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The Billings Non Discrimination Ordinance

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

If you were driving downtown yesterday, you may have seen the protesters waving signs outside the Billings City Council meeting.  Of course, they are all fired up about the proposed “Non Discrimination Ordinance”.

At the meeting, people spoke on both sides of the debate.  Here’s two reasons why the Flakes aren’t for it or against it.

1.  We already have anti-discrimination laws on the books.  Discrimination is already illegal in the city of Billings.  If a gay couple wants to rent an apartment, the landlord cannot legally refuse to rent to them.  The new ordinance is a symbolic way for the city to publicly announce they won’t tolerate discrimination, which they already don’t.  Nothing will change.

Missoula, Bozeman and Helena already have similar ordinances, so obviously we need one too.  At the meeting last night, some folks argued that this ordinance will only confuse local police about what laws they can enforce.  They noted that, in the cities that have passes similar laws, there has yet to be one arrest.

2.  It’s gonna pass.  Whenever politicians have the chance to make a symbolic rule that serves no purpose other than making them look good, they’ll vote for it every time.  Real proposals that may actually affect positive change in the community, well that’s a different story.  And, of course, the Mayor is in favor of it.   He’s in favor of everything.

For those who are in favor of the new ordinance, congratulations.  Those against it, don’t worry, it won’t change anything.

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