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.

The Montana Taliban’s Jihad

Yesterday, the Montana House of Representatives voted to nullify any local anti-discrimination ordinances (Missoula and Bozeman), forcing cities and towns to rely on state law which doesn’t protect LGBT persons from discrimination. 60 Republicans voted for the bill, all 32 House Democrats joined by seven enlightened Republicans voted against. From The Missoulian

It was the second bill that passed Tuesday to nullify a locally adopted policy in Missoula. Earlier, the House banned enactment of local initiatives such as the one Missoula County voters approved in 2006 to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority of law enforcement.
“It is ironic that the first bill of the day and the last bill of the day both intend to override the expressed will of Missoulians to govern ourselves as we see fit,” said Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula.

It’s time to call a spade a spade.

There is only one way to describe the faction of the Montana Republican party which is voting to legislate their own arrogant morality, usurping the clear will of persons in municipalities to govern themselves in favor of theological, idealogical and biblical precepts while blatantly ignoring science, reason and due diligence: Religious extremism.

Like The Taliban.

And there is not much they won’t do to erode the rights of other human beings- including ignoring valid democratic processes. I almost believe that they won’t be happy until the statue of the Goddess of Liberty is torn from the top of the Capitol Building and replaced with a cross….

In my opinion, term limits have simply contributed to this process, giving people no chance to cultivate relationships and actually govern. Instead, people are focused on issues and positions, not long-term goals and objectives.

Montana’s Taliban needs to be called to accountability. I refuse to believe that the will of the people is to strip other human beings of protections which were carefully put into place by those who know them best. I refuse to believe that the majority of Montanans approve of the ignorant, dirty dancing these legislators are doing in the name of God their constituents. I refuse to believe that most Montanans want LGBT persons discriminated against, maimed- perhaps dead, because of a lack of protection.

Prove me right. Please.

Report The Hate

Okay, I’m gonna ramp things up a bit.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a history of standing with people and groups against hate, prejudice and bigotry. From their website:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, we work toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

We employ a three-pronged strategy to battle racial and social injustice:

  • We track the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists across America, and we launch innovative lawsuits that seek to destroy networks of radical extremists.
  • We use the courts and other forms of advocacy to win systemic reforms on behalf of victims of bigotry and discrimination.
  • We provide educators with free resources that teach school children to reject hate, embrace diversity and respect differences.

They also have a portal for reporting hate incidents under their “Hate Map” of the United States- which is quite interesting, by the way. Just click here and then the button that says “Report a Hate Incident”.

I’m encouraging you to report the Montana GOP for their hateful platform plank:

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

You can also add any weblinks you think appropriate. I would humbly suggest you add this one.

Maybe we’ll get some appropriate attention to end this draconian bigotry. If not, I still have a few aces up my sleeve….


Why Montana Matters

I’ve been getting some exposure over my post Montana Republicans Are Now Officially Homophobes and Bigots. Andrew Sullivan linked to my blog. Outrage was expressed on the Montana GOP’s Facebook page. Another Facebook page wants to “Tell MT Republicans to Remove Hate from their platform“. The Missoulian published my editorial. Several other media outlets picked up the story. I’ve been doing my best to keep the legs under this issue. Other people have been great at spreading the news.

It’s not enough.

People are asking me if I’ve lost my mind- “Why does this matter so much to you?” “Why can’t you let go?” Let me explain.

As long as that plank is in the Montana Republican platform, it sneers at all LGBT persons throughout the United States. As long as that plank exists, it allows bigotry and homophobia to claim official  sanction.  It encourages intolerance, hate and the violation of human rights. It promotes ignorance, both social and scientific. It takes a segment of human society and seeks to criminalize them because of their biology, their sexuality, their choice of self-expression. It creates confusion, shame and fear in the minds of children, parents, institutions and churches. It also creates attitudes of moral superiority and bullying, mocking that phrase “all men are created equal,” substituting Orwell’s “some are more equal than others”. In short, it’s in the best interests of every human being in this country to see that this plank is changed.

Why?

Because you never know who’ll be next.

Sure, Montana isn’t exactly the political mainstream- it isn’t mainstream at all, really. Sure, there aren’t a lot of LGBT persons here. Sure, there isn’t a lot of impact on the rest of you. But this is a STATE. One of Fifty. And along with Texas, it’s discriminating against a specific group of Americans. Where does the creeping stop? Will Wyoming jump on board? Is Idaho next? Utah? Nevada? Arizona? Alaska? Who knows?

Make fun of us if you want, but if you discount Montana and it’s impact on the United States of America, you misread history. Montana’s natural resources and people have nurtured this nation since Lewis and Clark pioneered the Missouri. This isn’t just the home state of Gary Cooper, Myrna Loy, Ivan Doig, Norman MacLean, Evel Knievel, Charlie Russell, Henry Plummer and Ted Kaczyinski. It’s the place that nurtured such prominent political and social figures as Mike Mansfield, Jeannette Rankin, Chet Huntley, Lester Thurow, Lee Metcalf, Jack Horner, David Lynch, Marc Racicot, etc. Political leaders have made this a place to see and be seen. Teddy Kennedy on a bucking bronc in Miles City, or candidate Obama marching in the Butte fourth of July Parade- in fact he was here twice- and returned as president.

It matters. Maybe not to you. Not yet.

But stopping this now will be a hell of a lot easier than later, when it’s YOUR bedroom they’re talking about.