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Gillette City Council passes hate crime ordinance 4-3 on final reading

GILLETTE - The Gillette City Council remained split on a proposed malicious harms ordinance, but the group passed it on a third and final reading Tuesday night with a 4-3 vote.

Amendments were made to the ordinance, with the biggest change being the addition of age as a protected class.

The votes on the ordinance remained unchanged from the first two readings, with City Councilmen Jim West, Billy Montgomery and Nathan McLeland and Councilwoman Heidi Gross voting for the ordinance, and Mayor Shay Lundvall, Councilwoman Trish Simonson and Councilman Tim Carsrud voting against it.

They listened to many people make public comment before deliberating and voting on the ordinance. Gross said she had to vote for what she feels is right, and added that voting against this ordinance was "the easy way out."

Simonson disagreed, saying "this was not the easy way out," and that it was not an easy decision to make.

She opposed the ordinance because she believes there are laws already in place to take care of this sort of thing, and because the ordinance "is not going to change the hearts of people that are still treating people differently because of who they are."

Carsrud said he's been accused of being a hateful person because of how he voted against the ordinance.

"Anybody that knows me knows that I do not hate," he said.

West said the ordinance is not going to infringe upon people's religious rights.

"This ordinance does not say we're going to allow or make our pastors marry gay people, it's not going to make our bakers have to bake cakes for people they don't want to," he said, adding that it's not going to force things onto people's lives.

"We're not trying to say you can't be Christian, we're not trying to make laws that say you can't do the things you still want to do. It's the opposite," he said.

Carsrud made a motion to table the ordinance for a month to give the city council and the public some time to sit and "absorb what we've learned" before voting on it. That motion failed 3-4.

This story was published on June 7, 2023.

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