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Antidiscrimination ordinance process moves forward in Butte

By KTVM Staff
Published On: Dec 18 2013 10:45:13 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 18 2013 10:58:57 PM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

The Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners took their first look at the newly drafted antidiscrimination ordinance tonight.

"I think that it's true that if it doesn't touch your family, you might not understand it," Theresa McDonald spoke in front of the Commissioners.

On Wednesday night, during the first reading of the newly drafted antidiscrimination ordinance that would protect the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community, people stood in front of the council and shared their personal experiences and opinions on the ordinance.

"It's not a pro-gay law, it's allowing people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, to have the same right that people who are not have," said United Congressional Church Pastor Sandy Van Zyle.

The Council of Commissioners listened.

"I really don't think it's a problem in Butte," said Faith Dewaay. "It goes against other people's rights. We should have the right to politely disagree."

Dewaay told us she is worried about the ordinance being enforceable.

"You really can't look at someone and tell that they're gay," she said. "How are they going to enforce that? Are they going to register at the courthouse?"

On the other hand, John Cummings, the president of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, told us the ordinance is very important.

"I think we need to protect the rights of minorities, and the LGBTQ community is a minority, and they need to have their rights protected," he said.

Andrea Eli has been following this ordinance since the beginning. "We shouldn't need this but the fact that we're going to add this ordinance speaks a lot of our town being a friendly place to hang out and visit," she said.

The ordinance is closely modeled after Missoula's and allows members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community to seek civil damages in justice court. Anyone caught violating the ordinance three or more in times in a 12 month period, could face misdemeanor charges that carry a fine of up to $500.

The next action on the ordinance will be January 8, when the council will vote whether to pass the ordinance.