Residents show up early and prepared for council meeting Monday

2014-08-11T18:47:00Z 2014-08-12T11:52:07Z Residents show up early and prepared for council meeting MondayBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Supporters of the nondiscrimination ordinance were busy distributing donated pitas, chips and bottles of water to those waiting to testify Monday afternoon — proponents and opponents alike.

“We are offering food and water to anyone who looks like they might want it — or need it,” said NDO proponent Liz Welch, LGBT advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. “If we’re about dignity and fairness, we should also be about taking care of people.”

Courtney Nelson said proponents were there to support one another before and after testifying before the Billings City Council.

“It can be emotional, nasty — and long,” she said about an hour before Monday’s meeting began. “People can come in here (at the First Congregational United Church of Christ) and watch it on TV if they want.”

People began lining up outside council chambers at about 2:30 Monday afternoon for the 6:30 p.m. meeting. Six Billings police officers — including two lieutenants — were in council chambers to assure an orderly process.

It was easy to tell opponents from proponents as they waited for the NDO — the final item on Monday’s agenda — to be heard. Opponents generally dressed in white shirts, while proponents were decked out in orange T-shirts.

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