On Thursday, Feb. 20, the ASMSU Senate discussed whether or not to pass a resolution in support of a Bozeman city ordinance implementing a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) non-discrimination policy. Last year ASMSU approved a policy for the non-discrimination of LGBTQ individuals on campus, and if this resolution is passed, it will extend their support to the city as well as the university.
City ordinances similar to the one being considered have been passed in Missoula, Helena and Butte. Bozeman currently does not have a law which protects the rights of LGBTQ citizens in the areas of housing and the workplace.
The discussion at the senate meeting attracted many students and community members on both sides of the issue for public comment. There were 20 people in opposition and 10 supporters in attendance.
One of the main arguments against having this city ordinance is religiously-based: is extending rights to LGBTQ individuals taking away the religious freedoms of others by forcing people to accommodate something against their beliefs within private business? Kiah Abbey, an MSU student in the College of Letters and Science and former student body president, argues no. “By giving rights to another, you do not lose rights because rights are not finite,” she said during the senate meeting.
According to Abbey, churches will be exempt from some of the policies implemented by the city ordinance regarding the rights of LGBTQ citizens, as the ordinance would apply under the same parameters of the Montana Human Rights Act. In this act, churches and other non-profits are not regarded as employers under the guidelines and therefore are not subject to the ordinance unless they are operating as a business.
The original senate resolution being deliberated at last week’s meeting was titled “City of Bozeman Adoption of an LGBTQ Inclusive Non-Discrimination Ordinance.” People expressed their concern about ASMSU supporting the adoption of an ordinance which has not yet been written, drawing the parallel to signing a blank check. “We don’t know what’s in this ordinance,” said Patrick Hansen, chaplain of Campus Ministries at MSU.
In response to this argument, the senate amended the resolution to be in support of the drafting of an ordinance rather than the adoption of an ordinance. Later, they will decide whether or not to support the draft after reviewing the exact document. The revised resolution was tabled until the senate’s next meeting, which will take place on Thursday Feb. 27 in SUB 235.
Bozeman Employment Anti-Discrimination Policies
The City of Bozeman does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, creed, sex, age, marital status, national origin, political ideas, or disability. This relates to all aspects of employment, and to the use of all facilities and participation in all City-sponsored activities. This policy does not preclude discrimination based on bona fide occupational qualifications or other recognized exceptions under the law.
As an employee of the City of Bozeman, you are entitled to work in an environment free of discrimination. Racial, sexual or ethnic remarks or slurs and other forms of harassment are not tolerated.