by Jamee Greer
Most of you have probably already heard that the MT GOP platform was reaffirmed on June 19th, and included a plank under the heading of “Crimes” calling for recriminalization of gays and lesbians. (http://www.mtgop.org/platform.aspx)
This reflects how much power the religious right has on the Montana Republican Party today.
MCA 45-5-505, the deviant sexual conduct code, was ruled unconstitutional in 1997 by the MT Supreme Court – and 2003 by the US Supreme Court. The law, which is still on the books despite multiple attempts at removal both before and after the court rulings, calls for up to 10 years in prison and/or $50,000 in fines. (http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/5/45-5-505.htm)
LGBTQ Montanans are our family, friends, neighbors, firefighters, police officers, and small business owners. LGBT Montanans staff our hospitals, teach our children, build our towns, and pay taxes. We cannot be forced back into the dark and discriminatory shadows of this unjust law.
There are real and disastrous consequences associated with supporting recriminalization.
In 1995, the legislature tried to force lifetime registration of gay men and lesbians convicted under the law, that is, lifetime tracking and reporting through the sexual or violent offender registry simply for being gay or lesbian. The law, and its supporter’s rhetoric, is not just archaic and discriminatory, but can encourage violence against members of the LGBTQ community in Montana.
There’s been one press story on this that I know of, and it ran in the Missoula Independent.
There’s a growing chorus of voices upset by the fact that the MT Democratic Party hasn’t come forward in support of Montana’s gay and lesbian community.
I get the feeling as a gay man – and what the opponents like to call “professional homosexual” – that some in the party think talking about gays and lesbians hurts their chances at winning. When you’re talking about discrimination in the workplace, polling of likely voters suggests otherwise. Most Montanans support non-discrimination protections that give LGBT people equal protection under the law in housing, employment and public accommodations, like hotels and doctor’s offices.
The GOP has taken this to a new level and is calling for criminal status for all gays and lesbians! Both sides of the aisle should be coming alive, speaking out and taking action.
Beat the drums loudly. Talk about this on your blogs. Talk about it with your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends and your families.
I know this list is statewide, are there central committees interested in bringing forward resolutions condemning the platforms? Is there some statewide listserv to get that word out on? Can everyone commit to writing about this – and calling for both Democrats and Republicans – to denounce the platform?
Thanks to all. Let me know if I can be of any help.
Montana Human Rights Network