Kim Abbott, program director of the Montana Human Rights Network, a Pride Foundation grantee, recently sent out a call for action I wanted to pass along to the larger community. But first, some background.
Helena is poised to become the second city in Montana to protect residents from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. However, the city has been stalling since January 4th, when the Network began trying to move the ordinance before the city commissioners.
Two weeks ago, to mount pressure on the commission, supporters convened on the commissioners’ meeting, voicing support during the “public comment” portion of their meeting. Last week, opponents followed suit, with four speakers but more than 40 in attendance.The line of opposition testimony covered the talking points equality supporters have come to expect – the cost to the city, potential lawsuits, and (as always) some very demeaning comments about LGBTQ people. Here are a couple quotes from opponents:
“In Jesus Christ, there is hope for people whether they are transgendered or homosexual or drunks or smokers or gossips or liars or anything because all of us have, whether knowingly or unknowingly, broken the known law of God. There is hope for all of us.”
“My concern is pedophiles and homosexuals and rapists going into the bathroom.”
“As LGBT people, it is always difficult to be compared to pedophiles, drunks, and rapists, no matter how many times we hear it,” said Abbott. “But we know we can win this campaign by talking about our values of dignity, security, and respect for everyone in Helena. We know we can pass this policy by talking about our lives, our families, and what these protections mean to us.”
If you want to help Helena pass this ordinance, here’s what you can do. You don’t have to be a resident, since the ordinance would also protect those visiting Helena through the public accommodation clause:
Email the city commissioners and ask them to support a non-discrimination ordinance in Helena. Be brief and respectful, and talk about why you personally want to see this policy pass.
Pledge to testify when the ordinance has a hearing date!
Write a letter to the editor of the Helena Independent Record explaining why you support an ordinance. You can submit letters online by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d be willing to forward us a copy of the letter you submit, we’d really appreciate it!