Boise Approves Transgender-inclusive Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Boise just did something Helena was terrified to do – made discrimination against anyone because of sexuality and gender identity illegal.

From the Idaho Press-Tribune:

The Boise City Council unanimously approved a nondiscrimination ordinance for the city of Boise Tuesday evening.

“… Big win for equality in Boise,” the city tweeted Tuesday.

The ordinance, proposed by Council President Maryanne Jordan and Council member Lauren McLean, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in employment, housing and places of public accommodation in the city.

There are exceptions for religious corporations, associations, education institutions and societies. The U.S. Government and state of Idaho and any of their departments or agencies except the city of Boise are also exempt.

During a packed public hearing on the ordinance in November, the Council heard from 60 people (who) supported it and 12 opposed.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Read the full ordinance here.

It includes perceived sexuality and gender identity. Which is amazing for any city.

I just can’t believe Boise beat Helena to the punch…. Or maybe I can.




Havre Has It!

A kick-ass event, that is.

The Havre Daily News had a great write-up about today’s event with Jamee Greer of the Montana Human Rights Network and the Pride Foundation’s Montana Organizer, Caitlin Copple. The meeting will be held in the Crowley Room, on the second floor of MSU Northern’s Student Union tonight from 6-8pm. It’s purpose is

 “to hear the inside scoop on the 2011 Legislature and its implications” for civil rights of Montana’s gay and lesbian community, according to an email from Pride Foundation Organizer Caitlin Copple.

Copple and MHRN lobbyist Jamee Greer are bringing their organizations together for this meeting, which Greer said made this event unique from others he has already held in Missoula, Bozeman and Whitefish.

Part of the reason that Havre will be receiving special treatment is because it is Hansen’s home district, after she sponsored House Bill 516, a bill that was intended to overturn a Missoula ordinance protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

We all remember Kris Hansen, don’t we? If not, try going here.

Good things being done by good people. Support them if you can.

HDN story here.

More From Cpl. Wilfahrt’s Family

Cpl Andrew Wilfahrt

I wrote about Andrew Wilfahrt, the gay soldier who died in Afghanistan six weeks ago- the victim of an IED.

Now his father, Jeff Wilfahrt, is continuing the brave tradition of serving his country by speaking out on behalf of halting discrimination:

“I have no authority for what I am about to say. My only claim to fame is that I am the father of a fallen Minnesota soldier, the eighteenth to die in Afghanistan since 2007.

To all of you here in attendance and to all of those who serve in the Capitol of the great State of Minnesota I tender these following remarks.

Each of you here today are, first and foremost, a human being, you are in all likelihood an American, and you are in all likelihood a Minnesotan.

Each and every one of you can be described by height, by weight, by eye color, by hair color, by ethnicity, by gender and by sexuality. You were born with these things, not a
single descriptor I’ve stated is a choice.

Each of you has chosen a life arc. You choose with whom to associate, you choose your creed, you choose your politics; you choose your work life. These choices each of us
make as humans, as Americans and as Minnesotans.

We had a son. He was gay, he didn’t choose it. But he did choose as his life arc to serve in the Army with the 552nd MP Company. He died in Kandahar just six weeks ago. It was death by IED while on foot patrol.”

Powerful stuff.  Story and video here.

HRC On Board In Montana

I’m glad that the Human Rights Campaign is paying attention to us….

Last spring HRC supporters teamed up with other advocates in Missoula to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, conservatives at the State Capitol in Helena think they know better than the people of Missoula. HB 516 would take power away from local governments and make it illegal to pass anti-discrimination protections that are stronger than those in Montana state law. Take action now and send a message to your legislators asking them to oppose this bill and support equality!

Not only is this bill destructive for all future attempts to secure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Montanans, it’s also retroactive which calls into question any personnel policy or resolution that a locality has already passed.

We will need a strong presence at the Capitol supporting dignity, fairness and equality Monday afternoon.  Please come testify or talk to your legislators. While we ask that everyone who comes to the Capitol bring a copy of written testimony to submit for the record, we expect the Senate Local Government committee to treat people with fairness and give a reasonable amount of time for testimony.

Senate Local Government Committee Hearing
Monday, March 14 | 3:00 p.m.
Room 405 | Montana State Capitol | Helena, MT

If you can’t make the hearing in person, please send a letter to your legislators now!

Thank you,

Marty Signature
Marty Rouse
HRC National Field Director

Action Alert

House Judiciary votes to repeal Missoula and Bozeman policies

Much has happened this morning and we will get you a more in-depth email soon. We want to update you on an attempt by the House Judiciary Committee to overturn the Missoula Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, and similar inclusive policies now in place in Bozeman. We also have an immediate request for action that follows at the end of this message.

After decades of the state failing to protect LGBT Montanans, the House Judiciary Committee decided this morning to take away the right of localities to protect their own residents. HB 516 by Havre’s Rep. Kris Hansen passed on a 13-7 vote, with Helena’s Rep. Liz Bangarter joining all six Democrats on the committee voting against it.

Localities have the right and the legal ability to go beyond the Montana Human Rights Act. The Montana Human Rights Act sets the floor. It does not set the ceiling. Cities have the authority to establish ordinances and policies that protect and value members of their communities that have faced a history of discrimination.


That is exactly what the City of Missoula did when it passed its Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in April of 2010.

This will repeal not only the Missoula ordinance – but existing policies and resolutions that other cities have passed to protect their residents. People from across the state came to speak out in opposition (Helena, Cardwell, Butte, Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman, Missoula, Sidney and Opportunity, MT all came to the Capitol on Friday to stand in opposition to HB 516) – and their testimony was not only limited to ten minutes total, but cut off.

We have to believe that basic Montana values of fairness and dignity will prevail – if not in the House, then in the Senate.

We need you to contact your Representative immediately. You can use this easy webform to have your message delivered:

Please remember to be respectful, be direct – and share how this bill will personally impact you. Here are several talking points for your message:

  • After Montana has failed to protect LGBT Montanans at the state level for decades, localities have decided to take the initiative and protect their own residents.  This is the right of cities and counties across Montana.  The state sets a minimum standard for protections against discrimination.  Cities and Counties can expand protected classes.
  • LGBT Montanans deserve to live their lives and fully participate in their communities without fear of losing their jobs or housing because or their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
  • It is the right of cities and towns to take care of their residents and protect them from discrimination.  The state of Montana should be in the business of extending these protections to LGBT Montanans, not repealing these protections.
  • Montanans value diversity and equality, and we know our strength as a community is based on treating each other fairly and with respect. Protections like the ones now in place in Bozeman and Missoula match our public policy to our values.


Jamee Greer
Montana Human Rights Network

Shining A Light Into The Scary Scary Dark…


Whether or not you believe the Montana Legislature has lost it (I don’t want to make clinical assessments about persons I haven’t evaluated personally); whether or not you believe some of the tripe that is being considered for legislation (I know- paranoia is hard to ignore); whether or not you are a believer in term-limits (where are the statesmen statespersons who are concerned for the long-term health and well-being of Montana, and not just for the spasmodic pushing through of personal, unscientific and socially ignorant positions? Sorry, bad sentence structure- read again) and whether or not you are a reasonable human being who would rather they just all go away and not come back for another two years (I’m trying to be open to the process, but I’m losing patience fast); this Legislature is doing things that require the voice of reason to increase in volume.

To wit: Nutjob Bills In The Montana Legislature.

And etc.: Natural Disaster: Republican legislators wage war on Montana’s environmental laws.

And just in case you missed it, the poster child of the 2011 Montana Legislature.

There is a chance to make your voice heard. Get involved. Speak.

And if you want some company, go here.