John M. Becker

Billings, Montana Kills Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Filed By John M. Becker | August 12, 2014 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Billings, city ordinance, created equal, Montana, nondiscrimination ordinance, Tom Hanel

billings-montana.JPGAnother local LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance has gone down in flames, this time in Billings, Montana. According to the Billings Gazette, the city's mayor cast the deciding vote:

Saying he doesn't believe Billings is ready for a nondiscrimination ordinance, Mayor Tom Hanel cast the decisive vote just past 3 a.m. Tuesday to defeat the long-debated measure. Hanel said he applied a standard from Rotary International to help him reach his decision: "I needed to ask myself, is this fair to everyone, beneficial to everyone? Will it build goodwill and friendships? I can't say for sure," he said of the NDO.

The vote was 6-5, with council members Shaun Brown, Rich McFadden, Denis Pitman, Angela Cimmino and Mike Yakwich joining Hanel against the ordinance, which would have amended city code to protect people from being discriminated against on the bases of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. In support of the proposal were council members Becky Bird, Jani McCall, Brent Cromley, Al Swanson and Ken Crouch.

Brown said he wasn't against a majority of the ordinance, but did oppose a section that would have prohibited discrimination in public accommodations -- namely, restrooms and locker rooms. He said he also opposed alternates that would have allowed for monetary damages to people successfully arguing they were discriminated against.

At the end of the meeting, after voting to spit in the faces of his LGBT constituents, Mayor Hanel had the temerity to plea for equality and tolerance. "We were all created equal," he said, according to the Gazette. "If you can't sit by someone who disagrees with you, shame on you."

Wrong, Mayor Hanel. While we're all supposed to be equal in this country of ours, you and your fellow elected officials have demonstrated by your votes today that LGBT people are not actually equal in the city of Billings. But on the "bright" side, you may not have to worry about LGBT people sitting with their oppressors at all -- without a non-discrimination ordinance, business owners who don't like sitting next to or serving queers will just be able to kick them out.

Shame on you, Mr. Mayor.

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