In relation to a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act - ENDA, Missoula, Montana is the micro to the macro of the entire United States.
This is the kind of unified support Transgender, Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay people hope to see from national organizations like the YWCA, the National Organization for Women - NOW and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - NAACP.
If all of the national organizations dedicated to the civil rights of women stood in solidarity behind ENDA, there would be no stopping it.
In baseball parlance, you are on deck waiting to bat and do the right thing. Whether you hit a home run in support or strike out passively remains to be seen.
Women's groups support proposed Missoula anti-discrimination law
By KEILA SZPALLER of the Missoulian | Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 9:45 pm
Denouncing opponents for using a "scare tactic," a coalition of groups that support women declared wholehearted endorsement Tuesday of a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance for Missoula.
The YWCA of Missoula's Caitlin Copple said the protections in the proposed law fit with the YWCA's mission to empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity "for all."
"We feel that really means all people," said Copple, YWCA marketing and communications coordinator. "We know that there are lesbians and transgender people in the community, too, and we feel that they count."
The YWCA of Missoula was among the organizations signing a letter of support sent Tuesday to the Missoula City Council. Other supporters are Montana Women Vote, Women's Resource Center, Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Blue Mountain Clinic, NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, Planned Parenthood of Montana, Women's Opportunity and Resource Development Inc., and American Association of University Women-Montana.
"As organizations that are dedicated to the rights, safety and full participation of women throughout Missoula and Montana, we are proud to announce our public support of the Missoula Non-Discrimination Ordinance," reads the letter.
The proposed legislation would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered folks in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels. The ordinance, slated for a public hearing April 12 in City Council Chambers, would be a first for Montana but one of roughly 130 similar local laws across the country.
The law would protect transgender folks, who are transitioning from one gender to the other or who consider themselves "gender queer." And such protections are warranted, according to a 2009 national study.
The group is subject to high rates of poverty and "significant housing instability," according to a study sponsored by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Results noted that many people who are transgender had to temporarily find different places to sleep, move back in with family or friends, or be evicted. It linked the negative outcomes for transgender people to "challenges they face in employment."
"A large percentage of our sample reports experiencing housing insecurity due to their gender identity, with almost one-fifth becoming homeless because they are transgender," reads part of the survey, posted at MissoulaRedTape.com.
The preliminary findings in the summary counted double the rate of unemployment for people who are transgender compared with the overall population. The report noted data came from 6,456 questionnaires.
A band of mostly anonymous groups called NotMyBathroom.com came out last week against the ordinance, mostly due to fear the law would give sexual offenders license to attack women and children in public restrooms. Chairman Tei Nash said last week he would provide the list of members when he returned to Missoula but he declined to do so Tuesday.
"After I said that, some of the groups came to me," Nash said. "They said if they wanted to address anything in a public sense, they would do that themselves, and they would prefer to stay anonymous."
He said sexual predators are going to use the ordinance as a mask to enter women's restrooms. Nash said those who stop them will be subject to lawsuits and he called for more public feedback on the draft legislation.
"We've got to work through this. This is too dangerous," Nash said.
On its Web site, the group notes it aims to defeat the proposal.
The letter from the women's groups blasted NotMyBathroom.com for spreading misinformation about the ordinance, posted online at Missoulian.com.
"The purpose of the Missoula Non-Discrimination Ordinance is to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender people from discrimination within Missoula city limits, just as people of color, people of faith, and other historically mistreated groups are protected under current state and federal laws," reads the letter. "It does not alter an individual's privacy and safety expectations when it comes to public restrooms. Notmybathroom.com's claim that this bill will make public bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., less safe for women is a deliberate scare tactic. Any individual who enters a women's bathroom to harass or attack women would find no protection in this ordinance."
Councilors Dave Strohmaier and Stacy Rye are sponsoring the ordinance in Missoula, and it's backed among other groups by the Montana Human Rights Network, the ACLU of Montana and Forward Montana.
Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at 523-5262, firstname.lastname@example.org or on MissoulaRedTape.com.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Posted by De Sube at 3/31/2010 04:24:00 PM