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Butte-Silver Bow to draft antidiscrimination ordinance to protect LGBT community

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Nov 26 2013 10:07:40 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 26 2013 11:02:47 PM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

Butte-Silver Bow Commissioners give the green light to draft a nondiscrimination ordinance protecting gays and lesbians.

Advocates of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered rights applauded the Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners Tuesday night when they gave the approval to draft an antidiscrimination ordinance.

"Everyone in our community deserves the right to take legal action whether they're black or Irish or in a wheel chair, so what's it different for our gay and lesbian neighbors to have those same protections that they don't have right now?" said Eddie Zinpel, an LGBT supporter.

Zinpel was in the crowd and said he lived in Missoula, and then in Helena, when similar ordinances were passed in those cities.

He and the Butte Chapter President of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG said they believe this is well overdue in Butte.

"This is part of our advocate role," said PFLAG Butte President John Cummings, "is trying to get the nondiscrimination ordinance passed in Butte."

Members of Butte's PFLAG group expressed why they thought this ordinance would be so important, and what they would ideally like to see from the law.

"We think that that's important in three areas -- public accommodation, which means businesses that sell to the public, and employment and housing," Cummings explained.

Butte-Silver Bow's County Attorney Eileen Joyce told council members she would draft an ordinance similar to the ones Helena and Missoula have on the books, which would make it illegal for businesses, employers, and landlords to refuse LGBT members just because of their identity.
 
"We think it's time to send the state legislature a message that they need to kind of deal with this on a state level so not every community doesn’t have to go through this effort to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance," Cummings said.

There was opposition to both the Missoula and Helena laws. Proponents expect opposition, but for now the ordinance has to be drafted before council members can hear public comment and make a decision.

Now that the judiciary committee has given their approval to move forward, the County Attorney will write up a draft of the proposed ordinance. The ordinance will have to pass through three stages of council voting before becoming law.

The council said they plan to hold a public meeting for the community to voice their opinions.