Archive for the ‘LGBT civil rights’ Category

by jhwygirl

For nearly 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been authorized and reauthorized – twice – by Congress and signed by three different U.S. presidents into law. The latest reauthorization, though, has met some bumps. Guess where: House Republicans.

In late April, the Senate passed a reauthorization of the VAWA that included protections for LGBTQ and Native American survivors of violence – on a bipartisan vote. That reauthorization was not without it’s Tea Party attacks, though: Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson (Texas) joined together for an amendment that modified or eliminated protections for female immigrants, Native women and those in same-sex relationships. It also would have eliminated the ability of tribal courts to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. It failed.

Iowa has a fast-growing Native American population. Texas, given that it borders Mexico, has an extremely large immigrant population. Native American women violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average, while Grassley charged that tribal courts were “unconstitutional.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also offered an amendment – wishing to increase mandatory minimum sentences. Advocates for the VAWA, though, didn’t support that amendment due to the believe that it would result in survivors of violence becoming more reluctant to report incidents. This, too, failed. No big government hypocrisy there/snark.

Certainly you can see how Kay, Chuck & John were looking out for their constituencies.

Well, the House Tea Party crowd – including Montana’s own Denny “don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya” Rehberg passed its own version of the VAWA, pulling back in the Senate Tea Party amendments – on a largely party-line vote.

Denny never did look out for Montanans. ‘Nuf said about that.

TOMORROW, Save Wiyabi, the Salish-Kootenai College’s chapter of the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, and Montana’s very fabulous Western Native Voice are sponsoring an action day in Pablo to raise awareness on the importance of the VAWA, and its importance to the Native American community.

The action begins at 11, with everyone meeting at 11 a.m. at the bridge on campus. Lauren Chief Elk, founder of the Wiyabi Project, is one of the speakers, and information will be available for those looking for more information.

The VAWA is important. It’s disturbing that, after so many years of bipartisan support, that this act protecting women has become a political football. That Tea Party Republicans (like Denny Rehberg) thought to remove protections for Native Americans, immigrants and lgbtq is even more repulsive.

Lauren Chief Elk wrote an excellent piece detailing the importance of the VAWA, especially to the Native American communities. It includes numerous informative links along with case law on the VAWA – I highly recommend it, especially for any legislator here in Montana that might want to attempt protections for women here at the state level.

My headline, you can see, was poached from her piece. What else do you call it when Tea Party Republicans refuse to reauthorize an act that has successfully reduced violence towards women for nearly 2 decades?

Finally, I will note – the Senate version of the VAWA reduced program funding by 17%.

A thir

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by jhwygirl

Quite a dust storm kicking up over the gay marriage position articulated by Montana’s Democratic candidate for governor and current Attorney General Steve Bullock in a recent interview with Charles S. Johnson, Billings Gazette’s State Bureau Chief.

Bullock joined all seven GOP candidates in an anti-gay marriage stance, taking what he surely felt was the safest bet, siding with civil unions instead. From the Billings Gazette:

Bullock said, “I do not favor changing the constitution but would support legislative measures giving committed same-sex couples the opportunity to be together, free from discrimination.” This would include allowing a person to visit his or her partner in the hospital, he said.

The first response I saw was a post from Roberta Zenker of Transmontana, titled Just Say No to the Bullock. Read the entire post, please…and I’ll leave you with how Roberta summed up her feelings on Bullock’s position:

Please forgive my passion on this, but I am hurting. I have been wounded too many times by the results of colloquial thinking. My view is that the LGBT community needs to see itself as a voting block – one that has been denied far too long. I can no longer accept the default position of voting for Dems not because they support our interests, but because they are the lesser of evils. I am getting to the point that I prefer the poison that I know – one whose ideals and actions are susceptible to court challenge, rather than the one that lurks in the conference rooms and minds of hypocrites who accept my donations and volunteer work, but would throw me under the bus for the sake of political expediency.

Forgive that opinion? Hell no – I stand with her.

Today I see D. Gregory Smith with a post titled Steve Bullock Just Lost My Vote. What does DGS have to say?:

I have to say I’m very disappointed in Steve Bullock. Ironically, he apparently is unaware of the pain and suffering of LGBT persons in his state because of legislative discrimination (including a sodomy law still on the books)- or he’s unwilling to acknowledge us in the face of staying safe and winning votes. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has done some amazing things, like already (2 years ago) extending LGBT partner visitation rights in most hospitals. What has Steve Bullock done for us lately ever? Not much. I’m taking the Bullock sticker off of my car.

Bullock is running in a Democratic primary taking a GOP position on gay marriage. Taking a position that will likely be a variation of Mitt Romney’s when-he’s-backed-into-a-corner position on LGBTQ marriage equality.

And to be clear to those of you who think that civil unions and gay marriage are two in the same? They are not.

Are gays a voting block – you betcha. I understand a little how both D. Gregory and Roberta feel – as an environmentalist I feel like every cycle where we near an election, I am supposed to STHU about any criticism of the Democratic candidate because there are other issues more important. Does that compare to being denied rights that my friends and neighbors have? Not at all – but I make that comparison noting that for some reason, my concerns – just like D. Gregory Smith and Roberta Zenker’s – are somehow less important than other issues. Which I’ve come to realize over many years of voting is solely the issue of getting re-elected. We are not supposed to criticize the Democratic candidate because any criticism can harm that candidate in the general. Because the alternative is (most absolutely) far worse.

Because. Because. Because.

Because if you don’t vote for (the Democrat) it’ll all be your fault.

I don’t know how far this is going to take Steve Bullock this time. Democrats across the state have been given a fake candidate and a real candidate – the real candidate taking a position on what many consider to be what should very much be a civil rights issue. Does it harm him in the general?

Its a disgrace for the Democratic Party – and and absolute disaster for the Montana Democrats.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for electeds and officers of the above to express any dissatisfaction with Steve Bullock’s comments. It is, of course, election season – when those electeds and officers abide by the democrat’s version of Ronald Reagan’s Golden Rule: Speak no evil of fellow Democrats. At least during election season. Something I spoke about that a little here in this previous post.

Bullock’s lost my vote. His anti-gay marriage position has sealed it (I had issues with his Otter Creek vote also) for me. And as it stands now, not just for the primary but for the general. I decided some time back that I’m not voting the lesser of two evils.

I will only vote for progressives that are progressives. DINOs, especially, are out of the running for my vote.

Anti gay marriage candidates like Steve Bullock? Not a chance.

by jhwygirl

Every year, the Montana Pride Network puts on a gathering somewhere in Montana to celebrate diversity and equality. This year’s celebration was held in Bozeman, which rolled out a gracious welcome to all who attended this state-level event held June 17th, 18th and 19th.

In the video below you’ll see starting around the 30 second mark our own fabulous b’birder (albeit infrequent, but we don’t hold it against him because he is doing really fabulous work with the Montana Human Rights Network) Jamee Greer. You’ll also see another person whom I respect, Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss, speaking on the important of equality. Most politicians here in Montana wouldn’t speaking so publicly on this issue – Krauss proposed Bozeman’s equality ordinance at the first public meeting after he took office.

“You Are Loved” is the title:

You Are Loved from Wet Paint Studios on Vimeo.

The video was done by Wet Paint Studios. It is a film partnership started by Vanessa Naive and Jeff Dougherty, and this is their first video documentary. You can also hit that link and go to their facebook…but I’m all yucky on facebook, so I’m not linking it here.

:)

I look forward to the day that equality for all is just the way it is. That we don’t even have to talk about equality or gay marriage as if gay marriage is different from marriage. I long for a day when government stays out of churches and churches stay out of government. How can one human being deny another human being his human right to express love?

The time is coming. Equality is coming. Let’s bring it here faster by speaking openly in support of equality, whether you are straight, gay, lesbian or queer. We are all brothers and sisters. It’s time to speak for each other.

by jhwygirl

Montana Rep. Kristen Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill, HB516 was pulled from second reading today and referred back to committee with a 44-4 vote on the Senate floor.

Interesting.

by jhwygirl

We’ve written a number of times about Havre Montana Representative Kristen Hansen’s pro-hate bill HB516.

In brief summary, the bill would nullify Bozeman and Missoula’s equality ordinances – Bozeman’s of which extended equal protections to all its employees and Missoula’s, a more extensive ordinance which extended equal protection to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals in the City of Missoula. It survived at least 3 attempts at recall petitions, and received overwhelming support from Missoula’s community when the hearing was held.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the Senate. More specifically, I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen in the Senate. The facts are that this is a hate bill and there is no overwhelming state interest at hand that requires the legislature to attack local government rule and authority.

It is also hate.

If the real issue were some conflict with the Montana Human Rights Act, then Hansen and the rest of the hate mongers out there that voted in approval of this thing in the house would be proposing a bill that added GBLT individuals to the protections under the Title 49.

That hypocrisy is exhibited by the fact that the same committee that approved HB516 also killed HB514 which would have extended equal protections under the Montana Human Rights Act.

In ridiculously transparent hypocrisy, House Judiciary members argued in favor for HB516 saying that GLBT individuals were already protected under Title 49’s Montana Human Rights Act while the very same people listed to testimony and voted against HB514.

HB514 also failed a blast motion on the floor.

Hypocrites.

Republican Representatives Steve Fitzpatrick (Great Falls),Steve Gibson (E. Helena), Brian Hoven (Great Falls), and Max Yates (Butte) split from their party – all voting against HB516 and in support of equality and local government control.

Fitzpatrick and Gibson stuck with their no votes on the blast motion for HB514.

The hearing for HB516 is Monday, March 14th at 3 p.m. in Room 405, Senate Local Government committee.

By Duganz

Back in 2001 I read an article about some people trying to get “Intelligent Design” taught in classes alongside science. I laughed it off because any five year old can disprove the Biblical story of creation. Here’s a script you’ve surely heard:

Mother: What’s your favorite dinosaur Billy?

Billy: By answering that question, Mother, I will be disproving the Biblical creation story because it of course makes no mention of dinosaurs, but instead begins with the creation of man, which we know didn’t happen because we’ve found dinosaurs much older than man. It’s called carbon dating, it’s a complex analysis of bones or tissue at the atomic level, counting… well, honestly, it’s a bit complex, Mother, so I will conclude that my dinosaur preference is meaningless, but I do enjoy our talks.

Okay, maybe it’s different and the kid actual names a dinosaur and doesn’t give a monologue like he’s in an Ayn Rand novel. But the point is that I didn’t think these people were a threat. No one, I thought, was stupid enough to elect people who thought things like that.

I felt the same way when I would see Fred Phelps on TV. No one is that stupid to believe him. God hates fags? Who actually reads Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13 and thinks, “Sure. Of course”?

Well… I’ve underestimated the stupidity, cruelty, and ignorance of the average person.

HB516, which has been talked about plenty, will legitimize the discrimination of LGBT individuals for religious zealots who enjoy the Bible when they can use it for gain (hatin’ those gays!), but never mention the parts that give credence to the unpopular beliefs (Lot’s daughters rape him? Noah was a drunk? Genesis chapter one is completely different than Genesis chapter two and yet tells the same story? Jesus kills a fig tree?)

But what’s more important and more terrifying is that these people are winning.

And before anyone gets out the “We’re not all liberals!” flag, just remember this: Neither was Goldwater when he got on TV and said that he loved his gay grandson.

So, yeah, I’m a pretty socially liberal guy who has kissed at least five other dudes (that’s off the top of my head, maybe more… I drank a lot in college). But when it comes down to it we all know that the government has no right to tell us who or how to love. They should stay out of our bedrooms, our homes, and our lives as much as possible.

I’m starting to ramble and get angry just thinking about how the Session has gone so far with these “small government” people in power. I hope Brian has a lot of pens handy. He’s got some vetoing to do if he has a modicum of respect for personal rights.

Let’s hear it folks… what’s everyone thinking?

by jhwygirl

There is a bill geared at denying equality to certain people in Montana that will be heard in legislative committee today. It applies retroactively in an effort to quash Missoula and Bozeman’s equality ordinances which extended protections to gays, lesbians and transgendered persons (Bozeman’s not being as far reaching).

There was also some quick maneuvering of the schedule to bring this to hearing…and the committee moved up their start time to 7 a.m. to boot. This bill was introduced on the floor first reading just last Saturday. Special treatment, I’d say.

In addition, along with the quick schedule changes there has been an ongoing discussion about comments. This legislature, controlled by a majority GOP, so they’re holding every committee chair, has been quite disciplined about public comment to the point of a FOX news fair-and-balanced point of view. Equal time, regardless of the number of people.

Now-I understand the need to set some limits – but to just stop the public from comment? I would highly suggest that you take a moment, if you haven’t, to listen to or watch a committee session to see what I mean. I have it on channel 67.

Wisconsin is doing at least one thing right out there – they went overnight in testimony the other night to allow everyone who wanted to testify, testify.

Nothing like last year’s bridge access hearing, as an example, which went on to darn near midnight if not later. Just to allow testimony from everyone that wanted to testify.

In House Judiciary tomorrow (with the meeting starting at 7) HB516, a bill entitled “AN ACT PROHIBITING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM ENACTING ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS, OR POLICIES THAT CONTAIN, AS A PROTECTED CLASS, ANY CLASSIFICATION NOT SPECIFICALLY INCLUDED AS A PROTECTED CLASS UNDER STATE LAW; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND A RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY DAT

It is proposed by a legislator out of Havre, Rep. Kristin Hansen.

Because, you know, Havre doesn’t want all those crazy Missoulians coming up that way and expecting equality and stuff.

In a serendipitous counterbalance, HB514, from Rep. Edie McClafferty, of Butte will be heard, a bill with a short title of “Protect sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

So we have yet another nanny-state Republican proposed bill – this one geared at stopping a Missoula ordinance that failed multiple referendum attempts.

Oh – and you know what local politicians here support this nanny-state big government bill? Councilors Dick Haines, Lyn Hellegaard and Renee Mitchell. Haines at least had the guts to vote “no” in committee to the City of Missoula opposing the oridnance. Lyn and Renee? The merely abstained.

Ward 5? Ward 4? You got some real hate-filled people representing you on city council. Let’s hope you do better next time around.

I know Bozeman’s Mayor Krauss will be there to testify. I’ve not heard who from Missoula’s local government will be there to represent, but I’d love to update if anyone knows.

House Judiciary won’t likely take executive action today. They wouldn’t have the guts, as there will undoubtedly be an huge number of people in opposition to this bill in attended. Please take the time to contact legislators and them know that Montana should be a state that supports equality. That Helena should stay out of running local government…and instead of trying to run local government, perhaps they should start funding it instead of making all kinds of “unfunded mandates” up there every session while limiting local taxing capability to 1/2 the rate of inflation.

You can use this online messaging form and contact the whole committee at one time, or by choosing a legislator. It does not appear that they’ve got software in there that allows you to pick more than one legislator at a time. Hopefully they’ll add that in the future. Or at least “up to 5” or something like that.

by Jamee Greer

One.
This weekend in Serbia, a gay pride celebration was disrupted by almost 6000 rioters throwing molotov cocktails, stun grenades and bricks – and chanting slogans like “death to homosexuals!”.

“Serbia will guarantee human rights for all its citizens, regardless of the differences among them, and no attempts to revoke these freedoms with violence will be allowed,” Tadic said.

Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas said damage was estimated at more than euro1 million ($1.39 million).

Right-wing groups say the gay events run counter to Serbian family and religious values. Most of the rioters Sunday were young football fans whose groups have been infiltrated by neo-Nazi and other extremist organizations.

Serbia is seeking membership in the European Union, which requires certain human rights standards be met before they can join.

Two.
New York State gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, told a gathering of Orthodox Jewish leaders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Sunday that children are being “brainwashed” into believing homosexuality was acceptable and normal.

“That’s not how God created us,” he said, reading from a prepared address. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.”

Newsday.com reported that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text had included the sentence: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted that statement when he gave the speech.

Paladino went on to say to the media, “Don’t misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie.”

Three.
Another gay teen has taken their life, this time in Norman, Oklahoma. The 19 year old had attended a City Council public hearing earlier in the week which included discussion on the receipt of a mayoral proclamation recognizing October as Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender History Month in Norman. The proclamation was approved 7-1, after three hours of graphic, homophobic testimony.

One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights.

Some of those who opposed the proclamation claimed that members of the GLBT community would use it to infiltrate the public school system, essentially allowing the “gay lifestyle” to become a part of the curriculum.

Others claimed that council recognizing October as GLBT History Month was a waste of their time. Some members of the audience even suggested that any council members voting in favor of the proclamation may have trouble getting reelected.

Numerous residents also claimed the Bible was their guiding light, citing the ancient text as their primary reason for opposing the proclamation and the GLBT community in general.

And for those in attendance, it was hard to ignore the intolerant grumblings, the exasperated sighs and cold, hard stares that followed comments from supporters of the GLBT proclamation.

By Duganz

This AP story today about an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with President Barack Obama has left me with lots of questions, and a substantial need to dedicate time to introspection.

On President Obama’s end, he’s mad as hell about perceived apathy on the left. He is tired of progressives being down about what he sees as success––the left being comprised of glass-half-empty types.

“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

In President Obama’s view, the more time we spend complaining about  what we see as his failures (ones he does not see), the more time we’re not watching Republicans.

But we are watching, and it’s scary as hell when we see people clapping for Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin. The Right is gaining power and enthusiasm and will probably take out a good deal of Democrats in the upcoming elections. It’s defeating, and scary, but it’s reality.

So yeah, we are mad  because we all worked hard, gave money, and voted in 2008 to change America for the better. And to see that these people are gaining power instead of being left in the dust of their flat Earth ways, it’s desheartening.

However, do not doubt how serious we are about changing America.

We are serious when we say we want equal rights for our gay friends and family members.

We are serious when we say we want an end to perpetual war.

We are serious when we say we want affordable healthcare for all.

We are serious when we say we want change.

It’s been two years, and these wants are not yet met. Our hopes are as of yet unfulfilled.

In the interview Obama says that change is hard, and I cannot agree more. Change is difficult, and hard, and we’re not a society that likes to wait. Of course some are mad, and anger breeds apathy. But those apathetic people don’t need to be admonished publicly for their malaise, they need to be brought back into the fold with actions and not just promises. It would be nice to see President Obama come clean and say that things aren’t moving as steadily as they should with Democratic control, or condemn regressives within the Democratic establishment who are just as damaging as Republicans.

We cannot live on insistence of success, we need to feel the results by seeing our friends married, our families back from war, our sick well, and our world a better place.

I believe I was right to vote for Barack Obama, and maybe this is his attempt at recreating Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (but in a more successful way).

The thing to remember is: I am not your enemy, Mr. President. CarFreeStpdty is not your enemy (seriously… so don’t clandestinely assassinate him). The Left got you into office because we saw you as our chance. Those “HOPE” stickers weren’t passed out with apathy, but with honest hope and desire for change. And we saw it embodied within you.

Don’t blame us for being upset that you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

by jhwygirl

This is just a quick follow-up to last week’s post about the City of Bozeman’s resolution in support of Montana’s same sex couples and their lawsuit against the State of Montana for its Defense of Marriage Act.

With Montana in the national news spotlight for the Montana GOP’s platform criminalizing homosexuality, this resolution highlights some of the things I touched on in that previous post – namely that to have the State of Montana defend an unconstitutional law (unconstitutional by both Montana Constitutional and U.S. Constitutional standards) is sheer lunacy.

I’ve preached many a time on the pyramid of laws that we have – the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, and all others must comply. Shame on any legislator (or administration or attorney general) that does anything less than defend against those guiding principles.

Bozeman’s resolution is unique in that it is the first resolution directed towards state government telling them to put an end to segregating and treating same sex couples differently under government sanctioned institutions like marriage.

Montana has far more important things to address in court than to try and rehash an issue that has been resolved in our highest courts already. Not only has Montana’s Supreme Court resolved the issue, the U.S. courts have utilized Montana’s Supreme Court decision as precedent in many federal cases confirming the right to privacy.

Conservatives everywhere should be in support. Nothing speaks more loudly against the principles of small government and intrusion than a law that defines marriage.

Please take time to read the Bozeman Chronicle’s article on last Monday’s resolution proposed by Mayor Jeff Krauss.

Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss wants his city to set an example for other cities across Montana by being the first to pass a resolution supporting the seven same-sex couples suing the state for the same rights as married couples.

“These couples are really walking out on a limb to put their faces forward, to put their stories forward, and I think they deserve the support,” Krauss told the Chronicle.

Jeff Krauss, btw, identifies as a Republican. The Mayor’s office and City Commission posts are non-partisan.

Montana’s GOP might be nuts, with “over two-thirds” of its membership voting in support of criminalizing homosexuality – but not all of Montana’s GOP agree. We that support equality should keep this in mind, and not create an environment where the GOP members that want to come out in support of equality – that want to speak out and tell their party that they are wrong – have exactly that environment which allows them to speak in support of small government and against its intrusion into private lives.

Montanans for equality should constructively embrace the national attention being thrust upon us now and leverage it to allow the state’s GOP members that do support equality to do so without fear of repercussion. That one-third out there need the breathing room to take care of the business at hand.

by jhwygirl

I am beyond disgusted with this kind of stuff. If I’ve never written to the fact that the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, I’ve written nothing.

Today I find that the MT GOP, at its most recent convention, re-affirmed its 2008 platform calling for making homosexual acts criminal.

And lest you think I’m making this up – mainly because the page link I provided has been removed today by the MT GOP – here is a cached version, courtesy of the google.

Now – these Einsteins of the MT GOP apparently have no respect for the Montana Constitution, nor the United State’s Constitution. See, both the Montana Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States of America have struck down “anti-sodomy” laws.

The Montana Supreme Court did so in Gryczan v. State, 942 P.2d 112 (1997). Not only that, Gryczan and the right of privacy it has conferred has been reaffirmed over and over again by both the Montana courts and other state and federal courts repeatedly since its rendering.

The United States Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence et. al. V. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003), finding a constitutional protection to sexuality. Only Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In other words – it’s no government’s business what anyone does in their bedroom.

Where does it stop, MT GOP? What is it you want? Are there not enough problems out there facing Montanan’s? Have you no respect for the ultimate law of our land? Of our nation?

By Goddess, something is really failing us here, Montana – I am gosh darn sick and tired of politicians on both sides of the aisle proposing voting for passing and signing bills into law that violate the constitution (be it the Montana Constitution or the Constitution of the United States).

It’s beyond disrespectful that politicians think they can push the boundaries of these precious documents as if saying to The People “Go ahead and sue me – you can’t afford the fight.”

It’s pretty friggin’ simple – policies must obey rules; rules must obey laws; laws must obey the Constitution. It’s not a “sometimes” thing. It’s not something that should only followed when it’s convenient or when the “other party” is in charge

It’s all the time.

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.

by jhwygirl

Picking this up where Taryn Nash, daughter of Tei Nash speaks:

Hello members of the city council, the Missoula community and my friends. My name is Taryn Nash. I am a Missoula native and I’m currently in Spokane right now attending physicians assistant’s school, but will be coming back in 3 months.

I am also Tei Nash’s daughter. Tei Nash, if you don’t know already, is chairman of notmybathroom.com.

I am also a member of the LGBT community. I am here for two very important reasons tonight and I appreciate you listening to my short statements. The first is to address my father – he just left, I don’t know if you saw that, but it was because of my presence I believe he left.

Dad – I strongly disagree with the way you have been portraying the LGBT community who are my friends. You have gone too far. I will not sit back anylonger and be quiet. I love you because you are my dad, but I have lost respect for you. Your blanket judgements and irrational conclusions are ignorant and hurtful, and you need to realize that this crusade you are on is wrong, and it affects me personally.

It makes me sad to say this, but Dad? Right now I am ashamed to call you my father. I am asking you to stop your ridiculous agenda of battling the LGBT rights or you will lose me forever.

The second reason I am here tonight is to encourage the council members to pass this very important ordinance. I plan to practice medicine, with an emphasis in geriatric care in the Missoula community. And I hope to live in a community where I won’t be discriminated based upon my orientation.

I also encourage you to pass this ordinance because these wonderful people of the LGBT community deserve protection against discrimination in all areas. They are hard-working, trustworthy, loving and respectable people and I am proud to call them my family.

Thank you for your time.

{Wow. Hug.}

by jhwygirl

We’ll be giving this my best girl scout try…..

Good lord – we’ve not even gotten to the purpose of tonight, and Halverson is out there calling the city the Soviet Union.

Mayor Engen is saying that no one is going to applaud tonight – because what it does is ramps up emotions. He points out that there is going to be people on both sides of the aisle of this issue that have never spoken before in public, and he wants to make sure that everyone is able to be heard.

Amen to that, Mr. Mayor!

Mayor now reads the Diversity Day proclamation.

Hearing is now beginning. Presentations from sponsors of the ordinance will speak, along with certain opponents to start.

Councilperson Stacy Rye begins, and says that this is the most packed that she has ever seen it. Dave Strohmaier and her have sponsored this bill – it will extend protection to sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression. Missoula will hopefully join 129 other cities and Washington DC. She goes on to dispell some myths. There is nothing in this ordinance about bathrooms – there are no laws governing who uses what bathroom – and she notes that despite this, there has not been chaos in Missoula bathrooms over the years.

She points out that in any of the 129 other cities, there has not been an outbreak of crime.

Housing would be protected for sexual orientation just as it is protected for race sex and religion. Businesses like Missoula like Walmart and Costco are but two that already have protections such as the ones proposed already in place. Who you are or who you love should have no effect on your employment and should not cause you to loose housing or services.

Dave Strohmaier begins – and notes what a historic steps this is for Missoula. He reviews the framework – there are two main sections – a new chapter being added which sets the legal framework for discrimination and non-discrimination. It contains an intent section, and other sections with deal with multiple aspects.

The City of Missoula will not be prosecuting the first through third offenses – people would have to obtain their own counsel. Only the 4th offense will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. That is the first main chunk. The second part amends existing code that already contains language related to discrimination – and amends the protected classes.

He speaks to the origin – he says that there is a very real history of discrimination existing in Missoula. He says that last fall both he and Stacy Rye began looking at the issue individually, and found that many places were looking at doing the same and they joined forces with the MT Human Rights Network.

Why not do a referendum? Refer it to the voters? I think that we were elected as representatives – that we have a representative government and that we were elected to make hard choices. It is our responsibility to deal with it.

A few misconceptions: This ordinance will infringe upon rights to exercise religion – Dave says that the Montana Constitution does not allow this, as does the U.S. Constitution. We have – to make it clear – have amended language in the intent section to make it clear that this ordinance does to ensure on the free exercise of religion.

Churches are free to hire – and he cites ministers and day care workers – anyone they wish.

No local government has the authority to alter Montana’s Constitution.

Nicky Zupanic, public policy director for the ACLU. Has had a chance to speak with many of the council to address many of the concerns as the ordinance was drafted and redrafted. Is happy to respond to any other questions that come up, especially as they related to new amendments to clarify protections under the 1st Amendment.

She says that the ACLU has worked hard to ensure that people are not discriminated against. There are reasons that we protect against discrimination because certain traits are inherent – they can not be changed. There is a history of discrimination that certain people have been subject to. At the end of the day, the question is whether the LGBT community belongs in that class.

Passing this ordinance allows for people to come forth with complaints. She notes that many similar ordinances have been in place for 10, 15 years. For many that have been told that state laws do not include you – for these people, this ordinance is a big deal. For people that believe in fairness and equality – who believes is fostering and inclusive, welcoming community – for these citizens of Missoula, this is a very big deal.

Jamee Greer, of the Montana Human Rights Network speaks. He notes the strong support of the Missoula community. Following the kick-off of the campaign, the network organized a large group of supporters to support LGBT. He provides 3,200 petitions that he’s gathered. He is speeding through the huge numbers of organizations – Poverello, Jeanette Ranking, Blue Mountain Clinic…..

One of the newer groups that was created was FlushTheFear. He gives thanks to Quality Supply and her support offered as a business with multiple locations throughout Montana. He reads from her letter – calling for Missoula public policy to reflect values that ensure that everyone is treated with respect and humanity.

Jamee shares a personal story – and talks about coming out in the 8th grade. His father would classify himself as a conservative – a Baptist. When he told his dad, he said that his dad told him that he was proud of him, but that he was afraid for him – that Jamee’s life would face discrimination and an uphill battle.

Bob Lucino, a Missoula resident for 32 years. A former city council rep – says that what he is about to say is not easy. He risks friendships following his words. I don’t hate anybody. People that speak in opposition are not hateful – they are reasonable thoughtful citizens…we respect your office and we pray for you all on a regular basis. We respect your authority. I come tonight as a citizen to state my opposition to this ordinance. There is strong opposition for this ordinance. The latest count is that council has received 439 letters and emails in opposition.

What is there to discuss? By sheer coincidence, and proclamation is read, represented by students who were invited to Caras Park and they marched here. What’s really to discuss? This ordinance is artfully crafted and is very clearly sandwiched between civil rights images. What the vast majority of Montana’s think of as self-destructive, deviant and destructive behaviors. This has been cloaked behind race, creed, veterans – who can argue with that?

What would JFK say? LBJ? I don’t recall any of them ever talking about these groups? The ordinance language and the proclamation infers that it is our duty to protect these people. I don’t wish anyone harm – if people choose to have a dysfunctional lifestyle, that’s OK – but when you take it into this forum, and you cloak it in civil rights imagery, I have a problem with that.

Council reps Rye and Strohmaier is asking their colleagues to go where council has dared not go before. Legislating morality. Goes back to when he was finishing up his term 1991/92 – said that constituents came to him asking look into Mulligans and Fantasy for Adults – that people had family members dragged into a certain lifestyle…said that he didn’t want to deal with it, but he did. He said that from the first review committee – he said that people said that it is not the cities job to deal with moral issues. This discussion had a curious way of advancing until it got to a full public hearing – 350 people showed up. Spill over crowd. Council could have set a high moral standard regarding obscenity – precedent had allowed it, yet they voted 8-3 against it.

Now we come 18 years later, and he considers this as great an issue as hard-core porn and obscenity. He said that he doesn’t want to open up a slipper slope of legislating every little issue. Here we are tonight with a great moral issue and this time the council is considering setting another community standard. In the majority opinion, it is against the majority to get involved in this moral issue.

He turns to Strohmaier and Wiener and asks them about a bike path.

In conclusion, he wants council to take up all the other peoples issues in this town – and notes that we don’t need to go ths far.

Tei Nash gets up to speak. Resident of Missoula – 5 children, 2 businesses. This ordinance is purposely constructed to give no protections to rights of conscience. It will force a change in the moral compass of this community. The ACLU and the MHRN do not represent the will of a majority of Missoula citizens.

This ordinance is not simple. It is written purposely vague. Has consequences to business and encroaches upon the safety protections needed by the women and children of this county.

Under the non-government created 3rd sex, gender identity, the male experiencing this will be able to use any bathroom or services and if he is denied and if he perceives that his gender expression is discrimination, businesses are subject to penalties. Businesses are deemed guilty – there is no recourse except for expensive litigation. Given the absence of scientific or tangible proof of innate sense of one’s gender – it is impossible to protect people.

This ordinance is barbaric. It is irresponsible to expect to be told that increased opportunity for crimes to be committed by peeping Tom cross-dressing pedophiles and other sexual predators that use gender identity to gain access won’t be fully prosecuted until after the fact.

Should this ordinance pass, for every council member who votes for this ordinance, your aspirations will be severely impeded in the next election.

Reverend Hymes, of the Alliance Defense Fund – and wanted to address some legal concerns. It is fair to say that the old saying that one mans cup of tea is another’s draft of poison. There is a clash of two world views. As soon as we read this in the preamble – that there will be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – when you give that, you automatically discrimination to those that have a religious view in opposition.

The fact that there is a newly added disclaimer reminds me of many of the promises coming out of Washington. Right now I see that disclaimer, it is simply stating the obvious, but it does not remove the poison that is in the words that follow. SCOTUS says that it will look at the words the law employs. The SCOTUS also says that we can not construe statutory phrases in isolation – that we have to look at the design of the ordnance in the whole.

He is concerned that one of the items that will be brought up is a judicial settlement is that the city of Missoula is going have to pay something – while many of you on this council will disagree with my world view, what I’m really talking about is the potential for many lawsuits – lawsuits of very many different natures. The ordinance infringes upon churches – because the very definition of a church has it dealing with non-members – and as such, we’d be subject to this ordinance.

Courts will look at how this law is applied. Under public accommodations, it says that anyone who sells food is a public accommodation – and that means that they can not discrimination. He notes that he has pastors in this audience that sells food. SHEC does – Youth for Christ sells food – those churches will be forced to hire people in strict disagreement with their religious principles.

Incidentally, 15A uses the word “bathroom.”

A public accommodation has to open up its services and activities. That means that the services that a church has to provide – nurseries, weddings – that means that they can not discriminate. That means that the Pastor of a church will be forced to conduct a homosexual marriage. Nonetheless, despite what Strohmaier says that this is not legal because of the Montana laws – this ordinance is illegal.

Let me describe to you what happens when a case happens under 1st Amendment expression – that will immediately go to Judge Molloy and then to the 9th Circuit. I want to talk to you about money and what it will cost the city of Missoula – and then what will happen when the city looses – and I don’t have to be a prophet to say that – it will cost a lot. Is this something you really want?

I do not want the epitaph of this city council to be the city council that bankrupted the City of Missoula. The first time a gender-identity man walks into a women’s restroom and does something that strikes psychological fear and apprehension in a child, that lawsuit will come against this city and you will know real litigation costs.

I beg you to remember – for the sake of your soul’s – this is a sin and you should not support it.

Public comment begins. Mayor will enforce the 3-minute rule.

Pastor Ron Theisen to stand in opposition. Doesn’t believe there are problems – but sees on minimal evidence and it does not warrant action. Says the ordinance is advancing a political agenda. It’s poorly written. Said he had to contact lawyers to see what certain phrases mean. Why is it so ambiguous? Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian and Keila Szpaller have been doing a great job of covering the city’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance since it’s very inception. Today I noticed a story Myths and facts of Missoula’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, which takes down, amongst them, the whole “bathroom issue” craziness.

Keith McHenry writes writes an especially direct letter addressing the “bathroom issue” which really should embarass those who think that an ordinance is going to cause kids or women or people in general to be attacked in public restrooms.

As Szpaller points out in the Missoulian – there currently is no law in place preventing women from using mens bathrooms and vise-versa.

Frankly, this over-obsession with sex amongst these pro-discrimination people is a little creepy, if you ask me.

Wanna check out the reality these people create? The city website posts city council’s email, and you can read letters that came in through Thursday.

For really really offensive, start with one councilperson’s exchange with a Bob Pond, of unknown local, who begins with a crude picture of a moose and a statue. That email series is at 04/07/10 11:15:47 P.M.

If anything makes me sad about this ordinance it is that there is such a loud ugly group of people opposed to treating everyone equally. That this loud ugly group of people is willing to spread lies and fear – that they are advocating for the right to treat a particular group of people, based on perception in some cases, differently.

City council takes up the anti-discrimination ordinance Monday night. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

In addition, Missoula will celebrate its first Diversity Day, beginning at 6 p.m. down at Caras Park. Here’s the scoop, from their Facebook page:

NCBI Respect Club students designate April 12 as Missoula’s 1st Annual Diversity Day! Join us at Caras Park April 12 at 6pm to celebrate and bring awareness to Missoula’s unique and diverse community. Rally will feature youth and community speakers & Mayor John Engen will make an official proclamation. Join our parade to the City Council Chambers where our city officials will be voting on the non-discrimination ordinance. One 7th grader from Meadow Hill said: “I want a diversity day because being different is important. Diversity Day could help bring our community together, and we all need to be recognized.” The students hope that the Diversity Day celebration will be a new Missoula tradition that will continue for years to come.

by jhwygirl

In April, Missoula City Council will take up a proposed city ordinance that will ensure equal protection for everyone regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

See? Is that a big deal? Or maybe the question is Why is this a big deal?

This is such a no-brainer for me to support, my mind sometimes has a hard time “supporting” stuff like this because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that people can want to treat certain people differently based on who they are. How can people can think that way? Where to begin with such ignorance?

Tonight I first came across this. I’m reading the comments there, and frankly, I’m amazed at the openly bigoted and blatantly ignorant things people will publicly say and put their name and face to it.

Then I get to Missoula Red Tape where I read about a website titled NotMyBathroom.com, where the lies and misinformation continue. They purport – and notice the careful wording there – to be “an alliance of 17 organizations with members within the City Limits of Missoula as well as dozens of concerned citizens.”

Could that mean “An alliance of 17 organizations spread out over North and South American, with 2 members with the city limits as well as dozens of concerned citizens living in northern Idaho”?

These Mel Gibson fans even had the gumption to send out a press release.

I truly hope that the press picks up on that…someone like that, going through all that trouble to create two webpages and issue a press release deserves all the attention their little twisted brain desires.

by jhwygirl

Well, the City of Bozeman didn’t waste any time did they? Just last Friday newspapers across the state brought us the news that the City of Bozeman was going to take up consideration of extending protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to its employees.

Well, tonight, amid the showdown in Big Sky (played out, notably, even on Missoula KECI late evening news), Bozeman city commission took up the matter of extending benefits and protections to…well….fellow citizens. People. Brothers and sisters, neighbors. Friends. Sons, daughters.

City Attorney did up a report that details quite a bit of information, not only locally, but nationally on how gays and transgendered people lack equal protections and access to the same types of benefits and services granted to their heterosexual counterparts.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Via Mark T. over at Piece of Mind, here’s what happened to someone who didn’t want to celebrate the life of a virulent, noxious bigot:

Eason, a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture, instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or North Carolina flags at half-staff Monday, defying a directive sent to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley…When a superior ordered the lab to follow the directive, Eason decided to retire rather than pay tribute to [Jesse] Helms.

State officials claim they didn’t force Eason to retire. Regardless, Jesse Helms was a disgrace to the nation and an embarrassment to North Carolina. A master of the southern strategy (something our Republican friends like to argue doesn’t exist, despite the example here before us), Helms used his career in public service to sow hatred and discord. He doesn’t deserve to be honored. And his life certainly shouldn’t cause another, better public servant to lose his job.

by Rebecca Schmitz

I’ve been accused of using hyperbole to make a point by a couple of our readers, so I’m not immune to criticism. I know Jay’s officially retired the “creep” category, so hopefully the level of discourse can remain above personal attacks. But sometimes a blogger can’t resist, because this, this is priceless:

Cook for a living and forget to put pickles on a gay persons hamburger, you’ll be thrown in jail and charged with a hate-crime (obviously you hate gays because you didn’t forget the pickles on the hetero’s burger).

I’ve heard a lot about the fabled Homosexual Agenda, but sweet Elton John’s feather boa, I had no idea it was so far-reaching as to include burger fixings. I’m sure your heart, like mine, quails at the thought of the blood that will run in Missoula’s streets when someone forgets to put the slice of pepper jack on Jamee’s cheeseburger.

by dharmagrrl

THIS JUST IN: In England, Brighton to be more specific, if you play music that promotes violence against gays or lesbians in your club or pub, you will be shut down, according to a licensing proposal announced today.

Now this is a fine example of how laws speak to the values of a society. Brighton cares about it’s gay and lesbian population. They are willing to enact a law that bans homophobic music because of their desire to see a community not tainted by discrimination and violence against any group of people. As reported in Pinknews.co.uk, Councillor Dee Simson, head of licensing, told The Argus: “In Brighton and Hove we have a good record on equalities and we felt is was important to include this licensing policy. We do not want music that incites racial or homophobic hatred.”

So what to do Missoula…what to do? What do we want our own policies and laws to reflect. It is essential that we as a community take a stand, that we speak up against violence in all it’s forms and that we begin to enact laws that reflect our “Missoula values” (to quote Mayor Engen from the speech he gave at the November 26 rally against recent anti-gay hate crimes).

Missoula is a great place to be gay, there are many wonderful straight allies here and yet, we are plagued by anti-gay violence of all kinds. Just last year over the holidays, there was a truck on the Northside that was spray painted with an anti-gay epithet. This is simply unacceptable, yet it has become the norm, not the exception.

Currently our laws exclude LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members from protections against employment discrimination, rights to adopt, the right to marry and the 1000’s of rights afforded to married heterosexual couples. How do we allow this to continue? Are we really going to allow the religious right and garden variety ignorance decide what is fair in our communities? Does Brittany Spears’ less than twenty-four-hour Las Vegas marriage several years ago really mean more in this country than my friends who have been in a committed relationship for 10 years? Is that where you want to live? Is that the community you want to raise your children in?

It is time. Give the LGBT community your ear this holiday season. And in the new year give them your votes as well. We are not a wedge issue, we are flesh and blood. And we are not going anywhere. We are Missoula. Speak up. Stand OUT.

by Jamee Greer

Roughly three hundred Missoulians came together for We Are Missoula, a rally in response to the recent anti-gay violence here in the Garden City. Monday’s rally began at five, and by 5:01 the L-shaped floor of my favorite establishment, the Badlander, began to fill with a perfect cross-section of Missoula.

Speakers from the political realm included Senators Christine Kaufman and Dave Wanzenried, Representative Michele Reinhart (an honest roll-model for young Montanans), Mayor Engen and County Commissioner Jean Curtiss… and statements were read from Montana Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as State Representative Diane Sands, who wasn’t able to make the event but wanted to show her continuing support for civil rights. Members of the Missoula Police Department, which has made amazing progress in working effectively and openly with the city’s queer community, made rounds through the crowd offering hugs of support and reminding folks of the importance in reporting every act of violence. Mayor Engen was first to take the stage, urging survivors to discuss their stories—and reminding the attackers that hate is not welcome in our town.

Many of the speakers centered on the importance of hate crimes legislation inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation, something the Montana Legislature has been unable to pass despite efforts back into the early nineties.

Statements from both Montana Senators were read:

(Senator Tester’s statement was kept short and sweet)

In Montana, personal freedom isn’t a luxury. It’s a God-given right. Here—and any place where personal freedom and privacy are sacred—there’s no place for violence spurred on by hate or fear.

Know that I support legislation making attacks like these hate crimes. I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.

Montanans deserve no less. They see good in each other, do good for each other and respect each other despite their differences. That’s the Montana way.

(…and from Senator Baucus)

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but I applaud your efforts. As Montanans and Americans, we value freedom and individual liberties. We respect those who have differing views, and we know that personal freedom and privacy is paramount.

That’s why I’ve supported hate crimes legislation in the Congress. And that’s why I stand with you today to make sure that no Montanan has to live in fear.

Jess Keith, a survivor of the attacks on November 4th, took the brave and courageous step of speaking before the crowd. She was introduced by her friend, Melissa Darnell, who made a trip up to Missoula for the rally from California. Reading her poem to the attackers, An Open Letter, Melissa thanked them for igniting a passion to fight such injustice, ending with:

to you I say:

your hate
your fear
your bigotry
your violence

empowers me
energizes me
encourages me
ignites me

and I am not alone.

Love.
Is.
Love.

and that is much
much
M U C H
stronger

than the f o u r
of you

(the piece is available in entirety on her blog.)

As a queer Montanan, I can’t begin to express the feeling of solidarity and support I felt standing with my fellow Missoulians. People were shocked. They were frightened. And they were full of resolve to make a difference in the lives of others they hardly knew anything about. There is still so much to be said of that evening, and so much more to be done in our struggle for civil rights. But I’ll end my first post on 4and20 with one realization from the rally,

I am not alone.




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