Montana Legislature: Actively Working To Shame Gay People

Updated. See below….
Things seemed hopeful at the start of this session. From the Great Falls Tribune:

SHAME

SHAME (Photo credit: BlueRobot)

The Montana Supreme Court in 1997 ruled as unconstitutional the portion of the deviate sexual relations law that includes “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex” in the definition that also includes bestiality.

Senate Bill 107, carried by Sen. Tom Facey, would remove it from state code. The Missoula Democrat said the time has come to strike a law that is unenforceable and offensive.

“Words do matter. I hope you can pass this bill to get the unconstitutional words out of our code,” Facey said.

Groups opposed to the law have tried for years to get the Legislature to formally strike language they argue is hurtful. Two years ago, a similar proposal to repeal the law cleared the Senate only to die in the more conservative House.

But since then, the Montana Republican Party has removed from its platform the position that it seeks to make homosexual acts illegal. The party remains opposed to gay marriage.

Freshman Republican state Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer, of Superior, said he is co-sponsoring the measure because it “respects the rights of Montanans.”

But that was then, this is now. Jamee Greer, lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network said this yesterday:

The Montana Senate can’t even take an up-or-down vote on whether or not the law should say gays and lesbians deserve ten years in prison and/or $50,000 fines – simply for being gays and lesbians.

Word is they’re sending the bill back to committee to attach bad amendments to it requested by a Bitterroot-based anti-gay activist, Dallas Erickson. This motion would happen during the Senate floor session, possibly as soon as Wednesday (today).

Why back to committee? If it comes up quietly during an executive action, which can happen at pretty much any time, maybe there won’t be network television news cameras in front of them. Maybe the Associated Press and USAToday will miss it.

Maybe, just maybe, some members of the legislature can get away with labeling gay and lesbian Montanans as “deviates” and “felons” for another year and avoid the national embarrassment that will surely come with such an unfortunate decision.

Maybe, just maybe.

Maybe they’ll knock it off if we get enough attention on this issue. Anyone have Rachel Maddow’s number?

Update From Jamee: The Senate has not moved SB107 back to committee during floor session today- to amend or “kill” the bill “quietly” in committee….

This can still happen during any floor session, so until they finally give the bill an up-or-down vote, it is in play.

It is a simple question: do you think gays deserve to be associated in the law with those who molest animals, and punished by fines of $50,000 and ten years in jail?

JUST VOTE ALREADY!

Montana GOP: Plotting To Oust Moderates?

From the Great Falls Tribune: 

On the surface, lawmakers in the 63rd Montana Legislature appear to be working to get along and to advance bills both parties can live with.

But below the surface, a simmering ideological battle is threatening to boil over onto the Senate floor.

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The red “GOP” logo used by the party for its website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The turmoil isn’t between Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, and their Democratic counterparts. The most heated political power struggle under way at the Capitol right now is between the conservative and moderate factions within the GOP caucus.

It’s a power struggle that has played out in local legislative primary races. It is often bantered about in the halls of the Capitol and in the watering holes around Helena.

Emails recently obtained by the Tribune pull back the curtain and give the public a glimpse of the seething intra-party acrimony that has infected the Legislature’s most powerful body.

The documents show key members of the Senate Republican caucus, including members of the current leadership team, began plotting their power play as early as September of last year.

According to one former state senator who was defeated in a three-way Republican primary last June, conservative members of the Senate caucus began identifying allies and enemies and painting political targets as early as July 2011, just a few months after the session adjourned.

The emails and documents — which feature a lengthy discussion between Senate President Jeff Essmann of Billings, Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich of Bozeman, Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge, Majority Whip Frederick “Eric” Moore of Miles City, Sen. Ed Walker of Billings and Sen. Dave Lewis of Helena — outline the strategy the conservative Republicans in the Senate caucus used to seize power from the 2011 leadership team in order to advance their policies in 2013.

The goal of the new conservative leadership team, as Essmann detailed in one email last September, was to advance a “long game strategy” that “involves changing the face of the Montana Supreme Court” so the high court “does not find a constitutional block to every conservative policy initiative and will give (Republicans) a better shot at redistricting in 10 years.”

“(Republican Redistricting Commissioner) Jon Bennion was able to draw a map with 63 safe Republican seats,” Essmann wrote on Sept. 13 in an email with the subject line “Agenda control.”

“If we can implement the long term strategy we will be in a position to actually elect a majority of conservatives in both bodies, adopt conservative legislation and have a court that will uphold it,” Essmann wrote.

Read the full story here.

Marriage Equality And Montana

…John S Adams has an excellent article about it in the Great Falls Tribune. I loved how he brought attention to the Republican Platform Plank:

Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in one of the nation’s most closely watch U.S. Senate races, reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Montana’s state constitution says ‘Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state,’ and I agree,” Rehberg said in a statement.

Rehberg’s position is in keeping with a plank in the Montana Republican Party’s official platform which states that Montana Republicans “support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.”

The Montana GOP adopted that language after the Montana Supreme Court in 1997 struck down a state law making so-called “deviant sexual conduct” a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Legislative Republicans have repeatedly blocked attempts to remove that language from the Montana Code.

The 2011 session marked the first time an effort to repeal the unenforceable language from state law passed a legislative chamber, passing in the Senate but then dying in the House Judiciary Committee.

Read the full article (starring my pal, Jamee Greer) here.

Rehberg Taking Heat For Big Spending- From A Republican

From The Montana Democrats:

Multimillionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s GOP primary opponent is raising some legitimate questions about the 11-year Congressman’s history of irresponsible government spending and power grabs.

According to the Lee Newspapers, Dennis Teske is frustrated that,

“Rehberg has voted for unconstitutional expansions of government power, like the Patriot Act in 2001, and plenty of government spending.”

Mr. Teske is right — Congressman Rehberg not only supported the Patriot Act twice, he co-sponsored his own controversial bill to give Homeland Security total “operational control” over the 100 northernmost miles of Montana.  Named the number one earmarker in the Tea Party Caucus, Congressman Rehberg also voted to raise the debt ceiling 10 times.

Congressman Rehberg has been of part the problem in Washington for 11 long years,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Montanans of all stripes are right to be upset with Congressman Rehberg’s support for the Patriot Act and his hypocrisy on the debt.  Unfortunately, playing games with our freedoms and tax dollars is part of the culture in Washington, and Congressman Rehberg is too out of touch to put Montana first.

Here’s more:

HOMELAND SECURITY LAND GRAB:  Congressman Rehberg is sponsoring a bill that “would give the secretary of homeland security total operational authority over all federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S. international and maritime borders” [Great Falls Tribune, 9/21/11].  Critics said the bill was “exactly the kind of big government Montanans don’t tolerate” [Missoulian, 9/28/11].

REAL ID:  In 2005 Congressman Rehberg praised a plan to force all Montanans to get government ID cards saying, “something states should have been doing all along”  [Rehberg Press Release,5/6/05].

PATRIOT ACT:  Congressman Rehberg has long supported the controversial Patriot Act, something Jon Tester has consistently opposed  [HR 2975, Vote 386, 10/12/01; HR 3162, Vote 398, 10/24/01; HR 3199, Vote 414, 07/21/05; HR 3199, Vote 627, 12/14/05; S 2271, Vote 20, 03/07/06, HR 514, House Roll Call Vote 29, 2/10/11].

TEA PARTY’S TOP EARMARKER:  According to the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste, Congressman Rehberg  “takes the prize as the Tea Partier with his name on the most earmarks” [National Journal, 12/2/10].

10 VOTES TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING:  

  1. [S. 627, House Roll Call Vote #677, 7/29/2011]
  2. [HR 2560, House Roll Call Vote #606, 7/19/2011]
  3. [HCR376, Vote #158, 5/18/06]
  4. [HR 4297, Vote 67, 3/16/06; CQ, 3/16/06]
  5. [CRS, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, 1/10; HCR95, Vote #149, 214-211, 4/28/05]
  6. [HRS 683, Vote 280, 6/22/04; CQ Today, 6/23/04; AP, 6/22/04]
  7. [SCR 95, Vote #198, 5/19/04]
  8. [S 2986, Vote 536, 11/18/04; Washington Post, 11/19/04]
  9. [CRS, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, 1/10; HCR95, Vote #141, 216-211,4/11/03]
  10. [Congressional Research Service; S 2578, Vote 279, 06/27/02]

Cebull Resignation/Impeachment Petitions Update

When I first looked at the internets regarding public discontent regarding Richard Cebull’s lack of professional judgment, (Cebull Petitions Pepper The Internet- And They Should) there were 5 petitions circulating in the informational ether.

Now, the number is up. On Change.org alone there are 10.

Will anything happen? Will the complaint by the Montana GOP (against Senators Baucus and Tester for filing an investigation request with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to take a look) get any traction? Will the story just fade away?

Nope.

Not as long as I have a computer and internet access….

The Call For Cebull To Step Down Gets Louder- Petition Edition

Thanks to the folks at the Montana Human Rights Network, there’s now a petition. From The Great Falls Tribune:

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...

Image via Wikipedia

Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said citizens from throughout Montana and across the country are flooding the organization’s phone lines and email inbox with angry calls for Cebull to be removed from his post as the state’s top federal judge.

“People are really angry and motivated and wanting to do something,” McAdam said Thursday.

The Montana Human Rights Network and other groups are now circulating online petitions calling for Cebull to resign.

“On February 20, the chief federal judge in Montana, Richard Cebull, forwarded an email to six individuals that included racist and misogynistic content. The content of this email dehumanizes people of color and women. People of color and women appearing before Judge Cebull will have valid concerns about his ability to treat them fairly,” the network petition reads in part.

“From the time story broke online (Wednesday) to this morning we had gotten dozens of emails through our website, and phone calls from people who are really wanting some way to register their real displeasure with the email the judge sent around and also really talking about ‘how can we lend our names to something to try to get the judge to resign?’” McAdams said.

The network also plans to file a formal ethics complaint with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The MHRN petition is here. 

UPDATE: CONGRESSIONAL TRI-CAUCUS CONDEMNS MONTANA JUDGE’S RACISM TOWARD OBAMA

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Rehberg Defends Controversial Bill

From The Montana Democrats:

Already under heat from Montana sportsmen for supporting an anti-hunting bill, mutimillionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg today doubled down on his defense of H.R. 1505, his unpopular federal land grab bill.

 H.R. 1505 allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to override at least 36 existing laws and seize public land within 100 miles of Montana northern border in order to gain “operational control.”  The legislation has been panned by critics on the right and the left.  Montana sportsmen also criticized the bill because it gives the Department of Homeland Security “complete control over millions of acres of Montana public lands.”
But Rehberg defied Montana’s opposition to the bill on KECI-TV this morning:
“It has nothing to do with any kind of a land grab. It’s federal properties only and it’s just saying ‘let the border patrol and the customs agents have access to federal property you shouldn’t lock them out’.”
Rehberg is wrong.  H.R. 1505 gives unprecedented authority to the federal government lock up land in Montana, and to lock Montanans out.
“Congressman Rehberg’s 35-year political career is defined by irresponsible decisions like his Homeland Security land grab and his votes for the Patriot Act and REAL ID,” said  Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick . “If Congressman Rehberg still thinks Montanans will stand for his attacks on our rights and freedoms, then he’s clearly lost touch with Montana values.  And he refuses to admit when he’s wrong.”
Earlier this week, Montana hunters began running TV ads in Montana questioning Rehberg’s support of the Roadless Release Act.  Rehberg’s bill (H.R. 1581) would  open  up millions of acres of land in Montana to roads and development, impacting some of Montana’s most prized hunting habitat.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Montana Wildilfe Federation oppose Rehberg’s bill.
HOMELAND SECURITY LAND GRAB:  Congressman Rehberg is sponsoring a bill that “would give the secretary of homeland security total operational authority over all federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S. international and maritime borders” [Great Falls Tribune,9/21/11].  Critics said the bill was “exactly the kind of big government Montanans don’t tolerate” [Missoulian, 9/28/11].
REAL ID:  In 2005 Congressman Rehberg praised a plan to force all Montanans to get government ID cards saying,  “something states should have been doing all along”  [Rehberg Press Release, 5/6/05].
PATRIOT ACT:  Congressman Rehberg has voted over and over again to re-authorize the controversial Patriot Act, something Jon Tester has consistently opposed  [HR 2975, Vote 386, 10/12/01; HR 3162, Vote 398, 10/24/01; HR 3199, Vote 414, 07/21/05; HR 3199, Vote 627, 12/14/05; S 2271, Vote 20, 03/07/06, HR 514, House Roll Call Vote 29, 2/10/11].