Montana Non Discrimination Bill Hearing Tomorrow

From MHRN:

Our Hearing on State-Wide Non-Discrimination Protection is TOMORROW!

The hearing for HB 481 to amend the Montana Human Rights Act to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression will be heard tomorrow morning! The bill is sponsored by Rep. Edie McClafferty of Butte, here are the details:

House Judiciary Committee
Room 137
Tuesday, February 19th
8:00 AM

We received less than 24 hours notice for this hearing. That means it is difficult for people who live outside of Helena to come and testify in support of the bill. We know this is frustrating, but we are asking people who live in Helena to help us have a significant presence at this hearing!  HB 481 will protect LGBT Montanans from discrimination in a number of key areas including housing, employment, and public accommodations.  Read the bill by clicking here.

Two ways you can help!
1)      Come to the Capitol tomorrow morning and show your support! We aren’t sure how much time we will have for testimony, so bring a written copy that you can submit to the committee! Scroll down for some notes on decorum at the Capitol.

2)      Contact the House Judiciary Committee right now and urge them to support HB 481! You can do this by calling the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 and asking to leave a message for the House Judiciary Committee. You can also use the Legislature’s web-based form by clicking here and choosing to send your message to the entire committee.

Let us know if you can make the hearing by replying to Jamee@mhrn.org. We’re frustrated about the short notice, but we are going to make the best of it.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Kim

Kim Abbott

Montana Human Rights Network

Information and Reminders for Hearing on HB 481

Please do not engage opponents of LGBT equality.  Our efforts to achieve legal protections for LGBT Montanans are about dignity, fairness, and security.  We want to bring those values into the hearing room. Engaging our opponents outside, or inside, the committee room is not a good use of our collective energy!

Chairman Kerns has run a fair committee this session, but we know that our time for testimony will be limited and we want as many people as possible to be able to testify on the record. Please keep your remarks concise so that we can have as many supporters of LGBT legal protections as possible get up to the microphone. Try not to repeat testimony, be respectful, and talk about how this policy would affect you, your family, your friends, and your community. Our testimony is most effective when we stick to our values and talk about our lives!

We are asking all supporters of LGBT equality to respect decorum inside the committee room. This means no clapping, booing, or interrupting others. Lastly, we’d like to remind all our supporters to be smart, safe, take care of themselves, and to look out for one another.

Rep David Howard: Bad Speller, Homophobe

Rep David Howard (R, Park City), notorious bad speller and apostrophe misuser  has done it again- used Facebook to bash the gays, and highlight his horrible spelling and punctuation:

Sigh.

His Facebook page is like that creationism amusement park in Kentucky– not a fact in sight.

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.

Sound Familiar?

To Montana LGBT folks it does.

The New York Times is reporting that despite being unenforceable, irrelevant and ridiculously out of date, Kansas sodomy laws are being kept on the books by Governor Sam Brownback. Excerpt:

English: Photographs of the Rally to Restore S...

Image via Wikipedia

Gov. Sam Brownback created the Office of the Repealer to recommend the elimination of out-of-date, unreasonable and burdensome state laws that build up in any bureaucracy over time.

For gay men and lesbians, there seemed one particularly obvious candidate: Kansas Statute 21-3505.

That would be the “criminal sodomy” statute, which prohibits same-sex couples from engaging in oral or anal sex. The law was rendered unenforceable nearly a decade ago by a United States Supreme Court ruling, but it remains enshrined in the state’s legal code.

But on Friday, when Mr. Brownback, a conservative Republican, released a list of 51 laws to recommend to the Legislature for repeal, the sodomy statute was not among them.

The decision, despite public and private lobbying, has angered gay leaders here. “We were pretty much the first in line with our request to have this unconstitutional ban on gay and lesbian relations repealed,” said Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition.

“This isn’t just some archaic law that’s sitting on the books and isn’t bothering anyone,” Mr. Witt continued. “It’s used as justification to harass and discriminate against people, and it needs to go.”

Mr. Brownback, who is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage on religious grounds, declined to comment, and his spokeswoman would not say whether he would support repealing the law against same-sex sodomy, a misdemeanor that officially carries a prison sentence of up to six months.

This is familiar, because the Montana Legislature did the exact same thing last session, refusing to remove an anachronistic, irrelevant law from the books– ostensibly to shame and vilify LGBT persons.

It’s simple hate, bigotry and discrimination. As I’ve said before, these Christianist conservatives 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.

The only cool thing about this is that the tide of public opinion is steadily going against actions like these– making the case that these bigots are out of touch with the common sense of the American people, and will soon be anachronistic and irrelevant themselves.

Full NYT story here.

Tea-Bagged

This is a two-parter, hang with me….

So, I was alerted to the anti-gay bigoted video posted by James Knox on his Facebook page this week- and I decided to post a screenshot:

 Here’s the link to the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JdytVMJ-Erg

It’s factually skewed, scientifically dubious and slickly, homophobically, fucked up (and so is that cigar, I might add). Watch it (or as much of it as you can) and then hit “Dislike”. I was feeling pretty upset about it, and the fact that these people will do almost anything to advance their disturbing agenda when I got an alert from one of my friends about another internet site.

I thought “Oh no- not more crap to wade through,” but then I clicked the link and it totally reversed the ennui I was feeling.

In fact it may be one of the greatest, best things of all time.

Behold:

I don’t know who’s responsible, but I wanted to thank them for one of the most enjoyable 45 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.
Click on the screenshot for the link and have fun!

The “Right” Responds To MT ACLU Lawsuit

The mouthpiece of Denny Rehberg, Steve Daines and Corey Stapleton, Treasure State Politics, has reacted to the ACLU appeal for same sex domestic partnerships- and, as expected, it ain’t pretty.

In fact, it’s disgusting. Excerpt:

If the ACLU wins the suit, the legislature will be forced to create a law that ensures gay and lesbian couples are given the same rights as traditional couples. This potentially means a civil union, but to be truly treated the same they would have to be recognized as married individuals, clearly not what the people of Montana decided.

Moreover it opens the legal precedent to further compromise the sanctity of marriage in Montana. If being treated the same under the law means we must recognize gay and lesbian couples, we also must recognize polygamist marriages. If a church is willing to marry traditional couples in Montana, it could be required to marry gay and lesbian couples. But these are reasons Montanans already settled this issue in 2004.

Every Montanan has the same rights, as the constitution requires. I have the right to marry a member of the opposite sex, just as these couples do; and I have the right to be in a relationship, but not to marry, someone of the same sex, just as these couples do. There is no violation of equal treatment under the law. (emphases mine)

Gay and lesbian couples are openly- brazenly- derided as undeserving of equal rights and compared to polygamists. This is an ignorant, ridiculous piece, obviously written from a bigoted and fearful perspective. The writer  has inflamed the fears and prejudice existing in good people who may not know better- or who are entrenched in their fundamentalist beliefs.

That’s not only irresponsible, it’s despicable.

I am no threat to anyone’s marriage. My desire to commit to my partner for life is being dismissed as fundamentally invalid by people who have no possible right or understanding of my life, my biology, my spirituality, my thoughts and my emotions.

Moreover, they don’t want to even try.

They just want to frighten- and keep us unmarried, unrecognized, marginalized, sleazy and freakish in the minds of their constituents.

It’s at the root of all the anti-gay bigotry in the state. A spade is a spade.

I just wish they had the balls to admit it.

 

 

“Quit Flaunting Your Lifestyle” Goes National

Many of you have read my response to the homophobic letter to the editor in the Bozeman Chronicle a few weeks ago. I decided to post it to Bilerico and see where it goes.

Good news- my Bilerico article has been drawing some attention to Bozeman- I’ve received several inquiries about the dates of the Montana Pride Celebration from out of state people interested in coming to support LGBTQ rights in Montana.

Is that awesome, or what?

The article is here.