That’s the headline of the article in The American Independent that talks about how religious conservatives are moving to eliminate equal protection ordinances in several states, and – you guessed it- Montana is prominently featured.
Under the radar and with clever wording, social conservatives in several states are trying to make it illegal for local communities to protect their LGBT citizens from discrimination in housing and employment. And they hope that by not explicitly mentioning “sexual orientation” in the legislation, judges may let the proposed laws stand where they otherwise would be unconstitutional.
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws that ban discrimination in housing and employment with respect to either sexual orientation or gender identity or both. In other states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or to deny them housing. As a result, many local communities have taken steps to fix that inequity through nondiscrimination ordinances of their own.
The Human Rights Campaign estimates that more than 160 communities have enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, and dozens more have enacted incomplete ordinances that leave out the transgender community or that only provide limited protections.
But under proposals by Republicans in several states, such ordinances in Lawrence, Kans., Missoula, Mont., and Kalamazoo, Mich., would be illegal.
Bills in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Michigan would bar local governments from enacting laws that prevent discrimination against any group not already covered by that state’s own nondiscrimination laws. Montana’s House passed a similar bill last year, but it died in the Senate.
It was the testimony of Pastor Harris Himes that demonstrated further anti-LGBT bias behind the bill. He’s pastor of the Big Sky Christian Center in Missoula who also serves as the head of the Montana Eagle Forum, an affiliate of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum.
“There are those of us who would not wish to rent to gay and lesbian people for religious reasons and we should be allowed to do that,” he said adding that he supported the bill and opposed Missoula’s ordinance. “It’s going to be a situation that would force churches to bring in people to do Sunday school, these homosexuals… [Himes was cut off by the chair for deviating from the topic].”
Rep. Diane Sands, a Democrat from Missoula, grilled Himes. “My question for you today is: You feel that [religious people] should be able to discriminate against LGBT if they will? What are those religious reasons for which gay people should be discriminated against?”
Himes responded, “They should be able to discriminate. They should be able to choose to whom they rent based on religious reasons, that goes to employment, that goes to Sunday school, that goes to all of those issues. And likewise, the religious reason is… it is God himself that says homosexuality is an abomination and he has various punishments for that too.”
Sands followed up, “What are those punishments?”
Himes answered, “The punishment in Leviticus 20:13 is this: If a man lies with a man like a women, they shall surely be put to death. That’s the punishment.”
Read the entire article– it has many salient points about how some conservatives are aiming for LGBT rights specifically as “anti-Christian”- there’s more on Montana, too.
- Flint Passes Non Discrimination Ordinance (transgenderflint.com)
- Nebraska Churches Buy Full-Page Ad To Oppose LGBT-Friendly Nondiscrimination Protections (thinkprogress.org)
- “Mitt ‘N Match” — Watch Mitt Romney change his positions on LGBT equality more than he changes his clothes (yubanet.com)