At Monday night's City Council meeting, the council voted 7-4 against adding the Welcoming Diversity Ordinance to a future council agenda for discussion. However, the topic has since been taking over Facebook discussions this week.

Primarily, the aim of the ordinance was to introduce legal protections for the LGBTQ members of the Billings Community because currently there aren't sufficient protections in place to protect them from being discriminated against. Council member Penny Ronning, who proposed the WDO, shared this before the council meeting:

 

It's important to note, too, that the ordinance made exceptions for churches, religious organizations, and property owners. The counter-argument claimed the ordinance would discriminate against religious business owners who found serving LGBTQ citizens at odds with their faith.

While I suspect the outcome is a relief for some Billings residents, it's heartbreaking for others. As the aftermath unfolded on social media, one response stuck out in particular: now is the time to identify those businesses that do support the LGBTQ community, and to frequent them.

There's actually a list that already exists on the Pride Foundation website. As part of their #Open2All initiative, Montana businesses can participate for the purpose of identifying as safe spaces for the LGBTQ community. Right now, there are nine Billings businesses on their list. From the Pride foundation website:

BILLINGS

  1. Brighter Sky Counseling
  2. Bryan Somers Realtor
  3. Chinook Horses
  4. Deb’s Dancewear & Uniforms
  5. Kinesi Coaching Studios
  6. Mayflower Congregational UCC
  7. Sandstone Counseling Services
  8. Transformative Counseling LLC
  9. Tumbleweed

There are also 74 businesses listed for Bozeman, 28 for Butte, 25 for Great Falls, 87 for Helena, 12 for Kalispell, 26 for Missoula, and 26 in rural communities including Ennis, Gardiner, Hardin, Lewiston, Miles City, and Whitefish among others.

The national nondiscrimination campaign Open to All also has resources to help businesses show their support. In their database, the following Billings businesses are listed:

  1. Bin 119
  2. Blue Creek Boat & RV & Mini Storage
  3. H&M - Rimrock Mall
  4. H'Om Wellness
  5. Michaels Craft Store - Marketplace Center Billings
  6. Old Navy - Market Place - Mt
  7. SpringHill Suites
  8. TownePlace Suites

My understanding from the conversations on Facebook is that other lists are being compiled of Billings businesses that support the LGBTQ Community. As these lists are made public, we'll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, for those LGBTQ who are troubled by Monday night's outcome, know that there are people in Billings who support you, and those who want your business.

If you do own a business in Billings and would like to participate in the #Open2All Initiative, follow this link.