Bozeman, Mont., Gives Preliminary OK to Antibias Law

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com May 13 2014 7:38 PM ET

Bozeman, Mont., is on its way to having an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance, with members of the City Commission having given preliminary approval by a unanimous vote Monday.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports. The measure is subject to a second vote, scheduled for June 2, before it becomes law. It would go into effect 30 days after a second positive vote.

Due to amendments approved Monday, the ordinance exempts not only churches but also some church-affiliated organizations, such as religious schools, from the employment provisions and, in certain instances, from the public accommodations portion. In public accommodations, the exemption would cover activities that are primarily religious in nature. A local technology entrepreneur, Greg Gianforte, had urged the commission to make broader exemptions, but the commission did not go with his recommendations, the Chronicle notes. 

Some of the commissioners spoke of Bozeman, home to Montana State University, as an inclusive city. “This great community accepted me,” said I-Ho Pomeroy, an immigrant from South Korea. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people are also part of this community. Everyone is welcome here. That is why I support this ordinance.”

Montana does not have an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law at the state level. A few other cities in the state have adopted measures like Bozeman’s, and Bozeman already banned discrimination in municipal employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jamee Greer of the Montana Human Rights Network praised the ordinance. “I think the final ordinance that came out is a strong document,” Greer told the Chronicle. “This is something that wasn’t rushed and something the community has been working on for years now.”