogs at Tyler Chevrolet?

    For all you disgusted Missoluians, Billings will welcome you with open arms.

    Get out while the getting’s good.

  2. petetalbot

    I’m disappointed, Swede. Usually your rejoinders to my posts are a little more thoughtful.

    For starters, I don’t believe that most in Billings would welcome the “disgusted Missoulians” with open arms. Wasn’t it the Magic City that embraced the “Not in Our Town” campaign when bigots attacked synagogues and defaced Jewish tombstones?

    But then, I suppose, I won’t mourn the exit of Missoulians who are “disgusted” that the LGBT community gets the same rights as everyone else, and they: “Get out while the getting’s good.”

    • Big Swede

      You’d call it voting with your feet.

      Fortunately a move outside Missoula city limits is all that’s required even though we’d love more right minded people.

      But Missoula’s chosen path is a microcosm of larger urban rot. Joel Kotkin talks about city decay on a larger scale.

      “…The result of these unfortunate political decisions was to leave many urban cores with nothing but some often largely vacant office towers, Potemkin tourist districts, lousy public schools, ineffective police departments, and blocks of decrepit neighborhoods where residents are more dependent on government checks or jobs, or criminal activity, than on paid employment. The results of this decoupling of cities from the global economy has been all too evident. Wealthy elites who own or patronize restaurants, high-end hotels, loft developments, and cultural institutions have done fine. Younger, single, and gay residents of cities have enjoyed themselves. But for working- and middle-class families with children, cities have become hostile environments.”

      I did give this some thought.

      • The phenomenon you refer to is the rich getting richer and the middle class disappearing due to wealthy corporate lobbying which has corrupted our government.

        Scape-goating human rights is part of the astroturfing campaign they propogate to keep us all diverted while they tighten their grip.

        You are not thinking for yourself swede….just following their game plan.

        • Big Swede

          Reread Kotkin’s last sentence.

          • problembear

            yeah, bs. like i said, it has nothing to do with gay rights. it has to do with the middle class disappearing economically from america. gay rights is a bauble to keep you diverted while the wealthy elite continue to strip away everything that isn’t nailed down and then get you guys to run interference for them.

  3. problembear

    many thanks to melinda gopher for being the only democratic candidate for us congress in montana gutsy enough to speak out for human rights for her fellow montanans.

    i am sure that mcdonald and gernant were counseled by their handlers to steer clear for political expediency. thanks a lot guys.

    give me a candidate who says what she means and means what she says. we need melinda to face off against rehberg this november if we are going to stand a chance of winning….


  4. petetalbot

    A comment for pb and one for Swede.

    Thanks, pb, for the link. Great to see Melinda at Huffington. I do like that woman. Marched with her, briefly, at the anti-discrimination rally.

    I did see McDonald on Main St., near his campaign office, earlier in the day and he said he was going to the rally, and for all I know, Gernant was in the crowd, too. Although I don’t believe either spoke at the rally or council, I’m not going to disparage those guys, yet.

    But, pb, you definitely got it right and Swede got it wrong on the cause of cities’ decline. It’s ridiculous to peg “urban rot” on “these unfortunate political decisions.” Is this Kotkin dude saying anti-discrimination laws led to the death of our cities?

    The more progressive cities that invested in their urban neighborhoods are better off than those that encouraged suburban sprawl. It’s the progressive cities that embrace diversity and sustainability that are hanging in there during this recession. Think Portland v. Phoenix.

    I posit this: what killed most of the bigger cities and their middle-class neighborhoods was the loss of blue collar jobs when corporations shipped their manufacturing to distant lands.

    And the cities that will thrive in the future are those that support diversity and creativity. There’s a major paradigm shift in the works and the places that encourage change and a new way of thinking will survive. The old, and dare I say, Republican model will contribute to our decline.

    • JC

      BS is trying to slide this thread into nothing more than a debate on the causes and outcomes of gentrification, which I think is rather despicable move at this point.

      This sort of attitude tries to place blame for changes in the inner city on other forces (lgbt rights movements, politics, the poor, etc.) than the ones really at work: changing demography, economic disruptions, structural poverty and inequity, free market opportunism and elitism, etc.

      BS would have us blame democracy for the plight of the inner city by casting parties as at war with each other, by throwing out statements like Kotkins: “Younger, single, and gay residents of cities have enjoyed themselves. But for working- and middle-class families with children, cities have become hostile environments” in order to create or amplify the illusion of a rift in America.

      I’d say that the democracy displayed, and the overwhelming majority support for the ordinance buries BS’ and Kotkins premises. But it is out of such that the practice of wedge politics is born.

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