Sep 28, 2010 11:15 AM by Dan Boyce (KBZK)

Bozeman leaders pass resolution in favor of equal rights for gay couples

Bozeman became the first community in Montana to stand behind a lawsuit filed by seven same-sex partners against the state.

The plaintiffs are suing for gay couples to have the same rights as married heterosexual couples and the commission's support of the suit led to a stark contrast in public opinion

From a group of pro-gay activists holding signs and cheering outside, to the packed seats of the commission room, City Hall was filled with powerful emotion during a Monday night meeting. Commissioners heard from comments on all sides of the homosexuality debate before making their unanimous decision to support the resolution.

Mayor Jeff Krauss drafted the document, saying he wants Bozeman to put forth a clear message.

"I think there are kids out there that are terrified of who they are and what they are," Krauss said. "They need to hear they are all welcome here and yes life for you can be normal here in Bozeman."

"So proud, very proud and very grateful. The commission (is) doing the right thing at the risk of losing political cash," said one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Mary Leslie.

Bozeman resident Bob DaBell spoke against the resolution. He says the success of a lawsuit like this would be another step closer to legalizing gay marriage in Montana.

"I'm not against everyone being respected with dignity, but I think the traditional definition of marriage is very important," DaBell said.

Commissioners said several times at this point the discussion here is not about marriage.

The lawsuit between the seven same-sex couples and the state of Montana continues in October.


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