Post submitted by Ianthe Metzger, former HRC Deputy Press Secretary
Today, HRC hailed Montana Governor Steve Bullock for signing an executive order that will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees, as well state contractors and subcontractors.
In a press conference earlier today, Governor Bullock celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. day by noting that it is time to “recommit to King’s values of compassion and equity” by expanding protections for LGBT people in Montana. He also spoke to Montana business owners, stating “while an executive order applies to state government only I encourage private businesses to examine their policies as well.”
“Discrimination in any form is wrong, and through his actions today, Governor Bullock has taken a bold step to expand equality and fairness for all,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We commend him for doing everything in his administrative power to fight for the rights of LGBT Montanans, and hope his actions encourage other government officials to make safeguarding protections for all residents and visitors a priority.”
Currently, there is no federal law or regulation that explicitly bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and Montana is one of 31 states where people are at risk of being fired or refused employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans (63 percent) report having faced discrimination in their lives, with workplace discrimination the most frequently reported challenge. Four cities in Montana -- Bozeman, Butte, Helena and Missoula -- currently have non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
The executive order, which goes into effect immediately, will direct Montana’s Department of Administration to ensure that state agencies, state contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order also bans discrimination in the provision of government services, and calls for inclusive non-discrimination and harassment prevention programs with an emphasis on cultural diversity.
In 2008, former Governor Brian Schweitzer issued an executive order that protected state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Today, Governor Bullock continues Schweitzer’s pro-equality legacy by extending those same protections based on gender identity, and banning discrimination on both bases by state contractors and subcontractors.