Last night, Helena took another step toward equality. An LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinance was passed by Helena’s City Commission unanimously with five votes. The citywide ordinance prohibits discriminatory acts in employment and housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. However, it only provides some protections in public accommodations. Bill sponsor Katherine Haque-Hausrath was unable to convince her colleagues to eliminate an amendment requiring transgender people to use the locker room that matches their “anatomical sex regardless of their gender identity.” Jamee Greer, Montana Human Rights Network’s LGBT organizer, called the amendment “cowardly.”

“The capital city in Montana has become the second city in the state to pass an ordinance, which is historic,” Greer said. “I’m incredibly proud of all the hundreds of hours of volunteer work; people came to hearings starting in March 2012 and continued to come over and over. It’s a bittersweet victory for me knowing that many transgender people in our community are excluded from part of this ordinance. It feels like I can’t own it.”

While we are aware of the hard work ahead, we are grateful to all the community members who attended and/or testified at the hearings and to the staff at the Montana Human Rights Network for their leadership on this ordinance. Together, we will continue to move our community forward.

Caitlin Copple is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Montana. Email Caitlin.

(Image: Facebook, Bobbie Zenker)

Posted In: Blog, Building Organizations, Blog, Montana