Main | Tuesday, April 13, 2010

LGBT Rights For Missoula, Montana

Yesterday the Missoula, Montana city council voted 10-2 to approve of adding LGBT people to the city's employment and housing discrimination laws.
"Most of us can't remember civil rights in action," said Councilwoman Stacy Rye, an ordinance sponsor. "This is it for us. This is our lifetimes." In front of citizens who sat through a nearly seven-hour meeting, the council voted 10-2 in favor of the measure - which protects Missoula residents from housing and employment discrimination based on "actual or perceived ... sexual orientation, gender identity or expression." The measure passed at 1:45 a.m. "Hopefully our actions tonight will ripple through Montana from Libby to Billings, from Dillon to Wolf Point, and eventually to the capital in Helena," said Councilman Dave Strohmaier, another sponsor of the ordinance. Early in the evening, Mayor John Engen warned people he would recess the meeting if the audience clapped for anyone - for or against the proposal. When the final vote was taken, the pent-up applause erupted and many supporters who remained in the room offered the council a standing ovation.
As I noted yesterday, the civil rights battle in Missoula was marked by lies about men in ladies rooms, a charge that was refuted by some local clergy on their competing website. One young local woman confronted the man behind the lying website, Not My Bathroom, during the hearing. It was her own father.
"Dad. I strongly disagree with the way you have been portraying the LGBT community," said Taryn Nash, who identified herself as an LGBT member to her father for the first time during the public meeting of the Missoula City Council. "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." Nash's father, Tei Nash, is chairman of, the group formed to defeat the anti-discrimination ordinance, fearing for the safety of families. He apparently had left the overflowing City Council Chambers before she spoke, but on the live television feed, she told her father he risked losing her forever. "You need to realize this crusade you are on is wrong, and it affects me personally," said Taryn Nash, who broke from her studies in Spokane to testify. "Right now I am ashamed to call you my father."

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