Montana Legislature: Taking Its Sweet Time Removing Archaic Hate Language

Last week, I wrote about the inability of the Montana legislature to simply remove outdated hate language from the books:

montanawelcomeThe 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.

Yeah, well…. They sent it back to committee on Friday.

Stay tuned.

The Bittersweet Ballad Of Harris Himes

As I pointed out yesterday, Harris Himes, preacher of anti-gay hate, Christian Pastor, Montana Eagle Forum President and lobbyist, has been charged with six felonies, including theft, fraudulent practices and conspiracy to commit same.

Himes turned himself in yesterday. No word as of yet about the other named pastor, “Jeb” Bryant.

It’s a bittersweet moment for me.

Harris Himes has a long history of opposing human equality- and democratic process. He was a constant figure at the legislature last Spring. He consistently showed up to publicly bristle at any mention of gays or discrimination or equality. I testified against HB 516, introduced by Rep Kris Hansen of Havre, which would disallow any city ordinances prohibiting discrimination. Himes testified for it. I found his logic deeply disturbing, his scripture scholarship crude, his arrogance and obvious multiple phobias clinically amazing. I found myself wondering how we both met Jesus and came away with two very different understandings of his message.

I now think I know.

If Himes is guilty, it means that he separates personal and public morality in a way that’s of personality disorder proportions. If he’s guilty, it means that he has a narcissistic ability to separate himself from the message of morality he presents as a pastor in the Christian tradition. He’s exempt. If he’s guilty, it’s more than simple hypocrisy- it means that the Ten Commandments have not been internalized- they don’t apply to him. Arguably, there are many interpretations to the scriptures, but most scholars agree that when it is written,”Thou Shalt Not Steal” there’s really not much wiggle room.

It’s a lot like the bully in Glee- he pounds away at the thing that he’s most afraid of- the gay part of himself. We hate most in others what we fear most in ourselves.

Now I’m not suggesting Himes is gay- not by any means. But I am suggesting that, again, if he’s guilty, his displaced guilt about his own immorality was redirected toward hate and intolerance of LGBT persons and any legislation protecting them. A deflection from his own dubious morality.

If he’s guilty.

Now here comes the bittersweet part: I also feel sorry for the guy. I can’t help it.

If he’s able to separate himself so completely from his message, then he probably has a mental illness. He probably hasn’t formed life-giving attachments in his life. He probably never progressed very far developmentally- the tormented kid on the playground who becomes the bully when he has a little bit of power- and religion gives pastors more than just a little bit. The cycle of abuse, continued.

It’s sad.

Part of me wants to sing “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead”, dance in the street and gloat over the obvious ridiculousness and hypocrisy of the downfall of a vocal bigot. Another part of me is appalled at the very idea of that. Mostly because Harris Himes would probably do that very thing if (God forbid) it was someone from the ACLU or MHRN who was charged with six felonies.

And I want to be better than that. I really do. That’s why it’s bittersweet for me.

Because if I lose sight of the humanity of my adversaries, there is little hope of them ever gaining sight of my humanity. And we need to see each other as human beings- as difficult as it is sometimes.

That’s how we win.

All of us.