After My Own Heart

A.J. Otjen, University of Montana Professor and 2010 GOP Congressional Candidate has an Op-Ed in the Missoulian that flies in the face of the arguments by Treasure State Politics about LGBT rights (see previous post) and takes on the Montana GOP’s Notorious Platform Plank:

Montana Republican Party

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(The) Montana Supreme Court heard an appeal giving same-sex couples the protections that heterosexual couples enjoy. We should demand that our Republican leaders support this decision. But, the Montana Republican party platform says homosexual acts should remain illegal.

Apparently, the party that favors smaller, less intrusive government wants bigger, more intrusive government when it comes to our domestic arrangements. Three’s a crowd in the bedroom, folks.

Worse, the party line doesn’t fit with what most Republicans think. The latest Gallup poll says that 85 percent of Republicans want their candidates to focus on the economy, not social issues.

It will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win general elections if party leaders try to block the Supreme Court ruling or this troubling clause stays in the Republican state platform. Almost two-thirds of independents supported legalizing same-sex marriage in a 2010 Gallup poll.

Anecdotal evidence from online posts shows thousands of voters saying they would vote Republican except for the GOP’s rigid stance on gay issues.

Almost one-third of Republicans supported legalizing same-sex marriage in the 2010 Gallup poll. Over 70 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds support legalizing same-sex marriage, up 16 percentage points from 2010. This “overwhelming” number in favor of marriage equality “makes the trend toward growing acceptance both clear and unstoppable,” says Jon Walker at Firedoglake. (emphases mine)


I am delighted and cautiously optimistic.

Of course I want her to be a bellwether, and having A.J. Otjen singing “The Times, They Are A-Changing” (with statistics) might be the wake-up call the Montana GOP needs. But will they hear it?

The Tea-Party Christianists seem to have a loud voice, if not large numbers- and the fact that this plank was “sneaked in” past the majority of delegates- as some maintain- doesn’t leave me with a helluva lot of faith in the process.

I want to believe it. I do. I like what she’s singin’, God bless her. It’s rational, reasonable, and backed by scientific data.

But I know a few people who’ll run to unplug the speakers as fast as they can. Especially because it’s rational, reasonable and backed by scientific data.

Sigh.

Stay tuned- and read the whole piece here.

Michele Bachmann, The NYT and Rehberg

Just a little reminder of the truth for ya…

Over the weekend, the New York Times had an interesting article about Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and the issue that catapulted her into the national spotlight: The gays are coming! They want to get married! Protect your children!

In March 2004, with Massachusetts soon to allow gay couples to wed, Michele Bachmann delivered a dire warning to her fellow Minnesotans: The children of their state were at risk.

“We will have immediate loss of civil liberties for five million Minnesotans,” Mrs. Bachmann, then a state senator, told a Christian television network as thousands gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally for a same-sex marriage ban she proposed. “In our public schools, whether they want to or not, they’ll be forced to start teaching that same-sex marriage is equal, that it is normal and that children should try it.”

Anti-gay rhetoric. And the willful promulgation of ignorance. Seems like it’s pretty popular right now in some circles. Meanwhile, the American public is (mostly) not buying it. American acceptance of gay marriage is trending steadily upward, and only 32% of the people polled last October said gay marriage is a “very important issue” in their considerations at the ballot box- both for and against- so the number against is even less than that. The Pew Poll:

The economy and jobs overshadow other issues, including social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, in importance for voters. Fully 90% of registered voters say the economy will be very important to their vote while nearly as many (88%) rate jobs as very important.

By contrast, just 43% say abortion will be very important and just 32% say the same about same-sex marriage — the lowest percentage for 13 issues tested. Opponents of same-sex marriage (44% very important) are more likely than supporters (22%) to say that this issue will be very important to their vote.

Americans are increasingly seeing the anti-gay stance as bigoted and wrong- and rightly so. But it’s important to remember that Michele Bachmann- polling well in Montana– has her political roots firmly in this cesspool.

And what’s this got to do with Rehberg? Well, how about this reminder from January:

Billing Bachmann as a “possible presidential contender,” the Montana GOP announced Monday the third-term congresswoman would be one of the speaker’s at the state party’s annual fundraiser in Helena on Feb. 5.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is seriously weighing a bid for Senate, is also a listed speaker.

“Congresswoman Bachmann is a leading voice for conservative Republicans.  She is in great demand for speaking engagements throughout the country.  We are very fortunate Michele Bachmann will be our guest in Montana’s capital city and are grateful for Congressman Rehberg’s assistance in making this possible,” said Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee chairman Bridget Holland. (emphasis mine)

And well- of course. It makes sense. Rehberg has his own anti-gay history:

When you’re from Montana, it’s hard to find things to do — so practical jokes come in handy.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) recently played a gag on Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) on their Middle East congressional delegation trip last month.

Rehberg left an “Idaho Travel Package” on Simpson’s airplane seat.

Contents included a stuffed sheep with gloves attached to it (draw your own conclusions), a Village People CD, books on cross-dressing and sign language and a T-shirt that reads, “My senator may not be gay, but my governor is Butch.”

Rehberg is proud of the gift bag. “I spent a bit of time putting the things together,” he boasted.

(Simpson) was amused but not surprised that Rehberg was the bearer of such presents. “You can always find those materials in Montana,” he said, laughing.

After calls for an apology from a variety of quarters, none was given. An offhand statement was offered-from an office spokesman- saying, “No offense was intended.” Obviously, Rehberg doesn’t take the offense to his constituents seriously. He never has. Nor will he see the ridiculous “star” that he has hitched his wagon to- Michele Bachman- for what it really is: a willful attempt at fear-mongering, scientific ignorance and blatant pandering to an increasingly shrinking part of the American population.

It’s embarrassing. I just hope the people of Montana catch on soon, because I really don’t believe he represents the views of the majority of voting Montanans- Montanans believe in justice for all- not justice for some. and it’s easy to forget some very important things in light of repeated smokescreen rhetoric. But I believe we’re smarter than that.

So let’s vote like it.

HRC, GLAAD, Montana and Lady Gaga

Some clarifications about yesterday’s post– especially addressing the concerns and comments from the same post on LGBTQ Nation:

They do some great things, but HRC did not do its homework. The Montana GOP was first in it’s criminalization plank, back in the mid-90′s according to Bowen Greenwood on Brian Kahn’s Home Ground (Yellowstone Public Radio, Sept 2010). According to its press release, HRC thinks Montana copied Texas. The reality is that Texas either copied Montana or sadly, came up with it on its own.

http://www.ypradio.org/programs/local/home_ground.html

GLAAD did not report on the this issue until September 20, 2010 when the Montana AP went national with this issue.

http://www.glaad.org/page.aspx?pid=1871

They knew about it in mid June 2010 , when the Montana 2010 GOP Plank was issued.

If Lady Gaga knew that Montana, Wyoming and Idaho were not on the radar of the national gay rights agenda, I wonder how fast the shit would hit the fan…. The fact is, there is a priority system in favor of numbers- not ideology, among the big gay rights organizations. And sexy publicity that makes noise and press gets the action- not oppressive legislation or codified bigotry affecting only a fraction of the population.

It’s not right. All persecuted human beings in the USA deserve equal support- even in the less populous states.

That’s all my post was supposed to say. That’s all I want- equal treatment for all by the equal rights organizations to which I belong. Not third-class citizenship based on where someone happens to be born, work or live.

I am a member of HRC. I have been for years. I am not ready to give up on them- or GLAAD, not yet- but I do want them to know that we are paying attention out here.

And, hopefully, you are, too.

Disturbed? Run For Office!

A friend recently drew my attention to some of the similarities between the recently announced KKK GOP Congressional candidate in Montana and some of the extremist members of the Republican Party in the Montana Legislature. I thought I’d share a few with you. So, just to catch you up:

John Abarr, a former organizer for the KKK, filed to run in the Republican primary for Montana’s congressional seat on May 25, 2011. (More info here: http://helenair.com/news/article_613dd194-8cdc-11e0-9dfc-001cc4c002e0.html)

Abarr’s ties to the KKK have been well documented. Of his affiliation with the Klan, he has said:

“It’s not any different than the NAACP,” he says. “The Klan is basically a civil rights organization that stands up for the rights of white people. The Montana Human Rights Network likes to blow everything out of proportion.”

Gotta love the logic. Republicans, such as gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill have tried to distance themselves from this guy.  However, after this legislative session in Montana, it’s hard to deny the fact that he is well within the extremist wing of the Republican party.

LGBT Issues

Abarr has also called for the deportation of gays, lesbians and Jewish people: http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/etc/Content?oid=1133942 And, as I’ve reported numerous times, the Montana Republican Party Platform calls for the re-criminalization of gay people in the state:

“We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.”

During the Legislative session, Republicans refused to remove language that had been ruled unconstitutional by both the state and federal supreme courts calling for the criminalization of gays and lesbians from Montana law. And they made  disgusting comments on the bill :

 Some Republicans even denied that the courts had struck down the statute

HIV/AIDS

According to the Human Rights Network, Abarr sent a flier to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2007, urging Bozeman residents to stay inside to avoid contracting HIV during the Montana Pride Celebration. He claimed that HIV could be transmitted by air. 

During the most recent legislative session, Republican House Speaker Pro Tempe, Rep. Janna Taylor claimed people in prison were spreading HIV by blowdarts: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=igYKflAdzjo&feature=channel_video_title

Racial Minorities

Abarr said of his choice to move to Montana:

“I’ve pretty much decided since I spent some time in California that it (a pure white Christian nation) is just not gonna be. I mean there’s so many of them (racial minorities),” Abarr says, adding that in Montana it’s easier to achieve an all-white society.”

Republican Rep. James Knox introduced a bill that would redefine what a citizen of Montana is and essentially ignore the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. This bill would have likely removed citizenship from Native Americans and the children of immigrants in the state.

Convinced? I’ll bet there’s more if you look.

The key to redefining politics in this state is to redefine politicians. We effectively tied the hands of the most effective tool (building relationships) by enacting term limits. There is no longer any reason for any of our state legislators to cultivate relationships for the good of the people of the State of Montana- instead, people are just interested in ramming their own crazy-ass agendas through the legislative process.

Reason will only prevail when we elect reasonable people- people who are interested in communicating, are not threatened by differences and will work to guarantee a future in this state for all its people- not just a few…

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.

Flathead News Alert!

Cowgirl reports that Frank Miele, editor of the Flathead Daily Interlake is a vitriolic birther, who’s defending Billy Bob Wagner’s bill to require presidential birth certificates to be on the ballot in Montana. Miele also goes after Anderson Cooper, on whose show Wagner was completely unmasked as a redneck jackass (apologies to Democrats).

Must be seen to be believed. Read it here.

 

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