“The time is always right to do what is right.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, Montana Governor Steve Bullock celebrated the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr leadership as he signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as pregnancy and childbirth for state employees, state contractors and subcontractors.
In a press conference at Wild Joe’s Coffee in Bozeman today, Governor Bullock affirmed that it is time to “recommit to King’s values of compassion and equity” by expanding protections for LGBT people in Montana. While his executive order applies to state government only, Governor Bullock encouraged “private businesses to examine their policies as well.”
The executive order directs Montana’s Department of Administration to ensure that state agencies, state contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, and childbirth. The order also bans discrimination in the provision of government services, and calls for inclusive non-discrimination and harassment prevention programs with an emphasis on cultural diversity.
It goes into effect immediately.
Montana is one of 31 states that does not have statewide protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Only four Montana cities (Missoula, Helena, Butte and Bozeman) offer those protections, leaving most LGBTQ Montanans with patchwork protections based on where they live, work and travel throughout the state.
There are also no federal laws or regulations that specifically ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy or childbirth.
Montana still needs legislation that explicitly provides equal protection for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Montanans in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations for the private sector. The ACLU has advocated for legislative changes to our state Human Rights Act for many years.
But today, we will celebrate this step forward. Today was the time to do what is right. Thank you to Governor Bullock for his support of dignity, equality and fairness for all with this executive order.
Thank you to the dedicated advocates who have worked for decades on LGBTQ rights. And thank you to those who are LGBTQ and have testified, held signs, wrote letters, and made phone calls during the hearings in city council chambers and the Capitol.
The work continues… and today is a perfect day to recommit to fighting for all Montanans to have equity and equality in our state.
READ THE EXECUTIVE ORDER HERE