Guest opinion: Let's ensure freedom, independence for LGBT Montanans

2013-06-18T00:00:00Z Guest opinion: Let's ensure freedom, independence for LGBT MontanansBy MAX BAUCUS U.S. Senator The Billings Gazette
June 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I believe each one of us has the moral obligation to leave this place in as good or better shape than we found it for our kids and grandkids. That responsibility also means making sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed regardless of whom he or she loves. We’re at a decisive moment in our history as Americans because we have the opportunity to achieve that equality.

For many, LGBT Pride Month is a time to reflect on the values of equality and independence. Especially the values we hold dear from the Declaration of Independence: “life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These principles are the cornerstone of our great nation, and are what make it the envy of the world.

During Pride Month, it’s appropriate to consider the ways we’re working to make Montana and our nation a more just society where all can pursue happiness as they see fit, regardless of whom they choose as a partner.

While it seems that not many folks are working together in Congress, I’m proud that we passed a strong Violence Against Women Act this year. The Violence Against Women Act provides $4 million to support 50 Montana programs. And, for the first time ever, it provides protections for our LGBT community. It’s time we recognize that LGBT survivors deserve equal access to these important resources.

In Montana, we believe in personal freedom. We believe the government shouldn’t interfere in the people’s private business. That’s why I agreed to co-sponsor efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

There are more than 1,000 rights and obligations the federal government grants to married couples that same-sex couples are denied. It’s time to end marriage discrimination which is why I supported overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Simply put: The federal government should not be interfering in the personal decision of who an adult chooses as a partner.

When it comes to the workplace, it is unacceptable for anyone to be fired simply because of their sexual orientation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act will help protect workers from this type of discrimination and I look forward to moving forward on this legislation in the Senate as soon as possible. Members of the LGBT community are our neighbors, brothers, sisters and friends. They are community leaders who bring the kind of diversity to our nation that makes it strong.

We all have a role in making sure that Pride Month is not just something we check off on the calendar. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all Americans is what we are called to strive for every day of the year.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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