A few years ago the city council and the City of Billings were told that it was not the right time to pass a Non-Discrimination Ordinance. The initiative failed to pass by one vote. "When is the right time?" was not defined.
Each year the city council has the opportunity to review the city charter. The responsibility of the council is to provide "equal and adequate service and protections ... with respect to the health, safety and welfare of every citizen." The time is always now.
A Non-Discrimination Ordinance is required to include the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender citizens of our city. Personal, religious or moral beliefs cannot be used to vote against these individuals who are our friends, neighbors and family members.
Our Montana State Constitution posits: "The dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws." The state Legislature and city councils think they have the right to ignore the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people because they are not specifically identified in the constitution or charters. If the state will not act, then cities must pass ordinances to assure equal protections for all.
A group of concerned citizens will invite our mayor and city council to attend a meeting at Grace United Methodist Church on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 1 p.m., to discuss a Non-Discrimination Ordinance for Billings. Anyone wanting to see such an ordinance move forward is invited.
The Rev. Kenneth Crouch
The Rev. Sarah Beck
The Rev. Steven Gordon
Rabbi Dr. Uri Barnea
Dr. Walter Gullick
The Rev. Dwight Welch
The Rev. Amy Carter
Ms. Ann Hanson
The Rev. Marc Stewart