Non-discrimination ordinance sparks contention
The Helena City Commission unanimously approved the initial passage of a non-discrimination ordinance, Monday evening, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
City Commissioner Dick Thweat says Montana state law protects citizens from discrimination, but leaves out an important issue.
Thweat says, "It does not on the base of gender identity or sexual orientation."
The ordinance would protect against discrimination on these 2 factors, in employment, housing and public accommodations. Three amendments were added to the ordinance. The most contentious, Thweat's amendment excluding areas, like locker rooms, where people appear in the nude. He says he proposed the amendment to protect women
Thweat says, "I thought a good many women would be uncomfortable by having a person in a male body share a locker room with them."
Several propionates of the ordinance spoke out against the amendment.
Helena citizen proponent says, "My experience with transgender people is that they're very modest too. The only reason they would use the bathroom is to relieve themselves or to use the facilities."
While others say they agree with the amendment, but do not support the ordinance.
Helena resident against the ordinance says, "I have 3 granddaughters and I am not interest in sending them to a Helena municipal school if Transgender individuals can be in the same bathroom
City commissioner Katherine Haque-Hausrath used social media to express her concerns with the amendment, saying it would allow for discrimination and is unworkable and unenforceable.
She goes on to say even with the amendment, the ordinance will protect transgender people in other public accommodations. She says overall, the ordinance is good for the Helena community. Haque-Hausrath says this ordinance is good for the Helena community.
Katherine Haque-Hausrath says, "I think this actually shows a great move forward for equality and justice that we are doing this."
For anyone interested in commenting, there will be a public hearing on December 17th.
Story by Kelley Smith, Beartooth NBC.
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