Butte residents sound off on proposed antidiscrimination ordinance


BUTTE, Mont. - The Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners listened to public comment about an ordinance that would protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

People were lined up outside the doors with more than 100 folks in attendance.

The people who spoke were split down the middle. Advocates and opponents brought up religious and civil rights issues.

If an antidiscrimination law is passed, Butte will become the third Montana city to adopt a similar ordinance, behind Missoula and Helena. The law would protect the LGBT community from unfair treatment in hiring, housing and business practices.

"It's not just for LGBT Montanans or the LGBT members of the community, it's really for everyone in Butte to make a statement that we are a warm, inclusive and welcoming community," said Niki Zupanic.

"I think it'll make the divide greater than it already is," said Rose Everett Martin. "Also I think the way it's written it'll bring law suits from both sides of this issue and make the conversation harder."

The ordinance is closely modeled after Missoula's ordinance and allows members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community to seek civil damages in justice court.

Anyone caught violating the ordinance three or more in times in a 12-month period could face misdemeanor charges that carry a fine of up to $500.

We're told commissioners will make a decision at the next committee meeting of the whole.

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