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Hundreds Show Up To NDO Discussion

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BOZEMAN - Hundreds of Bozeman residents came out to the Bozeman City Commission meeting Monday to express their opinions about a nondiscrimination ordinance in the city.

 The commission devoted their entire meeting discussing a proposed draft of nondiscrimination ordinance. More than nearly three hours of that was public comment.

 The public comment was split supporting and opposing a NDO in Bozeman.

 Those in favor of a NDO in Bozeman said the city needs an ordinance because discrimination does exist in the city. 

People giving public comment said they have been either fired or not hired for a job because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. One person gave examples of her car windows being smashed in because she was a transgender woman.

Bill Hanson supports a NDO in Bozeman. He said he saw firsthand discrimination in Bozeman High School when students were bullied for being gay. He said he couldn't’t believe fellow Christians were speaking against the NDO.

“I believe we were called to love all of our neighbors, after all, LBGT folks are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews,” said Hanson.

Zane Williamson said he doesn't’t support an NDO because he feels it will hinder some of his religious freedoms.

“The proposed NDO will elevate the status of one group, the LBGT community, over all others,” said Williamson.  “I oppose the NDO because I fear to lose the freedom to respectfully disagree. I fear no matter how loving and non-violent I am, if I say I disagree with homosexuality I will be punished by this NDO.

Other people giving public comment said the ordinance will create religious discrimination, some even claiming they were attacked because of their opposition.

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Jeff Krauss said this ordinance can’t cure the bullying that goes on at Bozeman High School, or the harassment people face, but does promote equality within the city.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to revise the ordinance based on Monday’s lengthy discussion. They will vote for the ordinance for the first time May 12.

During the policy discussion Monday, Commissioners Cynthia Andrus, Chris Mehl, and Deputy Mayor Carson Taylor said it is time Bozeman passed an ordinance based on some of the testimony they’ve heard of discrimination in the workplace.

Mayor Krauss said at the end of the meeting he would vote in favor of an NDO. Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy wasn’t at Monday’s meeting.

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