Ward 5 Councilman Dick Haines had some people scratching their heads when he voted “yes” early Tuesday morning for the city's new anti-discrimination law. The alderman's strategy became clearer when he spoke with KGVO radio host Peter Christian Tuesday morning for on-air broadcast. Haines explained to Christian that state and municipal law enables elected representatives who log a “yes” vote to bring legislation up again for formal discussion at a later date.
“I thought, well, this one might be an opportunity to bring back some of the concerns I have with this thing and get them out in front of the public,” Haines said during the KGVO interview.
But it’s not likely Haines can derail or significantly alter the new ordinance, says Stacy Rye, who co-authored the law. That would likely require more council votes than Haines can muster, especially in light of the decisive 10-2 vote Tuesday morning.
“My guess would be he doesn’t have those eight votes,” she says.
Haines’ move comes as Dallas Erickson makes it known that his Not My Bathroom group, which has for weeks lobbied opposition to the anti-discrimination ordinance, aims to gather enough signatures to qualify the issue for a voter referendum to place on next year’s general election ballot. The goal, he told KECI, is overturning the new law.
But Rye and others say social conservatives don’t have much of a chance to reverse the new protections in liberally minded Missoula. More importantly, though, Rye wonders why anyone would want to reverse legislation that helps all people access the same opportunities.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to repeal someone else’s civil rights,” she says.