Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Missoula Passes Inclusive TBLG Rights Ordinance

Congratulations to the people in Missoula, Montana!

In front of the largest crowd to attend a city council meeting in 30 years, the Missoula City Council by a 10-2 vote early Tuesday morning adopted the first TBLG rights non-discrimination ordinance in the state of Montana.

The new ordinance protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Just as the debate on the issue in the weeks leading up to the historic vote was contentious, the nearly seven hour council meeting was charged with emotion.

One example of just how contention this debate has been was the moment in which Tei Nash, the leader of the opposition to this ordinance was confronted by his adult daughter Taryn, who came out that evening.

"Dad. I strongly disagree with the way you have been portraying the LGBT community. You have gone too far. I will not sit back any more and be quiet. I love you because you are my dad, but I have lost respect for you. You need to realize this crusade you are on is wrong, and it affects me personally. Right now I am ashamed to call you my father."

Councilman Jason Wiener in warning opponents against trying to repeal the ordinance pointed out that Missoula precincts bucked the state and opposed the 2004 constitutional ban on gay marriage by 55 percent to 45 percent.

He noted that the generation growing up and voting since then is even more in favor of equality, he said.

"This is not going to be repealed. I'm proud to vote for this," Wiener said.

In an emphatic sermon, Councilman Jon Wilkins told religious leaders who opposed the proposal to reconsider their views. He said he could see fear in some people's demeanors, even in the shaking of one man's hands when he spoke to the council.

"That tells you right there there's been discrimination," Wilkins said. "I believe in God and all that too. I go to church. ... But I don't believe in a God that tells me that I should discriminate against somebody because of who they are or what they are or anything like that. ... That's why I'm going to support this ordinance. Shame on you churches that can't see the light. You'd better start looking to save yourselves."

"Most of us can't remember civil rights in action," said Councilwoman Stacy Rye, an ordinance sponsor, during the wee hours of the morning. "This is it for us. This is our lifetimes."

Congrats Missoula for joining the ranks of communities across the nation that value their GLBT citizens.

And thanks to all the people who busted their behinds, told their stories and fought tooth and nail to make it happen.

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