HAMILTON — A final vote during Tuesday evening’s Hamilton's City Council meeting denied painting pavement in city limits.
This pertains to a proposal by a group of high-school students in the Bitterroot to paint four crosswalks in downtown Hamilton in LGBTQ+ Pride flag colors.
The proposal created quite the stir in Ravalli County, and one that now has officials questioning the most basic rules of pavement painting. Those questions came to the forefront at a heated City Council meeting on Tuesday night.
While council members deliberated the basic question of whether to adopt or deny pavement painting, the audience focused its public comment on the issue of an LGBTQ+ pavement painting.
Many spoke out against the proposal for this Pride crosswalk in Hamilton.
“We do not need to open this can of worms. As you can see just from the tension in the audience, we just don't need to do this in our community. These sort of things, they just don't bring us together, leaving the pavement alone is the best solution,” said Hamilton resident Kevin Horton.
The Hamilton City Council ultimately voted to deny pavement painting, putting an end to any chance for an LGBTQ+ Pride crosswalk.
But that’s not the end of this proposal’s story. Disheartened at the resistance the Pride crosswalk organizers have faced, one Hamilton woman has offered her space as a “Pride platform.” Chapter One Bookstore co-owner Mara Lynn Luther opened her shop to the organizers of the crosswalk -- most of whom are high school students – and they’ve painted the windows of the bookstore with Pride colors and words of inclusion.
Luther says she has been nervous about the potential backlash to her business, but the positive reinforcement they’ve received is a reminder of why they’re doing it in the first place.
“We’ve been emotional about it because we've had people come in and just thank us for making them feel welcome and safe, and wanted in their community,” Luther told MTN News. “Because it's hard to remember that the quiet voices are there when the loud voices are so loud and so hateful, and yeah, we've seen a lot of support for this project."
The adoption of the "no-pavement paint" rule also means any areas that have already been painted, like the "Bike-Walk Bitterroot" crosswalk in Hamilton, will have to be removed.