Havre Has It!

A kick-ass event, that is.

The Havre Daily News had a great write-up about today’s event with Jamee Greer of the Montana Human Rights Network and the Pride Foundation’s Montana Organizer, Caitlin Copple. The meeting will be held in the Crowley Room, on the second floor of MSU Northern’s Student Union tonight from 6-8pm. It’s purpose is

 “to hear the inside scoop on the 2011 Legislature and its implications” for civil rights of Montana’s gay and lesbian community, according to an email from Pride Foundation Organizer Caitlin Copple.

Copple and MHRN lobbyist Jamee Greer are bringing their organizations together for this meeting, which Greer said made this event unique from others he has already held in Missoula, Bozeman and Whitefish.

Part of the reason that Havre will be receiving special treatment is because it is Hansen’s home district, after she sponsored House Bill 516, a bill that was intended to overturn a Missoula ordinance protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

We all remember Kris Hansen, don’t we? If not, try going here.

Good things being done by good people. Support them if you can.

HDN story here.

Marriage, Civil Unions, Platform Planks and Communion

What do all of these things have in common?

The answer in my head is this: injustice. Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

Marriage
Last week, New York joined ConnecticutIowaMassachusettsNew HampshireVermont, plus Washington, D.C. and the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon in granting human beings the right to marry another human being and to enjoy all the rights and privileges thereof.

It was a dramatic moment for me.

I was sitting in the kitchen of two people I love very dearly (State of Washington-certified Domestic Partners), watching them make dinner while Tweeting the progress of the New York Senate and holding the hand of the man I love. I was thinking about the impact this could have on my life. To wit: If New York legislates marriage, does that mean that all the state constitutional bans on marriage equality will eventually be struck down and I could marry this man I love in the state we were both born in, live in, work in, pay taxes in, own property in? That I could enjoy the freedoms other people so casually have without the sense of gross injustice that people who are discriminated against know and feel deeply?

Wow. Maybe it COULD happen.

And then, the legislation passed and I experienced the same shiver of joy I felt when I first said “I’m gay” to another living person. Relief and truth and happiness. All rolled into one. And I knew I was not alone. This may have happened in New York, but it was felt all over the world- and the irony is not lost. The echoes of Stonewall nearly half a century ago, reverberated in every subsequent Tweet, text and Facebook update.

It was really happening.

Civil Unions
Rhode Island this week passed a bill which grants human beings the right of Civil Union if they do not qualify for marriage as defined by the state. Another dramatic moment for me. Rhode Island is heavily Catholic- I never thought this would fly here.

Well, at least not very easily.

It is very well worth noting, that Catholics, for the most part, have an overwhelming sense of social justice. Almost all of the polls conducted show a sensitivity to social issues on the part of American Catholics unparalleled by their Protestant counterparts. Still, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been working overtime to strike fear into the hearts of the people in the pews regarding human marriage. With phrases like “protect your children/family”, “slippery slope”,”moral decay”, “dangerous precedent”, the Catholic leadership has worked to make this particularly deep social justice issue one of moral urgency. I thought it might work.

I was afraid it might.

But Chicken Little and his frantic fear-mongering fell on (mostly) deaf ears. The Catholics in the pews remembered their catechism’s teachings on love, compassion and justice and supported non-discrimination in Rhode Island. That bodes well for the rest of the U.S., especially since more Catholics than not support marriage equality (and that number is poised to increase as the demographic ages).

Some say it’s not enough- we need full marriage. And they’re right. But listen to Rhode Island. They have something important to say- and it’s good news.

Platform Planks
Yeah, I know. I just can’t shut up about this. But doesn’t all of the above make the Montana Republicans and their bigoted platform plank look even more ridiculous and irrelevant?

Communion
A Vatican Adviser last week called for excommunicating Governor Andrew Cuomo for supporting free choice in human marriage in the State of New York. Professor Edward Peters of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit advocated using the Eucharist as “punishment” and “a warning” for others in official positions who might be considering following Cuomo’s lead. It doesn’t matter that the church has been slow to respond on civil rights issues before- the lesson seems to be lost. Well, on the higher-ups anyway (see above).

The dogmaticism of the Roman Catholic hierarchy is increasingly out of touch with the sensus fidelium– the ability of the people of the church to sense the propriety of doctrine and official positions within the church. The people are clearly seeing something that all the combined high-hatted prelates of the world cannot: discrimination based on sexuality is an injustice- and human marriage discrimination is an injustice.

Period.

The reasonable and thoughtful Catholics I know, the people in the pews who know me and know my partner see that all we want is to have the dignity and respect of just one of Newt Gingrich’s marriages. Just one. They realize that the love I have for this man is not a threat to them, or to the church, or to God. Marriage is not a threat to anyone. It’s just a simple recognition of the truth.

The truth of two human beings who love each other and simply want to publicly commit to their common welfare. Maybe with their children. Or a few chihuahas or cats running around. Whatever. No big deal.

Except that it is.

The levels of denial and refusal to acknowledge reality here by equality opponents is bordering on the psychotic. It’s becoming ridiculous. The good news is that with New York, Rhode Island and a very successful Montana Pride, it looks like most of America is beginning to realize that.

The sky isn’t falling after all. In fact, it’s beckoning us, welcoming us.

With a fucking rainbow.

“It’s Easy To Stand Up And Argue Without Facts”

nuts

…so said Billy Bob Wagner, “rising to address those who were attacking his gold-and-silver bill.”

I know!

And there’s more!
Read Ed Kemmick’s full article on the craziness of the MT Legislature here.

HB 516 Returned To Committee

HB 516, the legislation written to overturn the rights of local governments to enact protection ordinances, has been returned to the Local Governance Committee. Mike Wessler:

Throughout the session, we have been following Rep. Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill. This bill seeks to nullify Missoula’s non-discrimination ordinance that expands protections in the state’s human rights act to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Hansen’s bill would also prohibit any other city from passing similar measures.

Last Friday, supporters of equality and dignity in our state were dealt a blow when the bill received approval from its Senate committee. With this decision by the committee, the bill was headed for it’s final debate–a full debate on the Senate floor…or so we thought.

Today, shortly before the full Senate was slated to debate the measure, Republicans–out of nowhere–asked that the bill be sent back to committee. They cited the revelation of new information as their reason for this action. The bill was quickly returned to the committee.

While at this point, we cannot say anything definitive about the reason …, however, if history teaches us anything, it is that when bills are sent back to committee, it is not a good sign for the ultimate fate of the bill. One can’t help but wonder if today’s polling on the actions of the GOP scared a few of them out of supporting such a discriminatory measure.

And maybe my last post about the miserable treatment LGBT persons have received at the hands of this legislature had something to do with it.

Nah.
They’re not that smart.

Update: The Associated Press reports:

A Republican senator says a measure to overturn a Missoula city ordinance that protects gay people from discrimination lacks support from GOP leadership.

The Senate Local Government Committee passed House Bill 516 last week. But the bill was returned to the committee Tuesday and chairman Sen. Jon Sonju says it is doubtful the measure will go to the Senate floor.

Sonju says he moved the measure back to committee because it doesn’t have the support of Senate leaders.

The proposal, carried by Republican Rep. Kristin Hansen, drew lengthy testimony during its hearings in the House and Senate.

Supporters said the bill would overturn an unconstitutional ordinance that infringes on the state’s authority.

Opponents said the measure is targeted against the gay community and interferes with local governments’ ability to govern.