Leaders of the gay rights movement around the country are returning home following a series of discussions with top Washington D.C. officials, including the Obama Administration.
The White House invited one Montanan to the one-day roundtable–Montana Human Rights Network Organizer Jamee Greer.
The Seattle-based Pride Foundation recommended Greer for the D.C. visit. Pride says Greer’s advocacy through the Montana Human Rights Network makes him a national leader in the LGBT movement. Greer helped establish a community-wide nondiscrimination ordinance in Missoula..
He visited the White House with LGBT leaders from more than 30 other states, discussing gay-rights issues with the Obama Administration before attending a Bar-B-Que at Vice President Joe Biden’s residence. Greer feels humbled to be chosen—and saw this kind of national exposure as a unique opportunity for him to talk about Montana.
“I feel like the national discussion can largely center around same-sex marriage, which is important but in Montana we have some significant disparities,” Greer said. He faults what he calls Montana’s patchwork of legal protection for LGBT residents. It’s a patchwork that he says confuses people.
“It confuses, I think, well-meaning people who just assume LGBT Montanans are covered by the Civil Rights Act or the Montana Human Rights Act and don’t understand that we’re not,” Greer said.
Greer says problems faced by gay Montanans are similar to a few other northwestern states, namely Idaho and Alaska. Still, Greer says there have been many improvements in gay rights in Montana over the last few years.
“As an LGBT American, as a gay Montanan I can say that at all levels, local statewide and federal my life is certainly much better,” Greer said.
He says the Montana Human Rights Network will be promoting a bill to create a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to Missoula’s for the whole state.