Not My Bathroom (NMB) chairman Tei Nash is at it again. For the second time since June, he, along with the group “Right to Vote Missoula,” is asking a Missoula District Court to help put Missoula’s anti-discrimination ordinance up for a citywide vote.
The Missoula City Council passed the ordinance April 13. It provides legal recourse to individuals discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The law is the first of its kind in Montana.
After the law’s passage, NMB attempted several times to gain approval from City Attorney Jim Nugent and Missoula County Clerk and Recorder Vickie Zeier to begin collecting signatures, the first step NMB must take to qualify the issue for a citywide vote. Each time NMB submitted a petition to initiate the voter referendum, Nugent found flaws in the paperwork. The most glaring issue, he said, was the fact that NMB never actually asked to repeal the ordinance, as is required under the law.
Apparently fed up, Right to Vote argued in its June’s court filings that Nugent and Zeier intentionally shut down the group’s attempts to begin the referendum process. Judge Douglas G. Harkin dismissed that complaint June 28. Harkin, elaborating his rationale for doing so, stated in his decision: “Because the petitioners reference neither the statute alleged to have been violated nor the facts which support their application.”
At the end of last month, Right to Vote provided additional evidence and facts in its motion for reconsideration, submitting a 109-page brief. The court agreed today to again evaluate the complaint, which claims the ordinance will unduly affect Missoula businesses and churches.
According to a statement released by Nash and Right to Vote Missoula:
“In addition to great expense for businesses to provide toilet facilities, with the additional peril of lawsuits and loss of business licenses, it could also force ministers to perform homosexual marriages. In addition, Missoula’s taxpayers will probably find themselves paying large attorney fees and court costs when this unconstitutional ordinance is challenged. This could also force the Boy Scouts of American to have homosexual Boy Scout leaders and force them to allow girls to be part of the troops — even though the US Supreme Court has ruled against these requirements.”
Nugent asserts that, even after all of these months, neither NBM nor Right to Vote have fulfilled the legal requirements necessary to launch the referendum process. “We’re waiting for them to propose something that complies with the law,” he says.