When Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 107 decriminalizing gay sex, cheers erupted in the Capitol’s Rotunda. It had been 16 years after the state Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional and 24 years after gay rights activists began their fight to take government out of the bedroom. “I am not going to speak too long because, frankly, the longer I talk, the longer this embarrassing and unconstitutional law stays on the books,” Bullock said. The victory, though a powerful one for the gay community in Montana, is highly symbolic with no tangible benefits aside from striking the obsolete law condemning gay sex from Montana code. The outdated code has not been used to prosecute individuals for years. And previous efforts to offer gays and lesbians protection under the law, including a push to prohibit civil discrimination, have been thwarted by a GOP-controlled Legislature.
MONTANA: Capital City Of Helena Unanimously Approves LGBT Protections
Montana’s capital city yesterday unanimously approved broad anti-discrimination protections for LGBT residents.
In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Helena City Commission passed an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and many kinds of public accommodation based on sexual orientation. Hundreds of people turning out to support or oppose the measure, with the commission opening two additional rooms in the City-County Building to provide audio and video of the meeting. Mayor Jim Smith gave each side an hour to speak on the measure. “I believe, and I felt the commissioners believe, that being LGBT is part of the human condition,” said Commissioner Haque-Hausrath, the sponsor of the measure, speaking of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “It’s something that people cannot change, and we believe that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientations.”
The above-linked story notes that most of the those opposed to the measure brought up the standard and tired “dress-wearing men in the locker room” argument.
“How will we be able to monitor when a person, male or female, enters the opposing bathroom and says ‘Well, I can do this, because I’m gender-identity confused?’” said Jacqui Garcia, citing situations her children might encounter. “We all have been in bathroom stalls and public stalls, There’s gaps between the doors, and you can still see in them.” Sharon Turner said the situation would put a huge majority of the population at risk. She said she wasn’t afraid gay or lesbian people would set out to harm the children, but rather others with malicious intent. “How easy it would be for a teenage boy to use this ordinance as a right of passage?” she said. She said if the measure passed, she would cease her shopping trips into Helena with her children and grandchildren.
MONTANA: Supreme Court To Hear Partner Benefits Case For Same-Sex Couples
On Friday the Montana Supreme Court will hear the case of six same-sex couples who have sued to have their partners covered by their package of employee benefits.
The Montana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Donaldson & Guggenheim, et al. v. State of Montana on Friday at the University of Montana. The session will start at 9:30 a.m. in the University Theatre with an introduction to the case. Hosted by the UM School of Law, the session is free and open to the public. Jan Donaldson and Mary Anne Guggenheim, along with five other same-sex couples in committed, intimate relationships, are bringing a constitutional challenge against several Montana laws under which same-sex couples cannot obtain the same public and private benefits provided to married opposite-sex couples.
MONTANA: Leading Anti-Gay Activist Charged With Six Felony Fraud Counts
Pastor Harris Himes (above, at the microphone), the most well-known anti-gay activist in Montana, has been charged with six felony counts of theft and fraud related to a business scheme he allegedly orchestrated with another pastor.
Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said Harris Himes turned himself in Wednesday morning after learning that there was a warrant for his arrest. District Judge James Haynes issued bench warrants on Tuesday for Himes and James “Jeb” Bryant after attorneys for the state Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance filed six felony charges against the two. The charges included theft, fraud, conspiracy to commit both, failure to register a security and failure to register as a salesman of same. According to court records, Himes and Bryant claimed to own a business, Duratherm Building Systems, and promised at least one investor a large return on his $150,000. But the investor claimed to have never received any returns or confirmation of sale, nor could he get his money back.
According to the above-linked story, Harris frequently testified and campaigned against proposed pro-gay legislation. We know him here on JMG as part of the Not In My Bathroom anti-transgender rights group.
In February of this year I posted video of Himes testifying that homosexuality was a “sin worth of death” and therefore gay people should not be allowed to rent homes in Montana. Thanks to Himes and others, Montana’s state legislature then passed a bill outlawing all LGBT rights laws, at any level in the entire state.
RELATED: Himes is also the president of the far fringe-right Montana Eagle Forum and in his dual role as pastor/lawyer he performs pro bono work on behalf of the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund. He blogs at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site.
UNRELATED: Two nutjob anti-gay whackos taken down on the same day! I am chortling until my chortler is sore! O frabjous day, indeed!
Despite Lawrence Vs. Texas, laws specifically against gay sex remain on the books in four states. Ten other states continue to outlaw all acts of sodomy. Last month the GOP blocked an attempt to delete such a law in Montana.
Are you surprise? I’m not. You see, you can take this very same map and change the tittle of “Sodomy” for “Bigotry” and the results would be pretty much the same.
Montana State GOP Rep Celebrates: Gays Can’t Act Gay In Public In My State
Montana GOP state Rep. Bill Peterson claims that since the state legislature blocked a recent move to decriminalize homosexuality, there are happily still two laws which he can use to persecute gay people.
According to Peterson, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, there are at least two prosecutable offenses—felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. One is the “recruitment” of non-gays. “Homosexuals can’t go out into the heterosexual community and try to recruit people, or try to enlist them in homosexual acts,” Peterson says. He provides an example: “‘Here, young man, your hormones are raging. Let’s go in this bedroom, and we’ll engage in some homosexual acts. You’ll find you like it.’”
Peterson hasn’t actually seen this happen, he says, because “I don’t associate with that group of people at all… I’ve associated with mainstream people all my life.” The other offense, in Peterson’s legal opinion, is the public display of homosexuality, since he believes the Supreme Court’s decision only applies to private acts behind closed doors. Being gay in public, he says, is a wholly different matter: “In my mind, if they were engaging in acts in public that could be construed as homosexual, it would violate that statute. It has to be more than affection. It has to be overt homosexual acts of some kind or another… If kissing goes to that extent, yes. If it’s more than that, yes.”
The head of a local lawyers group clarifies: “The statute will not be enforced as written—ever. We take our marching orders not only from the legislature but from the courts in which we appear.”
MONTANA: House Blocks Bill To Decriminalize Homosexuality
Yesterday the Montana House blocked an attempt to bring a bill decriminalizing homosexuality to a vote before the the full body. Earlier this month the GOP-led Montana House Judiciary Committee tabled the bill, but last night openly gay Rep. Diana Sands tried to force the issue before the full chamber.
The motion by Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, to blast Senate Bill 276 out of the House Judiciary Committee, received 51 votes in the 100-member House but failed to secure the 60 votes needed. The vote was 51-47. The Senate passed SB276, by Sen. Tom Facey, D-Missoula, 35-14, but the House Judiciary Committee tabled the bill. Before the court ruling in 1997, gays and lesbians in Montana risked being charged with felonies and if convicted, they could have faced a maximum penalty of a 10-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine, said Sands, a lesbian. “It’s been almost 15 years since the Supreme Court ruling,” Sands said. “It’s about time we removed that language from the books. Let’s bring it to the floor and debate it and take action on it.”
The laws against gay sex remain on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Montana Supreme Court in 1997, a ruling echoed several years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.
MONTANA: House Committee Kills Bill Decriminalizing Homosexuality
It’s still technically illegal to be gay in Montana, thanks to their GOP-led House Judiciary Committee which todayvoted down a billwhich would have brought the state in line with the Supreme Court’s landmark 2003 ruling inLawrence Vs. Texas. Somebody needs to orchestrate an arrest by a gay-friendly cop and then sue the fuck out of Montana, pronto.
This shows that not just because you’re next to someone smart (Canada) means that you’ll learn something.
MONTANA: Bill To Ban All Local LGBT Rights Passes House 60-39
Montana’s House yesterday voted 60-39 to approve Rep. Kristin Hansen’s bill to ban all local LGBT rights ordinances in the state.
The House took the first steps Tuesday toward striking down Missoula’s 2010 ordinance that bans discrimination against city residents based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Missoula’s Democratic legislators were infuriated by the passage of House Bill 516, by Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre. Her bill passed 60-39 and faces a final House vote before heading to the Senate. Sixty Republicans voted for it. All 32 Democrats voted opposed it, joined by seven Republicans. One Republican was absent.
Rep. Sue Malek (D-Missoula) denounced the bill: “Leave us alone. Leave us alone. For heaven’s sake. We’re one little town in a corner of Montana that has nothing to do with you. You know, I mean, why can’t you let people live like they need to live their lives. Why can’t they love who they want to love? Why? I don’t understand it.”
That’s the issue. Everybody cares too much about other people’s business. A great contradiction of those pseudo-conservatives that want less government but can’t wait to take other people’s rights away. Sons of bitches. There, I’ve said it!
Montana’s House Judiciary Committee is considering whether to include LGBT people in the state’s antidiscrimination law, KFBB.com reports. “These are our sons, daughters and neighbors and constitutes and they are entitled to live a free life from discrimination,” said Democratic state representative Edie McClafferty, who has introduced legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Montana Human Rights Act. But McClafferty’s bill was also met with opposition from some antigay groups during a Friday hearing in Helena: “This bill actually discriminates against me and those who believe as I do that homosexuality and transgender and all of these things is an abomination to God,” said Harold Himes, a pastor and a member of Montana Eagle Forum. Read the full story here.
Gay, Atheist, Latino & Blogger. Occasional writer, Collaborator for the Bestseller NYT's book "It Gets Better", a Cher devotee, Former Radio Host (in Mexico City), a Nutella lover & a Dan Savage & Christopher Hitchens' loyal. Pictures taken with an iPhone 5.