It’s been a rough few weeks for LGBT persons in Montana.
I testified at the legislature (with many of my brothers and sisters) against HB 516 which would overturn (perhaps even unconstitutionally) the right of cities and towns to enact their own anti-discrimination legislation. It passed out of committee- despite the amazingly logical arguments against it.
And Senate Bill 276, introduced by Tom Facey would have brought the criminal code into line with the judiciary- in effect aligning the language with the law, by removing the language of the deviate conduct laws which criminalize sexual behavior between consenting adults of the same gender. Bringing the language of the law in line with legal precedent. A no-brainer, right?
Sigh. Not for these Republican legislators. It just got worse. The hearing had some of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard- much less to be spoken publicly by elected officials. The Billings Gazette had this to say:
Also turned back was a plan to get rid of a state law making gay sex subject to criminal penalties — even though the courts have ruled it unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Republicans, in a 13-7 vote, stacked up against the idea of removing from the books the law offensive to the gay community, which has argued over the years that the antiquated law sends a hostile message.
But House Republicans stuck with their party’s platform that calls for keeping the anti-gay law, even though many Senate Republicans had supported the idea in sending it to the other chamber.
“Voting to say this should stay on the books is truly a cruel act,” said Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula. “When you cast that vote you said that I and other members of this Legislature who are gay or lesbian should go to prison for up to 10 years for whom I love. Don’t come up to me later and say you are sorry.”
The Montana GOP has made things very clear- they don’t give a shit about human rights, they don’t give a shit about science and they don’t give a shit about gay people. In fact, they hate them. The only reason not to pass this bill was to slap the faces- repeatedly- of Montana LGBT persons. The only reason. That’s hate.
The plank that still stands in the Montana GOP Platform that promotes the criminalization of “homosexual” acts, I argued before, is anachronistic and hateful and should be removed.
I’ve changed my mind.
It should stay because that’s exactly what they believe. That kind of ridiculous hate and intolerance is exactly what the GOP legislators have sanctioned, promoted and supported. I thought that out of deference to some amazingly open Republican Montanans I know (and am related to) that this kind of thing could be avoided- that the official government of Montana would not tell LGBT kids that they are less valuable than others, that it wouldn’t keep LGBT adults living under the specter of vilification, intolerance and second-class citizenship.
I was wrong.
The MT GOP is intolerant and anti-gay. Period. And the people of Montana need to know that- without equivocation.
So, if you’re a Republican-leaning Montanan and you’re saying to yourself, “These legislators are crazy, they don’t speak for me,” you’re wrong. They do. And if you don’t follow the same ignorant, bigoted stance they are taking, you need to speak up.
And maybe consider leaving the party of bigotry and ignorance. Because, like it or not, the Montana Democrats are the only people standing united for human rights.
And if you’re an LGBT person who is still a Republican, the only thing I can (honestly) say is “Why? They hate you. Do you hate yourself?”
Because- mark my words, it’s just going to get worse.