Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Missoula, MT Passes Non-Discrimination Ordinance

According to the Missoulian, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning the Missoula City Council adopted the first equality ordinance in Montana that protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"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.

The following councilors voted yes: Strohmaier, Jason Wiener, Pam Walzer, Roy Houseman, Rye, Bob Jaffe, Jon Wilkins, Dick Haines, Ed Childers and Marilyn Marler.

The ordinance will take effect in 30 days.

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