City changes non-discrimination issue to a resolution

The Red Lodge City Council has altered the structure of the non-discrimination debate from an ordinance to a resolution before last week’s council meeting. With the Council receiving numerous con- cerned comments from the public around the county and in the City, Council Member Anna Drew modified it to a resolution. “We are trying to create something that doesn’t have the regulatory feeling,” said Drew. Many business owners and churches have expressed worry about possible damaging side effects with its introduction. City attorney Rebecca Narmore explained, “An Ordinance is more of an enforcement whereas a Resolution is more general.” “You can set fines but it can also be a state- ment made by the council. Just like you had the football team winning the state championship, the City could do a resolution commending them for doing so. A resolution is more relaxed than an ordinance. It is an easier way to go in making a statement the council and the City want to make.” “There are no sanctions or penalties for violations,” said Narmore. “This is not a regu- lation, more a statement ‘we as Red Lodge feel this way.’” The initial NDO was introduced by Drew to create a remedy for any discrimination that could be perpetrated against any transgender or homosexual members of the Red Lodge community. “There is no protection from the federal or state level for those groups,’ she stated at the Aug. 8 meeting. Drew felt it was important to include them. In response to this several members of the public spoke on the issue. Pat French, Red Lodge, said there are already Federal Laws and State Laws in place to prevent discrimination. “So why are we passing a resolution saying we’re going to support the laws,” he said. Ed Hamlin of Bridger said he supported equal rights “but not for special rights for a select group of people.” “You get special rights for some at the expense of others, and the way these have been used throughout the country is a club against businesses, and a piggy bank for trial lawyers. They are divisive. It is a solution looking for a problem, The Red Lodge I know, it is not neces- sary to go down this road, and you get unin- tended consequences that creep in to different things. I’m the father of three daughters, two granddaughters and it leads to shared locker rooms, gang showers. It’s not going to work, (you’re) asking for problems. Vote it down please. We don’t need it.’ Jenn Nelson, Red Lodge, talked of the necessity of such a policy to help the communi- ty develop. “I have read arguments against this resolu- tion that include such challenges as difficulties with enforcements. If we allow this to deter our society from inclusion we would not cur- rently be held to such necessary standards as the American Disabilities Act. If we allow the level of difficulty to steer us we would not be operating with a updated water meters, the collection of TBID dollars and the benefits of a new high school,” said Nelson. “All these were difficult to achieve but necessary to the development to our community.” Nelson said she has lived in Red Lodge for 15 years and has seen both sides of the town’s personality. “I have always presented myself with the truth of who I am, how I live, who I love, and have on some lev- els redefined normal for many people that have come to know and appreciate and love my family. I have lived my life honestly, openly and passionate for the econom- ic and social success for our little town. I love my spouse, my kids and my town,” said Nelson. “I am wit- ness to love, acceptance and support however I have also experienced verbal derisive attacks, and have washed off less than kind remarks scratched into the mud on my vehicle before my young children could see them. I experience both joy and fear, warmth and cold just like all of you, I reach out to each of you to support this resolution not because I am different but because we are the same.” “We have roots here and we come here. This is our county seat. What the City of Red Lodge does, effects us country wide,” said Anna Hamlin, Bridger. “We are going from an ordinance to a resolution which sounds like ordinance lite to me. How in the world is the Red Lodge City council going to keep people scribbling things on her car, you just can’t. That is just bad. Change people’s hearts, you don’t pass laws. Table this whole thing. I don’t believe we need a resolution or an ordinance to protect people like Jenn (Nelson) that get treated poorly. Our job is to treat her well like Christ would.” Dave Westward, Red Lodge, said he understood the spirit of the resolution but felt Red Lodge was “inclu- sive and accepting by nature not by regulation.” “I think this is counter productive. I have seen emotions rise and fear we may be rapidly reaching a state of irreparable harm in continuing and prolonging this discussion. We should state Red Lodge is welcom- ing of all people instead of highlighting one group.” “The resolution is a policy, a statement City govern- ment is saying we’re not going to discriminate, we don’t encourage people to do that, we can condemn people who want to discriminate against different classes,” said Namore. ing.Drew tidied up a few points after the public meet- “There is no revenue source for attorneys, it is not regulatory, so no enforcement,” she said. As to the notion of discrimination she told the pub- lic, “This exists. Just because some of us sit in a posi- tion of privilege and don’t experience these judgments doesn’t mean they are not a part of our community. If you don’t talk about racism it won’t be so bad. Those arguments seem to be defeated over the course of his- tory and I hope they continue to do so.” A working document is being prepared for the next council meeting.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 8:00am
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 9:30am
    Open 2nd and 4th Wednesday 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. 206 N ‘D’ Street. More info 662-1060.
  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Thursday, November 23, 2017 (All day)
    The Red Lodge Carnegie Library will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 23, in observance of Thanksgiving Day.  The library will be open on Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25.