JACKSON HOLE, WYO – With a unanimous vote at the 3rdreading of Ordinance M last night, town council put a bow on the work begun by former Mayor Sara Flitner in 2015 by passing a nondiscrimination ordinance.
Mayor Pete Muldoon and the council were able to continue with the groundwork laid by the previous board. Where an ordinance pulled up short in December 2015—watered down as a resolution over legal concerns—this council had better buy-in from town attorney Audrey Cohen Davis, who crafted an NDO based on similar legislation in Crested Butte, Vail, and Aspen.
While it remains to be seen whether the town will ever see a case to test the ordinance as far as enforcement or constitutionality, the passage of law was heralded by dozens in the local LGBTQ community, or at least supporters of the cause in attendance, as a moral victory.
Andrew Munz, who has led the way as an articulate spokesperson using the issue as a ‘coming out’ party of sorts, celebrated Monday night’s vote by immediately hoisting the gay pride flag inside town hall chambers.
Slam dunk not without intrigue
For an outcome that promised little in the way of surprises (the vote was unanimous at two prior readings with strong feelings from the mayor, as well as councilors Jim Stanford, Don Frank, and Hailey Morton Levinson) Monday night’s meeting still managed high emotion dripping with drama.
Those opposed to the ordinance—mainly preachers and purists—argued the NDO would cause reverse discrimination, called for a moral compass to be defined as either the mayor or God, or at best needlessly created a special class of citizen.
Opposition waned Monday, however, with just seven asking the council to change course against some 18 supporters—all of whom expressed their feelings during a public comment period that at times felt like a Jerry Springer taping.
There were tears, jeers, applause and some honest levity during tense moments. Claudia Morrow, a self-professed lesbian made reference to comments made by Pastor Kevin Rosen of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Pinedale at a town meeting on July 2. Rose somewhat callously equated subjective gender identification to something no different than one declaring oneself to feel like a dog and therefore find it acceptable and lawful to urinate or have sex anywhere in public he or she or it wanted.
“That might be a comparison better fitting for Hill Climb weekend,” Morrow jested.
Rev. David Bott of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jackson, again spoke in opposition despite being, as he said, 0 for 2 in trying to persuade the council against the ordinance.
“You all three have said you are voting your morality,” Bott challenged the council, speaking to Muldoon, Frank, and Stanford. “Yours over ours, over mine. Your worldview over mine. Your religion over mine.”
Becky Hawkins accused religious leaders of hiding behind their religion in order to spew hate and bigotry. “God does not know hate. Apparently only you do,” she said.
Just before casting a vote to pass the law, Stanford said, “Tonight I’m proud of our community. A community that is standing up for equality in the equality state.”
Muldoon admitted to being impressed by the community’s compassion, empathy, and love for one another. “It makes me really happy to live in Jackson right now,” he said, noting that he looks forward to a day when a law like the NDO was not needed but added, “We need it today.”
Read the entire ordinance: Ordinance M (NDO)