Billings Is Ready
August 19, 2014 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Suzie Eades, HRC member
Wow. What a difference a week makes. Last week, supporters of an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Billings, Montana, felt shock and profound disappointment after the mayor broke a city council tie by voting against the ordinance. Mayor Tom Hanel prefaced his vote with the now widely published statement, “I don’t think Billings is ready at this time.”
Last night the community came together to demonstrate that Billings is indeed ready to protect all residents and visitors from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. HRC joined Pride Foundation, Forward Montana Foundation, Montana Human Rights Network, Not in Our Town Billings and the ACLU of Montana to generate community buzz for the event. “Energized” was the word to describe the vibe during the rally last night, with over 250 people standing together to show support, many wearing our HRC bright orange shirts, demonstrating that Billings IS Ready.
State Rep. Amanda Curtis said to rally supporters, “There’s not a single person on this planet who deserves to be discriminated against when they go to find a job or place to live.” The Rev. Rob Kirby, campus minister at Montana State University Billings said, “We’re not done simply because a vote went the wrong way. Now we’ve found a voice; now is not the time to lose it.”
As a business owner, gay woman and wife, I’m proud of my community and deeply moved by the tenaciousness of many straight allies helping to move Billings forward … we will not give up.
Currently, more than 200 cities and counties nationwide have nondiscrimination ordinances protecting residents and visitors from anti-LGBT discrimination. While Billings might have failed to act, dozens of cities have recently passed new non-discrimination ordinances, including Houston, Atlantic Beach and Danville. Check out HRC’s Municipal Equality Index to learn more about non-discrimination ordinances and other actions cities and towns can take.
Stay tuned to HRC's blog for more updates on Billlings.
Below, Suzie Eades, center, with her wife, Karen Stainton, on her right, and to Liz Welch, ACLU of Montana, on the left.
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