Displaced Anger And Civility

Yesterday’s post ended rather snarkily on my part.

I dismissed the abuse suffered by Rep Kris Hansen (R) Havre with:

That’s nothing- we LGBT people have been putting up with this all our lives.  Wimp.

I admit, I was angered by her lack of understanding of the abuse this bill attempts to codify into law and her whining about some answering machine obscenities and impassioned people in public. That kind of stuff seems to be a part of a controversial person living a public life, and the deep reality of the anger that this bill provokes.

However, I don’t ever want to convey the impression that I believe that this kind of incivility is something that I condone. No human being should ever be subjected to threats because of a political position- even when that position infringes on the rights of other human beings to pursue safety, happiness and well-being.

Having said that, the anger and other strong emotions  elicited by this legislation should not be suppressed. That’s part of the process, too. But those strong emotions should never be used to intimidate, coerce and threaten. That’s fascism.

And we’re better than that.

HB 516 “Probably” Dead

The Associated Press:

A Republican senator says a measure to overturn a Missoula city ordinance that protects gay people from discrimination lacks support from GOP leadership.

The Senate Local Government Committee passed House Bill 516 last week. But the bill was returned to the committee Tuesday and chairman Sen. Jon Sonju says it is doubtful the measure will go to the Senate floor.

Sonju says he moved the measure back to committee because it doesn’t have the support of Senate leaders.

The proposal, carried by Republican Rep. Kristin Hansen, drew lengthy testimony during its hearings in the House and Senate.

Supporters said the bill would overturn an unconstitutional ordinance that infringes on the state’s authority.

Opponents said the measure is targeted against the gay community and interferes with local governments’ ability to govern.

And from the Billings Gazette, the travails of poor Rep Kris Hansen:

Hansen told reporters Wednesday that she intends to ask that the bill be brought back to the full Senate for a debate.

Also on Wednesday, at a meeting of House Republicans, Hansen played a threatening voice mail she had received regarding HB516. She said she turned it over to the Helena Police Department, which is subpoenaing the phone records. If they find who left the message, the lawmaker said she would ask that charges be brought against the caller.

The voice mail, from what appeared to be a male caller, said:

“Here are some of my thoughts for you. If I were you, I would stop spreading hate and intolerance and bigotry against people and their loved ones. The Bible says you reap what you sow, and you and your loved ones are going to get that hate back and then who knows what might happen to you.”

It ended with an insult against her that contained with some obscenities.

“That’s not isolated,” Hansen said. “I get regularly, sometimes daily. I’ve also been accosted twice in Helena by members in opposition to 516 in my face, shaking their fingers in public places, in restaurants, calling me all of these names and more.”

That’s nothing- we LGBT people have been putting up with this all our lives. Wimp.

HB 516 Returned To Committee

HB 516, the legislation written to overturn the rights of local governments to enact protection ordinances, has been returned to the Local Governance Committee. Mike Wessler:

Throughout the session, we have been following Rep. Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill. This bill seeks to nullify Missoula’s non-discrimination ordinance that expands protections in the state’s human rights act to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Hansen’s bill would also prohibit any other city from passing similar measures.

Last Friday, supporters of equality and dignity in our state were dealt a blow when the bill received approval from its Senate committee. With this decision by the committee, the bill was headed for it’s final debate–a full debate on the Senate floor…or so we thought.

Today, shortly before the full Senate was slated to debate the measure, Republicans–out of nowhere–asked that the bill be sent back to committee. They cited the revelation of new information as their reason for this action. The bill was quickly returned to the committee.

While at this point, we cannot say anything definitive about the reason …, however, if history teaches us anything, it is that when bills are sent back to committee, it is not a good sign for the ultimate fate of the bill. One can’t help but wonder if today’s polling on the actions of the GOP scared a few of them out of supporting such a discriminatory measure.

And maybe my last post about the miserable treatment LGBT persons have received at the hands of this legislature had something to do with it.

Nah.
They’re not that smart.

Update: The Associated Press reports:

A Republican senator says a measure to overturn a Missoula city ordinance that protects gay people from discrimination lacks support from GOP leadership.

The Senate Local Government Committee passed House Bill 516 last week. But the bill was returned to the committee Tuesday and chairman Sen. Jon Sonju says it is doubtful the measure will go to the Senate floor.

Sonju says he moved the measure back to committee because it doesn’t have the support of Senate leaders.

The proposal, carried by Republican Rep. Kristin Hansen, drew lengthy testimony during its hearings in the House and Senate.

Supporters said the bill would overturn an unconstitutional ordinance that infringes on the state’s authority.

Opponents said the measure is targeted against the gay community and interferes with local governments’ ability to govern.

Kill The Gays

No, it’s not the Montana GOP- yet.
It’s Uganda.

From my friend Kathy Baldock:

 

 

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the “Kill the Gays Bill” is in the final stages of review in the Ugandan Parliament. There is one final chance to stop this bill from coming to the vote–applying pressure on Hon. Stephen Tashobya, the Chair of the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs. Behind the scene maneuvering has been revealed by a brave insider. It is critical to give input to Tashobya NOW.

Please read her post here.

 

Newsflash! MT GOP Hates Human Rights (and LGBT People)

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.

Immediately.

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.

Deeply Disgusting Comments From Montana GOP Legislators

From Montana Democrats’ Mike Wessler:

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard Sen. Facey’s bill that seeks to remove language from our criminal code that seeks to criminalize homosexual acts in the state. This law was ruled unconstitutional years ago, however the law remained on the books.

During the hearing, opponents of the bill, both those testifying and on committee said some of the most disgusting things about gay, lesbian and bisexual people that I have ever heard. One opponent of the bill said that all pedophiles were gay or bisexual. A member of the committee asked a series of questions in order to suggest that gay men are simply HIV positive tax burdens.

Listen to a portion of the hearing here:

Disturbing. And embarrassing.
The average Montana third grader knows more than these asshats.

A Little Madness In The Spring

 

Was this line from Emily Dickinson the inspiration for the Montana Legislature this year? Or NCAA Ball? Or meteorologists? We may never know.

But the poem’s worth a listen:

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

I have our house inspection report this morning, and then back to Butte to put Sars’ house on the market. Tomorrow is St Paddy’s Day in The Mining City (I’ll be safely at home, thank you) and then the O Sullivan Estate Sale Part Deux on Friday and Saturday.

How’s your week shaping up?

Press From Yesterday

The Missoulian (of course) printed the most info on the HB 516 hearing yesterday:

A crowd of people, many of them from Missoula, showed up Monday to oppose a bill that would nullify the city’s 2010 ordinance that protects residents from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender and gender expression.

A smaller group of people, some of whom fought the Missoula ordinance last year, came to support House Bill 516 by Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre, at a hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee.

It was a low-key hearing compared to the at-times boisterous House Judiciary Committee hearing last month.

Hansen’s bill would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances or other policies like Missoula’s that cover, as a protected class from actual discrimination, any groups not now included in the Montana Human Rights Act.

She questioned the legality of the Missoula ordinance, saying it could take several years for such a challenge to get through courts here.

“My bill prevents that,” she said. “It declares that the state is preemptive in the field. I believe that state law does preempt in this area.”

I even got a mention:

Gregory Smith, who was a chaplain to the Legislature in 1993, said he is a therapist whose patients includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“I am a gay man and a native Montanan,” he said. “We want to live our lives happily and from fear in the state we grew up in.”

Smith said the bill ignores a suffering segment of Montana’s population and is “enshrining bigotry and discrimination.

Read the full story here.

Off To The Rodeo

It’s not 40 below, but I do have a heater in the Bofus, so I’m off to the Rodeo- once known as the Montana Legislature, to speak in opposition to HB 516 (see previous post).

There are a lot of reasons to oppose this bill. Don Pogreba gives us more to think about from Intelligent Discontent:

One of the elements of Western movies that always puzzled me was the frequent assertion that no one in the West cared where a person had come from; all that mattered was the person they were in their new community. Growing up in relatively small towns like Shelby and Laurel, it seemed that the exact opposite was true. When someone new came to town, we wanted to know everything about him or her and we pried like hell to find out whatever we could. But the other half of the story was true: once that person arrived, all we cared about was that the new person did her job, treated her neighbors well, and shoveled her walk in the winter.

Once you became part of our town, your private life was your private life, and it wasn’t anybody’s business who you loved and/or slept with.

People like Harris Himes and and Dallas Erickson never seemed to learn that, though. For reasons that perhaps only a trained psychiatrist could explain, they seem obsessed with who someone sleeps with, and quite uncomfortably, how they do it. They hate people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender so much that they’ll lie about them, spew vicious invective at them, and even suggest that the death penalty would be appropriate for the crime of loving someone of the same sex.

Perfect. Read the rest here.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out his piece on Montana Education. Excellent points, all.

Hey!

…against HB 516? Hearing starts Monday at 3pm in Room 405 of the Montana State Capitol Building.

I suggest printing two copies of your statement and bring it with you in case the monkey business of last time is repeated.

Here’s mine:

Regarding HB 516, I speak in opposition for several reasons.

  • Every community should have the right to decide its own ordinances of inclusion. Ordinances of exclusion, which is what this is, are historically used by dictatorships, theocratic states and societies of intolerance- which I fervently hope is not your intention.
  • Creating a law that disallows protection is counterintuitive to the purpose of government as set forth in both the Federal and State Constitutions, in which are stated explicitly the government’s purpose and responsibility to protect its citizenry from discrimination, violence and other harms.
  • This is an attempt to write prejudice and bigotry into the law. It is an attempt to tie local ordinances to State law in a way which keeps government from evolving as our understanding does- both scientific and social, creating a top-down model, instead of a cooperative, inter-dynamic process. State laws and statutes are informed by the experience of the people- don’t disregard the deliberate and intentional process engaged in by sizable numbers of Montanans- processes which inform the future of our government.
  • I am a gay man, a native Montanan. My partner is a native Montanan. All we want is to live our lives happily and free from fear in the state we both grew up in. This bill tells me we shouldn’t have the right to be happy here.

  • I am also a therapist, I work primarily with LGBT persons. The stories of fear and prejudice that I hear almost daily are heart-breaking. The stories of bullying and violence are also all too common and very real right here in the State of Montana. This bill simply ignores the needs of a suffering segment of the population who deserve to feel safe.
  • This bill is discrimination. It is rejection of the right of communities to protect their citizens as they believe necessary. It removes the power to govern from local citizens, enshrining bigotry, ignorance and personal belief in defiance of science, human experience and the freedom of local governance.

Respectfully submitted,
D Gregory Smith, MA, stl