The first law of holes is, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”   So it is with Great Falls Mayor Corey Reeves, and his refusal to issue a proclamation for Pride Month on behalf of the City of Great Falls.

First a quick recap. June is Pride Month.  Across the country and the state of Montana, the LGBTQ+ community organizes events and celebrations to educate the public about the history of oppression they have faced and to bring people together around the progress that has been made and the work that is yet to do.

Here in Great Falls the LGBTQ+ community requested Mayor Reeves issue a city proclamation acknowledging Pride Month as has been done for numerous other groups in Great Falls.  Reeves refused.  Pretty bad.

But then he went one step further and issued a statement explaining why he refused to issue a proclamation which just dug the hole deeper.  In the typical fashion for homophobia, he denied any form of bias against LGBTQ+ people while refusing them equal treatment.  The statement he issued said, “My goal is to ensure that all citizens are treated with equal respect and dignity, without government interference in personal matters.”  Bad enough but Reeves just kept on digging himself into a deeper hole.  

It is no accident that more than 75 homophobic (and racist) stickers were put up around town following Reeves statements and the resulting controversy.  Hardcore  bigots hide under their rocks waiting for this kind of opportunity to spread their poison.  Thankfully community volunteers are busily finding these stickers and removing them.

Next the Mayor formally issued his new process for proclamations.  The whole thing is poorly worded, contains grammatical errors and is generally confusing and unclear.  But what is clear is that the process is illegal.  He  clearly states that he will deny applications for a Mayor’s proclamation which contain things in the list below. 

Proclamations will not be issued for:

  • Matters of political or religious nature or individual conviction
  • Matters with potential political controversy or which may suggest an official City position on a matter whether or not under consideration or to be voted upon by the City Commission
  • Events or organizations with no direct relationship to the city of Great Falls
  • Matters concerning personal life choices that government should not interfere with 

Aside from being virtually unintelligible, the process says he will consider things like “matters of political, or religious or individual conviction.”  Decisions based on these factors by government entities is prohibited in state and federal civil rights  law.  The Mayor’s thoughtlessness and attempts to justify his actions have exposed the City of Great Falls to litigation.  He just keeps on digging.