Former Felons Celebration Thursday

From the Facebook event page:

mtgayflagSenate Bill 107 is on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature and last week’s historic vote deserves a celebration!

SB107 finally removes the unconstitutional language from Montana law that labels gays and lesbians felons, punishable by fines of up to $50,000 and/or up to ten years in jail. It was ruled unconstitutional by the Montana Supreme Court in 1997, but remained on the state’s law books because of homophobia and fear. Last week it passed the Montana House on a 64-35 vote, after passing the Montana Senate 38-11.

The passage of SB107 is a “decades in the making” event that deserves some celebrating!

Come enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, music and fun sponsored by the Montana Human Rights Network, Planned Parenthood of Montana, ACLU of Montana, Pride Foundation, and generous personal donations from Senators Tom Facey, Christine Kaufmann, Pat and Carol Williams, Diane Sands, Jamee Greer and Linda Gryczan.

What: Former Felons Celebration
When: Thursday, April 18th at 5:30pm
Where: Jorgenson’s Ballroom, 1714 11th Ave. in Helena
Cost: Free, although donations accepted!

** Governor Steve Bullock will sign Senate Bill 107 earlier that day in a special signing event in the Montana Capitol Building Rotunda at 12:30pm.
All supporters are welcome to attend!

And yes-I’ll be at that signing. No way I’d miss it…..

Montana Legislature: Actively Working To Shame Gay People

Updated. See below….
Things seemed hopeful at the start of this session. From the Great Falls Tribune:

SHAME

SHAME (Photo credit: BlueRobot)

The Montana Supreme Court in 1997 ruled as unconstitutional the portion of the deviate sexual relations law that includes “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex” in the definition that also includes bestiality.

Senate Bill 107, carried by Sen. Tom Facey, would remove it from state code. The Missoula Democrat said the time has come to strike a law that is unenforceable and offensive.

“Words do matter. I hope you can pass this bill to get the unconstitutional words out of our code,” Facey said.

Groups opposed to the law have tried for years to get the Legislature to formally strike language they argue is hurtful. Two years ago, a similar proposal to repeal the law cleared the Senate only to die in the more conservative House.

But since then, the Montana Republican Party has removed from its platform the position that it seeks to make homosexual acts illegal. The party remains opposed to gay marriage.

Freshman Republican state Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer, of Superior, said he is co-sponsoring the measure because it “respects the rights of Montanans.”

But that was then, this is now. Jamee Greer, lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network said this yesterday:

The 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.

Maybe, just maybe.

Maybe they’ll knock it off if we get enough attention on this issue. Anyone have Rachel Maddow’s number?

Update From Jamee: The Senate has not moved SB107 back to committee during floor session today- to amend or “kill” the bill “quietly” in committee….

This can still happen during any floor session, so until they finally give the bill an up-or-down vote, it is in play.

It is a simple question: do you think gays deserve to be associated in the law with those who molest animals, and punished by fines of $50,000 and ten years in jail?

JUST VOTE ALREADY!

Playing “Chicken” In Billings

Jessica Mayrer wrote an article in today’s Missoula Independent about last week’s chicken stand-off in Billings. Money quote:‎

We have got to ratchet back emotion,” Laszloffy says.

Montana Human Rights Network gay rights activist Jamee Greer agrees that violence is never appropriate. However, he finds it ironic that Laszloffy, a man who has consistently branded gays as perverts, sinners and criminals, now wants to tone down the rhetoric. “He’s made his living off of demonizing, scapegoating and harassing LGBT community members,” Greer says. (emphasis mine)

Laszloffy has repeatedly ratcheted up the rhetoric at strategic points along his career- including making veiled threats to one Jamee Greer. See a few of them here.

Now he wants to ratchet back emotion? After stoking the fires of emotion against fellow citizens for years? Now he’s nervous?

Asshat.

Oh, and if anybody knows the identity of the ‘local caterer’ that provided the hate nuggets- I’d love to know, too. And probably so would a lot of people. I’m surprised it wasn’t pursued in the article.

That kind of masked stuff is so 1870’s….

Greer Among Young NW LGBTQ Leaders Invited to The White House

So proud of my friend Jamee….


VP Biden and Dr. Biden to celebrate the next generation of LGBTQ leaders
 
Jamee Greer has been told in public meetings that his kind deserves to be sentenced to death and ridiculed as “Tinkerbell” by a prominent gun lobbyist. Last week, the White House confirmed what members of the LGBTQ Montanans and their supporters have long known: That Greer is one of the finest leaders in the country, and his policy and organizing expertise is essential to ensuring dignity and fairness for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
 
Greer will join other Northwest LGBTQ leaders including Josh Parrish of the ACLU of Idaho, Heather Purser of the Suquamish Tribe (Washington), and Kyle Rapiñan of Seattle Queer Youth Center for a tour of The White House, LGBTQ policy roundtable, and end-of-summer BBQ reception in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, September 19. A fifth community leader, Christian Baeff of CAUSA (Oregon), was invited but is unable to attend.
 
“Jamee’s work on non-discrimination ordinances in Missoula, Helena, and Bozeman, and his steadfast advocacy for all the underdogs in our society made him a clear choice for this invitation,” explains Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of Pride Foundation, the Northwest LGBTQ community foundation that was asked by The White House to suggest people that are leading change in their LGBTQ communities.
 
“Each of these young leaders inspire change by working with their local communities—their dedication to and passion for full LGBTQ equality is inspiring,” adds Hermanns.
 
Greer is employed as a full-time community organizer and lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network, a longtime grantee and partner to the foundation.
 
“It’s an incredible honor and very humbling to be chosen for something like this when there are so many qualified LGBTQ Montanans working every day for equal treatment under the law, and I couldn’t even think of this sort of opportunity happening without their help, including from the folks at Pride Foundation,” Greer said.
 
Greer was born and raised in Bozeman and has worked for the Montana Human Rights Network since the 2009 Legislature. He was lead organizer on the campaign to pass Montana’s first LGBTQ non-discrimination protections through the Missoula City Council in 2010 and is currently leading the campaign to pass a similar ordinance in the state capital of Helena. During legislative sessions, Greer lobbies for MHRN, working on policy related to social and economic justice, including reproductive freedom, LGBTQ equality, immigrant rights, and access to health care.
 
Greer previously worked as an HIV/AIDS tester and counselor with the Montana Gay Men’s Task Force and as a volunteer organizer through the Western Montana Gay & Lesbian Community Center.
 
 
Founded in 1985, Pride Foundation is dedicated to inspiring a culture of generosity to connect and strengthen organizations, leaders, and students who are creating LGBTQ equality across the Northwest states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. To learn more, visit www.pridefoundation.org or email Caitlin@pridefoundation.org.

Montana Pride 2012: It’s Not Just A Party

It’s a time for determined activism and empowerment.

This year, we’ve invited every elected official and candidate from across Montana to meet their LGBT and allied constituents at Montana Pride.

We’ve made Out Legislators Diane Sands, Christine Kaufmann, Bryce Bennett and Montana Human Rights Network organizer/lobbyist Jamee Greer our Grand Marshals. And they will be sharing their stories with Montana Public Radio’s Brian Kahn in the Bozeman Public Library after speaking at the Equality Rally on the Library Front Lawn. A Rally which will feature Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex speakers and performers.

Montana Women Vote will be registering voters during the weekend.

And we have an amazing array of workshops at the MSU SUB on Saturday starting at 3pm 

PFLAG Presents: Inclusive Language: Helping families and friends avoid hoof-in-mouth disease. How to talk about/to our LGBT loved ones and A chapter can be the first ray of sunshine in small communities and be an umbrella to connect efforts in others. Presented by Kathy Reim, PFLAG Pacific Northwest Regional Director and Cesar Hernandez, PFLAG Western Field & Policy Manager

Vagina Facebook: How to friend, things to like, status updates, and blocking creepers for your lady parts. If our vaginas had a grasp on social marketing they would pick better playmates, know all the best products, keep honest medical tabs, and hide from those unwanted pests like herpes. This workshop will use the principles of Facebook to outline 20 new lessons on vulva wellness and user sexuality. Log-on and learn.   Open session for women with doctor of human sexuality and clinical sexologist, Lindsey Doe

It’s Not Your Story Until You Tell It. Author Bobbie Zenker will present a workshop on coming out and telling your story & why it is important. She will share her experiences in writing her memoir, TransMontana, followed by a brief reading. Q&A to follow.

Talking to Churches and Faith Leaders- How Do We Start? Evangelical Christian and LGBT ally Kathy Baldock will offer some guidance and understanding about creating a conversation with Christian faith leaders. She will share her experiences in changing hearts and minds about LGBT persons in churches and faith communities. She will also address the topic of creating “open and affirming” churches.

Yeah, it’s a party, but it’s also a time to be empowered.

Because together, we’re powerful.

And it’s gonna be hard to ignore us in Montana after next weekend….

The Joke (on us) Has (at least for now) Ended.

Yes, folks, the circus that was the 62nd Legislature of the State of Montana has been officially closed.

It was one of the most contentious sessions in memory- and one of the most publicized. Sadly, for Republicans, it was mostly at their expense. Republican lawmakers introduced the most ridiculed and bigoted legislation in Montana history- giving the state its fair share of national media attention. Only some of it good.

Mostly it was about third-rate candidates such as Billy Bob Wagner, who introduced legislation to reinstate the gold standard, and was laughed at nationally on Anderson Cooper 360 for his ridiculous “birther” bill (but mostly for his stupidity). Then there was Kris Hansen, a “secret lesbian” who introduced one of the most pro-discrimination legislative actions to ever hit the aisles of the Capitol. Mary Cheney, anyone? And the Montana GOP, for no good reason other than to perpetuate hate and shame, voted to keep The Gays illegal- and we heard some of the most disgusting testimony to ever foul a Capitol microphone.

And don’t forget (as if I could) Janna Taylor’s ridiculous, ignorant and dangerous comments about HIV in the Montana prison system. In my opinion, the defining moment of the session. And that is a short list of all the craziness perpetuated at the time and expense of the people of Montana-a better list is here.

But I want to take a minute to thank the legislators who spent a great deal of their time and energy standing up for the rights of Montanans. Diane Sands, Carol Williams, Christine Kaufmann and Bryce Bennett all spent a lot of time defending equality and testifying against discrimination, bigotry and homophobia in this session. If you see any of them, thank them. Buy them a drink.

Hell, give them a kidney if they need one.

It is folks such as these- and all who testified, protested, blogged and wrote letters-, who keep our freedoms alive- and who stand in the face of political bigotry and chicanery.  And let’s not forget Jamee Greer, Mike Wessler, Niki Zupanic and all the representatives of groups who lobbied for human equality- they get all the abuse, ridicule and sleepless nights, but not enough recognition. Drinks and kidneys for them, too.

Let’s give Carol Williams the last word (for now):

“I’m proud of our work.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will wish you luck in the next session probably trying to fix a lot of the things we broke this time.”

LGBT Youth, Immigration Equality Reform & Montana Queer Politics

This week Joe and Phil are at the Haas Jr. Foundation LGBT writer, journalist and blogger summit in San Francisco California, however they wanted to share a few special interviews this week while they’re away.

This weekend Joe and Phil will be speaking with leaders around the nation about LGBT youth and family issues–and our interviews will help accent some of these conversations. First Phil speaks with Kelly Huegel, the author of GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teens–just now releasing its second edition–about the challenges faced by LGBT youth in schools, as well as the victories achieved by young queer kids. Then I interview Michael Contorno about the struggle of LGBT youth in coming out, and his inspirational moment meeting his hero, Greg Louganis on the Oprah show.

We also have two extended interviews. First Noemi Masliah and Lavi Soloway–founders of Immigration Equality and top immigration lawyers for same-sex binational couples–talk about their new project: Stop the Deportations–the DOMA Project. Finally, I’m back with Jamee Greer, lobbyist and community organizer for the Montana Human Rights Network, and Mike Wessler, Research Director for the Montana Democratic Party about rural politics, anti-discrimination, LGBT rights, equality and the importance of Montana in the national political landscape.

Listen here. It’s good stuff.