Currently there are two major cities in Montana with Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDO) in place for LGBTQ citizens, which offer protections for employment, housing and public accommodations. The importance of these NDOs can be emphasized by the fact that Montana does not have statewide legal protections under the Montana Human Rights Act. After years of lobbying efforts at the legislative level, organizations such as the Montana Human Rights Network, the ACLU of Montana and Forward Montana took to the grassroots and municipal level and found it quite successful.
Most recently, these efforts were launched in Bozeman. The campaign was officially kicked off Tuesday, December 10th at Wild Joes Coffee House. The event brought in between 80-100 people. There were 5 speakers: two Pastors, one Rabbi, two small business owners and a transgender activist. The energy and momentum in the coffee shop were evident of how much the Bozeman community wants to see this ordinance passed. As with former NDO campaigns in Missoula and Helena, there was much support outside of the LGBTQ community. People in the faith community and employment sector recognize the importance of legal protections and respect for the LGBTQ community. People understand that when citizens are afforded the space to live and work safely and free from fear of discrimination or harm, it provides a much more productive and conducive environment for everyone.
We are thrilled to see so much energy and excitement moving across to other areas of Montana. Such efforts are indicative of the supportive nature of the advancement of LGBTQ policies in Montana, even if they have failed to pass at the state-wide legislative level. Pride Foundation is honored to be on the ground in Montana partnering with, and supporting the organizations doing this important work including, the Montana Human Rights Network, the ACLU of Montana and Forward Montana. We look forward to the hopeful continued success of the grassroot Non-Discrimination Ordinances and a strong partnership with these organizations moving forward. Montana has the support and the momentum it needs to be on the forefront of success.
Kim is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development KOrganizer in Montana. Email Kim.