US: Montana mayor rejects anti-discrimination legislation
The Billings City Council in Montana has rejected an ordinance to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Mayor Tom Hanel cast the deciding vote early Tuesday morning,
The Non-Discrimination Ordinance was struck down by a vote of 6-5. Council members Shaun Brown, Rich McFadden, Denis Pitman, Angela Cimmino, Mike Yakwich and Mayor Hanel all voted against the bill.
Councilmember Brown says he opposed the section that would have barred discrimination in public accommodations such as restrooms and locker rooms.
This same Non-Discrimination Ordinance has been passed in other cities in Montana including Helena, Bozeman, and Butte.
Council members Becky Bird, Jani McCall, Brent Cromley, Al Swanson, and Ken Crouch supported the proposal.
That changed in May when four couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, (ACLU) filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban claiming it violated their right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
In 2013, the Democratic Governor of Montana, Steve Bullock signed into law a bill that decriminalised gay sex, sixteen years after the state’s Supreme Court had ruled the antiquated bill unconstitutional.