How To Make Your Voice Heard On Great Falls LGBTQ+ Proposed Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Citizen comments concerning the proposed Great Falls LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination ordinance are being received by the City of Great Falls and the Great Falls City Commission.

Click here for the City Attorney’s opinion on the proposal. The opinion also contains the full text of the proposed ordinance.

The City Commission scheduled a special work session to hear public comment for September 8. Please see the City Clerk’s response to written comments already received below.

The information here is very helpful and will answer your questions about how you can participate.

“Thank you for your comments.

Your comments will be shared with the City Commission and appropriate staff for consideration at the upcoming work session.  A special work session meeting regarding this topic is scheduled for September 8th from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in the Commission Chambers Room 206, Civic Center, 2 Park Drive South.

Due to the COVID-19 health concerns, public participation is welcomed as follows:

  • Attend in person. Refrain from attending in person if you are not feeling well.  The City will require social distancing at the meeting, and may, if necessary, limit the number of persons in the Commission Chambers according to applicable health guidelines.
  • **Provide public comments in writing or via email. Comments may be sent in writing to City Clerk Lisa Kunz, P.O. Box 5021, Great Falls, MT  59403, or via email to so that it is received before 12:00 PM on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.  Written communication received by that time will be shared with the City Commission and appropriate City staff for consideration before the work session, and will be so noted in the official record of the meeting.
  •  Call-in. The public may call in during specific public comment periods at 406-761-4786.  All callers will be in a queued system and are asked to remain on hold and be patient.  Calls will be taken in the order in which they are received.  Callers will be restricted to time limits.  We ask for your patience in the event there are technical difficulties.

** Due to limited seating and time restriction of three hours, written public comment as set forth above is encouraged.  If you have submitted written comments, please do not duplicate your comments by also calling-in during the meeting so as to allow time for others to be heard. 

Additional meeting format information may be included on the agenda at the time of posting the agenda for the work session (September 3, 2020):

The meeting will be lived streamed on the internet at:, and will air live on cable channel 190 beginning at 5:30 pm.”

Tryon Calls For Apology From Taylor & GF LGBTQ+ Board

Earlier in July the Great Falls City Commission asked that our City Attorney, Sara Sexe, conduct a review and provide us with some research and analysis of the local nondiscrimination ordinance, NDO, being proposed by the Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center board.

Ms. Sexe responded to our request and provided a fairly extensive analysis covering several aspects of the issue including a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Bostock vs Clayton County, similar proposals in other Montana cities, and a 2016 executive order issued by Governor Bullock which prohibits discrimination in state employment.

The City Attorney’s legal opinion is that a Great Falls NDO is not necessary. You can read Sexe’s full 15 page opinion here.

Originally the Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center issued a simple statement that their board ‘strongly disagreed’ with Sexe’s analysis and opinion. So far so good, disagreement is perfectly legitimate.

But then in a ‘press conference’ yesterday GF LGBTQ+ president and spokesperson Jasmine Taylor took the next step and accused our City Attorney of being ‘misleading’ and ‘false’ in her legal analysis and opinion.

“We believe it is vital to address the disappointing and misleading statement from the City Attorney…the claim that explicit protections already exist in housing and accommodations at the state level is false.” said Taylor, apparently reflecting the LGBTQ board’s position.

She then went on further to say that Sexe’s legal opinion was “…an attempt to use this Order (Governor’s 2016 EO) to dismiss the needs of the LGBTQ+ community in Great Falls.”

In addition Taylor, in reference to the Bostock SCOTUS decision, stated “The city attorney is using this ruling as a cop-out.”

Finally, Taylor concludes the attack on City Attorney Sexe by saying, “As a public servant, lay people rely on perceived legal expertise. We find the argument against the NDO to be misleading.”

‘Percieved legal expertise’? City Attorney Sexe has a long and outstanding career as a highly educated and competent legal professional. From which esteemed institution did Ms. Taylor get her law degree and what experience and education does she have that qualifies her to refer to our City Attorney’s legal expertise as ‘perceived’?

So, just to recap, because Taylor and the Great Falls LGBTQ+ board didn’t like or agree with Sexe’s legal analysis and opinion they decided to revert to personal attacks against her, accusing her of intentionally being ‘misleading’, dismissing the needs of citizens, making ‘false’ statements in her legal opinion, and being a ‘cop out’.

Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to these folks that it’s possible to disagree with the legal analysis without impugning the motivations and character of the person offering that analysis.

I would admonish the board of the LGBTQ+ Center to not engage in ad hominem attacks against our city employees for simply doing their job as requested by the City Commission and the City Manager.

Hey, if you want to launch unnecessary personal attacks and employ sneaky little smear tactics I’ll be your huckleberry. I’m an elected official, so step right up, I’m easy to find and ready to respond.

But for now I think Democrat candidate for local HD22, Jasmine Taylor, and the Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center board owe our City Attorney an apology for the unwarranted personal attack on her. Forthwith.

Great Falls LGBTQ Center’s NDO Proposal

Kudos to the Great Falls LGBTQ Center for making their draft proposal for a local non-discrimination ordinance available to the public on their Facebook page. Our community deserves transparency and plenty of time to analyze, study and fully vet the information before beginning the formal process of taking public comment and considering the proposal.

Below is the text of the proposal as posted on the LGBTQ Center’s Facebook page.

“This is the NDO draft we are asking the Commission to consider.

State and/or federal law prohibits the denial of civil rights or discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, pregnancy, marital status, familial status (solely for housing), and physical or mental disability. In addition to these protections, it is the intent of the city of Great Falls that no person shall be denied his or her civil rights or be discriminated against based upon his or her sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The city commission declares that such discrimination prohibitions are necessary and desirable because existing state and federal laws regarding discrimination do not expressly or clearly address all discriminatory acts reported by the city’s diverse residents. Therefore, the city deems it necessary to adopt local regulations adapted to the needs of its citizens. Nothing in this chapter is intended, however, to conflict with such state and federal laws, or to alter or abridge other rights, protections, or privileges secured by state or federal law, including state and federal constitutional protections of freedom of speech and exercise of religion. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions apply:

DISCRIMINATION: “Discrimination”, “discriminate” or “discriminatory” means any act, policy, or practice that has the effect of unfavorably subjecting any person to different or separate treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, or because of their association with a person or group of people so identified. “Discrimination”, “discriminate” or “discriminatory” also means any act, policy, or practice that has the effect of unfavorably subjecting any person to different or separate treatment on the belief that a person has a particular sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, even if that belief is incorrect.

EMPLOYEE: An individual employed by an employer.

EMPLOYER: An employer of one or more persons or an agent of the employer, but not including a fraternal, charitable, or religious association or corporation unless the association or corporation is organized either for private profit or to provide accommodations or services that are available on a nonmembership basis.

EMPLOYMENT AGENCY: A person undertaking to procure employees or opportunities to work.

GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION: A gender related identity, expression, or behavior, regardless of the individual’s sex at birth.

HOUSING ACCOMMODATION: A building or portion of a building, whether constructed or to be constructed, that is or will be used as the home, domicile, residence, or sleeping quarters of its occupants.

LABOR ORGANIZATION: An organization or an agent of an organization organized for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining, of dealing with employers concerning grievances or terms or conditions of employment, or of other mutual aid and protection of employees.

PERSON: One or more individuals, labor unions, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint stock companies, trusts, unincorporated employees’ associations, employers, employment agencies, organizations, or labor organizations.

PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION: A place that caters or offers its services, goods, or facilities to the general public, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable to all persons. It includes, without limitation, a public inn, restaurant, eating house, hotel, roadhouse, place where food or alcoholic beverages or malt liquors are sold for consumption, motel, soda fountain, soft drink parlor, tavern, nightclub, trailer park, resort, campground, barbering, cosmetology, electrology, aesthetics, or manicuring salon or shop, bathroom, rest house, theater, swimming pool, skating rink, golf course, cafe, ice cream parlor, transportation company, hospital, and all other public amusement and business establishments.

Public accommodation does not include an institution, club, or place of accommodation that proves that it is, by its nature, distinctly private. An institution, club, or place of accommodation may not be considered by its nature distinctly private if it has more than one hundred (100) members, provides regular meal service, and regularly receives payment for dues, fees, use of space, facilities, services, meals, or beverages, directly or indirectly, from or on behalf of nonmembers, for the furtherance of trade or business. For the purposes of this definition, any lodge of a recognized national fraternal organization is considered by its nature distinctly private.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Heterosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)

A. No employer shall discriminate in the employment, failure to hire, refusal to hire, compensation, work classification, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, including promotion, demotion, or termination of employment.

B. No employer shall fail or refuse to refer for employment, or give negative information to a potential employer of an individual, in such a manner that would deprive or limit an individual’s employment opportunities or that would otherwise adversely affect an individual’s status as an applicant or prospective employee, for a discriminatory reason.

C. No labor organization shall discriminate in limiting membership, conditions of membership, or termination of membership of any person in any labor union or apprenticeship program.

D. No employment agency shall discriminate in the procurement or recruitment of any person for possible employment with an employer. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)

It shall be unlawful for a place of public accommodation to deny, directly or indirectly, any person full and equal access or enjoyment of the goods, services, activities, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations for a discriminatory reason. (Ord. 3224, 1-9-2017)

It is unlawful for any person, owner, manager, employee, or any entity whose business includes engaging in any residential real estate related transactions to discriminate in the sale, lease or rental of any housing facility, or to otherwise discriminate in the terms, conditions, maintenance, improvement, or repair of any housing facility. The rental of sleeping rooms in a private residence designed as a single dwelling unit in which the owner also resides is excluded from this section provided that the owner rents no more than three (3) sleeping rooms within the residence. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)

No person shall coerce, threaten, discharge, expel, blacklist, or otherwise retaliate against another person for opposing any practices prohibited by this chapter, making a complaint, or assisting in an investigation or proceeding regarding an alleged violation of this chapter; nor shall any person require, request, conspire with, assist, or coerce another person to retaliate against a person for making a complaint or assisting in an investigation or proceeding. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)

Any illegal discrimination specifically addressed by Montana state law shall be submitted to the Montana department of labor and industry, human rights bureau, pursuant to title 49, chapters 2 and 3, Montana Code Annotated (MCA), for processing by the state of Montana.

Any person claiming a violation of this chapter may seek civil remedies, injunctive relief, attorney fees or other equitable relief by petitioning the Great Falls municipal court. Prior to the filing of any petition in Great Falls municipal court under this chapter, a person must have:

A. Filed or sought to file a timely complaint with the Montana human rights bureau alleging discrimination in employment, public accommodations or housing, or retaliation; and

B. Received a written disposition of the complaint from the Montana human rights bureau, Montana department of labor and industry hearings bureau, Montana human rights commission, or any Montana court indicating that the acts of alleged discrimination or retaliation underlying the complaint do not fall within the scope of the Montana human rights act.

For purposes of this section, the term “timely” shall mean filed with the Montana human rights bureau within the time frames set forth in section 49-2-501, Montana Code Annotated.

Any person claiming a violation of this chapter must file a petition with the Great Falls municipal court within ninety (90) days of receipt of the written disposition referenced in subsection B of this section.

The initiation of or the granting of relief under a grievance procedure shall not preclude or limit any other claims or remedies available under this chapter. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this chapter is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. The city commission hereby declares that it would have passed this chapter and each section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, and words thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, phrases or words have been declared invalid or unconstitutional, and if for any reason this chapter should be declared invalid or unconstitutional, then the remaining ordinance provisions will remain in full force and effect. (Ord. 3162, 12-17-2012)”