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.
(Photo credit: romana klee)
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.