This happened while I was gone for the weekend, but this item on the antidiscrimination front is a first for me in the four years I've been blogging here at Bilerico so I should make sure it gets on this site.
The Montana house passed a bill to overturn a local LGBT antidiscrimination ordinance in Missoula. While there are plenty of states that don't have such protections, I can only come up with one example of a state that tried to ban local governments from trying to fill in the gap in state law: Colorado.
Romer v. Evans was the first LGBT win at the Supreme Court back 1996, after Amendment 2 was passed by popular vote in 1992. Amendment 2 was passed in reaction to several local governments (Aspen, Boulder, and Denver) passing sexual orientation antidiscrimination ordinances and banned any municipality in the state from protecting "homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships."
The Supreme Court overturned Amendment 2 on a rational basis test (lower scrutiny, so they didn't have to see sexual orientation as a suspect class), specifically citing the fact that LGB people lost equal protection because they couldn't ask local governments to pass these laws in the future:
It is not within our constitutional tradition to enact laws of this sort. Central both to the idea of the rule of law and to our own Constitution's guarantee of equal protection is the principle that government and each of its parts remain open on impartial terms to all who seek its assistance. "`Equal protection of the laws is not achieved through indiscriminate imposition of inequalities.'" Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 635 (1950) (quoting Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 22 (1948)). Respect for this principle explains why laws singling out a certain class of citizens for disfavored legal status or general hardships are rare. A law declaring that in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens than for all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal protection of the laws in the most literal sense. "The guaranty of `equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws.'" Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942) (quoting Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886)).
Colorado's law specifically mentioned sexual orientation, while Montana's says that local ordinances can't protect beyond the classes already mentioned in state law. Not that that matters much - the entire discussion around this bill has been about LGBT people. Gays were mentioned in testimony:
"There are those of us who would not to rent to gay and lesbian people for religious reasons," said Himes, a Hamilton pastor.
Pressed later by Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, what those religious reasons are, Himes said: "It is God himself who says that homosexuality is an abomination, and he has various punishments for that, too."
And trans people too:
Dallas Erickson of Montana Citizens for Decency through Law, said, "This law in Missoula means that a person with a penis can now go into the showers where the people with vaginas have gone."
Erickson said he knows Ravalli County residents who won't take their children into Missoula businesses "because they don't know if they're going to confronted in the restroom with a different gender."
The court in Romer was also shocked that they had never seen anything so discriminatory before:
Amendment 2 confounds this normal process of judicial review. It is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law [ ROMER v. EVANS, ___ U.S. ___ (1996) , 11] is unprecedented in our jurisprudence. The absence of precedent for Amendment 2 is itself instructive; "[d]iscriminations of an unusual character especially suggest careful consideration to determine whether they are obnoxious to the constitutional provision." Louisville Gas & Elec. Co. v. Coleman, 277 U.S. 32, 37-38 (1928).
And that was before Lawrence v. Texas.
This still has to get through the senate, which is controlled by Republicans in that state, and has to be signed by the governor, who's a Democrat. Whether it becomes law or not, it's just shocking that they'd try an anti-gay move like that even the Supreme Court was willing to reject back in the 90's.