This week is the 5th anniversary of the date I joined the staff of ACLU of Montana to work for LGBT equality on the Fair is Fair Montana campaign.  In a moment of perfect synchronicity, this week will also be when I hand off my ACLU of Montana involvement in LGBTQ work to the incredible local staff.  But I won’t be completely gone from the work here as I move into working full time for the  Out for Freedom/ LGBT Project at ACLU’s national office.

Five years ago, Fair is Fair Montana launched as the public education campaign supporting our litigation on the Donaldson case for domestic partnership.  Due to the political landscape in Montana at the time, domestic partnership was the best chance for securing legal relationship recognition for same sex couples. 

So much has happened in five years.  What started as a public education campaign for domestic partnership evolved into a dynamic relationship working in conjunction with our coalition to strengthen LGBTQ protections for those who live, work and visit the Big Sky State. 

We held thousands of one on one conversations about basic fairness for LGBTQ Montanans with folks from Kalispell to Glendive in their homes, in their churches and in their businesses. We’ve held phone conversations about equality with hundreds of people and we’ve met them on the streets to have them sign petitions. 

We passed a total of 5 municipal nondiscrimination ordinances. We assisted students in their desire to facilitate Gay Straight Alliances in multiple schools.

We’ve joined with friends, families, clergy and community members to stage counter rallies of some of the most hateful messengers against our LGBTQ community including the Westboro Baptist Church and local organizations that promulgate dangerous rhetoric.

And the ACLU of Montana’s marriage equality lawsuit secured the dignity and legal recognition for same sex couples and their families in many ways. 

But the ACLU of Montana’s work for the LGBTQ community is not finished.  There is so much more work to be done to secure legal protections against LGBTQ people in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.  We must continue to advocate and litigate against implicit discrimination against youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  And we must continue to be vigilant in defending against harmful legislation and advancing proactive legislation that will improve the lives of many Montanans.

For me, I am proud of the work I’ve done for Fair is Fair Montana as a staff member of the ACLU of Montana. I am not finished with my work for fairness for all. I’m happy that I’m staying in the ACLU family with my move to the national offices of ACLU.  You’ll see me continuing the work that I have done in states  like South Dakota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and several others to continue to amplify the voices ofLGBTQ folks and transgender youth, LGBT supportive clergy and people of faith, and businesses who believe that it is better to be inclusive, kind and fair.  And my heart will always be with the LGBTQ community in Montana. 

Today, I am taking the Fair is Fair Montana website down and moving it to the main website. I am consolidating our lists of supporters and those who wish to stay engaged in the work moving forward. 

If you are interested in staying engaged in the work for dignity, fairness and security for Montana’s LGBTQ community, please consider one or more of the following:

Thank you for all you have done to help further the conversation about what matters to Montanans and continually demonstrating that we trulybelieve that Fair is Fair in Montana and beyond.

Ever vigilant,
Liz Welch