The Human Rights Campaign wants to know- and I want Montana to be clearly and substantially represented. It took me 10 minutes. And you don’t have to be from Montana to take it- it’s nationwide.
Take the survey HERE.
Bishop Gene Robinson is a pioneer, and I’m really looking forward to meeting him- this is a big deal for Montana.
I’m also excited about Gregory Hinton’s play about the Missoula non-discrimination ordinance. It promises to be an informative, enlightening and inspirational weekend for everyone interested in equality. I will be in Billings Friday through Sunday- I hope to see you there!
On Friday morning, the House Judiciary Committee with hear HB 481. This bill adds “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” to the Montana Human Rights Act.
Let me tell you a little bit about who I am and why this is important to me.
I am a 3rd generation Montanan, a business owner for 30 years, a taxpayer, a community volunteer and most importantly a mom. I am very much like a lot of Montanans, I suppose. There is one difference, however; I have a wonderful son who happens to be gay.
Like any parent, I want my son to have the same opportunities, protections and rights that his brother and his dad and I take for granted every single day. These rights are not something that we have to think about; they are always there and we know that. My son has a lot of the same opportunities as well. He goes to school, he works, and he pays taxes like the rest of us. Yet he can be denied housing, a job and other rights simply because of who he loves.
It really is that simple.
When I hear people criticize this bill, they often do so citing their religious beliefs. I respect peoples’ rights to practice whatever religion they choose, just as my family does. What I don’t understand, however, is how my son’s rights to equal treatment under the law can be seen as less important to a society than the religious beliefs of some of that society’s members. Where in the bible does it say that we should treat some of our own as second-class citizens because of who they are? And why should anyone else’s interpretation of the bible be more valuable than my own? Our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom. That does not mean the freedom for me to practice your beliefs but instead to follow my own.
This bill is about peoples’ basic human rights and what allows them to be safe, giving, productive citizens of this great state. Sometimes it is pretty easy to be against something that doesn’t really affect you personally. I ask you to please think about that carefully . Equal rights are not special rights and special rights are not equal rights. I hope the House will consider this important bill and not be led by unjustified fear. As we move forward in Montana with couples recognition and city non-discrimination ordinances, I hope that all Montanans will educate themselves and advocate for fairness for all people.
Thank you for hearing this Montana Mom out.
- Montana Non Discrimination Bill Hearing Tomorrow (dgsmith.org)
- MT Legislature: Actively Working To Shame Gay People (dgsmith.org)
- Montana NDAA Nullification Bill Passes House Committee, 20-0 (tenthamendmentcenter.com)
- Senate moves to strike anti-gay language in law (billingsgazette.com)
The recitals of the proposed Helena, Montana LGBT non-discrimination ordinance state that “it is the intent of the City of Helena that no person shall be denied his or her civil rights or be discriminated against based upon his or her sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” It is a wonderful statement, really, one that even a few years ago would have been unimaginable, coming from any Montana governmental subdivision, state or local. Yet, here it is.
And I have been dubious for so long, even though I know in my soul that equality is a social inevitability, rather than a mere possibility. It is here, and it is now. But, do we have the will, collectively, as a community to make it happen. The Helena City Commission is out there, and though we have not always appreciated some of their steps or the way in which they took them, passing this ordinance will be a bold step forward. I for one appreciate the resolve and energy it has taken to come even this far. They have done their part.
The advocates too, the Montana Human Rights Network, the ACLU, other organizations, and many individuals who work, live, play and pray here have done their part too. They have stepped up and spoken out on behalf of a marginalized group that for too long has lived in fear and been denied equality. They are not asking for something more, or something special, but just the opportunity to live as the majority do – without fear or denial of security in employment, to participate in social and recreational activities with their friends, family and neighbors, schoolmates and fellow churchgoers, etc., and to be able to access all accommodations for basic needs including food, health, shelter, etc.. We owe these dedicated, courageous volunteers a great debt of gratitude for their willingness to fight the good fight, regardless of the outcome.
There have been the nay sayers too. They have stood up and said what they believe. And though we may disagree, we do not judge or condemn. In fact, we very much support their right to hold their beliefs and to practice them and voice them as they do. These rights are fundamental and vital to the life of this democracy. We propose. We discuss and dissent. We resolve and we move on – together.
Then, there are the rest of us, the citizens of the Helena valley, the community and the people.
We too have a stake in this. We have the opportunity to shape a community which truly reflects our values, one that can shine as a beacon of humanity for all of Montana, as the capital city should. We enjoy diversity, for otherwise life would be boring. We embrace the idea of a free society, for it is our heritage. We love justice, as even the prophets proclaimed that we should. Most of all, we thrive on patience, tolerance, kindness and love. And the greatest of these is love. The great ones proclaimed it, as even the wise and the holy ones have lived it. The singers sing about it, as the preachers preach about it. And it is all true, in the end. We must love one another even as we have been loved – not some frothy and emotional, sappy appeal, but the kind of action that elevates others need and dignity above our own. It is the kind of action which tolerates differences in deference to commonality and our shared struggle.
And so I ask – do we have it? We talk, preach and pray about notions like peace, justice, and fairness, and I believe that we intend them and desire them. But, do we do them? If I have evoked even a moment of pause to consider this question, we need not be too hard on ourselves. For in this action now before us we have the opportunity to redeem our lack of fidelity to our best of intentions. I am asking you, the people of this community to come out and join me in supporting the Helena Non-discrimination ordinance which will be coming on for final hearing and approval by the Helena City Commission at 6:00 on Monday, December 17th, not just because it is of vital importance to so many, or because it is the right thing to do, but because it says so much fundamentally about who we are as a community, as a society, about being the change we wish to see in the world. It is not enough to have good intentions, to talk, preach and pray about the world that we want to live in, that we want for our children. We have to get out and build it.
- The State Of The Ordinance (dgsmith.org)
- Boise Approves Transgender-inclusive Non-Discrimination Ordinance (dgsmith.org)
- Help! Helena Non-discrimination Poll Freeped By Haters (bilerico.com)