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Judiciary committee votes to move Butte nondiscrimination ordinance forward

Published On: Jan 29 2014 10:14:06 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 29 2014 11:06:39 PM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

The Butte Council of Commissioners voted to move the nondiscrimination ordinance to the next step in the process. Four commissioners motioned for and one commissioner voted against moving the ordinance to its second reading.

Commissioner Brendan McDonough was first to motion the nondiscrimination ordinance to the second reading.

"I'm in favor of supporting this ordinance," said McDonough. "I just believe in equal rights, it doesn't add special rights, it just adds equal rights."

The Judiciary Committee debated about whether to make changes to the ordinance, like adding a provision that would not allow transgendered people into locker rooms or bathrooms unless they were born of that sex. But ultimately the committee made no changes and passed it 4 to 1 onto a second reading.

After the vote, Butte residents stepped up to give public comment. Some told the council they made the wrong decision.

Faith Deway told us she doesn't think this law will satisfy the gay, lesbian and transgendered community.

"The main thing is I think it's unnecessary," she said. "And you'll be causing a whole other set of problems."

But Kim Leighton told us this is exactly what they need.

"We believe everybody in the LGBTQ community have the right and should have the freedom to live openly and honestly and authentically," Leighton said. "And right now that's not possible and so that's why we're here."

The second reading will be next week and the Judiciary Committee will vote whether to take the ordinance before the full council.

Here's a breakdown of the ordinance: It would protect gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.  

The ordinance is closely modeled after Missoula's and allows members of the LGBTQ community to seek civil damages in justice court.

Also, like the Missoula law, any person found to be in violation of three or more times in a 12-month period could face a misdemeanor fine of up to $500.