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.