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NDO is not a religious issue

2014-06-09T00:00:00Z 2014-06-09T09:38:21Z NDO is not a religious issue The Billings Gazette
June 09, 2014 12:00 am

I support the Non Discrimination Ordinance. This is a civil issue and not a religious issue. Safety and inclusion in the city's commerce for 100 percent of our citizens is paramount. Religious life and beliefs are not at issue and need not be considered.

One should not fear harassment or bodily harm for walking to the car after a movie nor fear being beaten up for simply walking on a city street, as my gay son experienced. Discrimination toward the LGBT Community leads to an abridgement of one's safety and intimidation to the degree that one cannot safely be engaged in public commerce.

The LGBT community also pays taxes to support the city's infrastructure, including water, sewer, streets, police and fire protection. Because all city businesses and services benefit from the infrastructure, 100 percent of the people must feel safe and have access to city businesses and housing.

Because city policies are inconsistent, an NDO will move toward greater consistency and fairness. For example, a city police officer stationed in our schools with policies against bullying is charged with protecting all students from bullies and does not reason whether a kid is gay before intervening. Is this officer violating current city policy?

Another officer in our community, viewing a person whose safety is in jeopardy, will act and ought not be scolded for so doing. But is this officer also violating city policy?

If the city lacks an NDO, can the perpetrator be cited if his motive for physically attacking the person was because the person gay or transgender?

I respectfully ask the City Council to recognize this is as a civil issue dealing with safety and inclusion of our LGBT neighbors and not a religious matter.

Theodore Clark

Billings

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