…is wonderfully summarized by Don Pogreba over at Intelligent Discontent:
In stops in Butte and Ekalaka, Gianforte repeated his refusal to offer a substantive comment on Right to Work, no doubt because he simply doesn’t want to tell the truth: that he will certainly sign any Right to Work legislation authored by a Republican Legislature. The audio from Butte is incredibly dishonest. Asked repeatedly if he would sign Right to Work legislation, Mr. Gianforte kept retreating into a political non-answer about “not making it a priority” before wandering off to a talking point about his high school football days. Seriously.
He’s hoping no one will notice how extreme he is, but I don’t think Montanans are that intolerant or stupid.
And if you want an excellent overview of this “scientist”‘s definitely un-science-y views on biology, sexuality and psychology, go here.
This man would be a disaster for Montana.
An excellent post by The Montana Cowgirl (reposted with her permission)
Montana lawmakers who have spent the entirety of their paltry careers voting against equality now find themselves on the wrong side of history. In the wake of the upcoming supreme court decision on equal marriage, no one who reads a newspaper can come to any other conclusion. Even Rush Limbaugh says marriage equality is inevitable.
The nutjob wing of Montana’s Republican Party aren’t just wrong, they’re way out in right field, and soon to be there alone. Montana is one of only four states that has a law on the books that makes being gay an imprisonable offense. This fact alone is despicable, but when you consider what else the Montana Legislature has done you start to wonder if the Montana legislature isn’t among the most bigoted in America.
Consider this: During the past 21 legislative sessions least 32 bills have been introduced to make all Montanans equal under the law. Some, like Sen. Facey’s SB 107 attempted to repeal the “deviate sexual conduct” law, other would have prevent discrimination in housing, or stopped the bullying of young people in schools. Many have been introduced by Sen. Christine Kaufmann, of Helena.
Not a single one of these bills has ever passed in the history of this state.
But it’s worse than that. The Montana legislature isn’t content with blocking equality bills. They’ve tried year after year to make things worse.
Look what they did in 1995, when Republican Senator Rick Holden added an amendment to a bill to require gay men and lesbians to register as felony sex offenders. Democrats tried to remove the amendment, but 32 of 50 Senators voted to keep it in.
It was only after twenty-four hours of scathing national press coverage from CNN that the Republicans were finally forced to take the sex offender amendment out. But not before Billings GOP Sen. Al Bishop decided to share his beliefs with the world. He said consensual activity between people of the same sex was “a worse offense than rape.” (The bill was HB 214 and predates the online legislative search.)
Anyway, the Chick-Fil-A munching bunch was not happy to be denied a “felony sex offender registry” of gay citizens. A couple of days later anti-gay slurs and graffiti were “scrawled across the doors of the capitol, and a famous statue was defaced. With no sense of irony, and no mention of the anti-gay nature of the spray-painted slogans, Senators introduced a bill to make defacing the capitol a felony.”
And who could forget what happened ten years later in 2005, when the all-day kindergarten was opposed by religious right Repubs, who claimed bill was part of the “gay agenda.” “The purported evidence given by these groups was that gay activists were NOT at the hearing, proving it was part of the activists’ secret agenda.”
Public sentiment is now so firmly behind equality that the reaction to democratic politicians who announce their support at this late date ranges from “who isn’t” to “where were you earlier.” The Montana Senate even voted, finally, to erase our “anti-sodomy law” which makes it an imprisonable crime to be gay. Although invalidated by our state supreme court in 1997, the law has remained on our books because Republicans have always refused to go along with efforts to scrap it.
Now, SB 107, a measure to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate. That said, the vote was far from unanimous. Ten Republicans voted no.
Any day now the bill will be voted on in committee, and then on the Floor of the House. No assumptions can be made about body which includes Verdell Jackson, Krayton Kearns, David Howard and Jerry O’Neil, so start contacting the lawmakers in the House of Representatives, which you can do via this online form. FYI, you can always use the back button after submitting your message, which allows you to skip retyping all your info when you contact multiple legislators. Or you can cut and paste this list of House GOP legislators.
Conservatives were on the wrong side of history with women’s suffrage, they were on the wrong side of segregation. Let’s see whose side they’re on now.
Here’s the link to the effects of the sequester for Montana.
One of the great “benefits” being the inability to pay for 117,000 HIV tests- now free for any Montana resident. And there’s more besides.
On Tuesday, the Montana Senate voted, finally, to erase our “anti-sodomy law” which makes it an imprisonable crime to be gay. Although invalidated by our state supreme court in 1997, the law has remained on our books because Republicans have always refused to go along with efforts to scrap it.
But yesterday, SB 107, a measure to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate. That said, the vote was far from unanimous. Ten Republicans voted no.
To see them, click here.
The terrible events in Newtown sent my mind racing this weekend. I kept coming back to where we in Montana stand on preventing gun violence in our state. It was clear that we’re not just moving in the wrong direction on preventing gun violence in Montana we’re racing in the wrong direction.
The best way to illustrate this point is by looking at the work of Sen. Dave Lewis (R-Helena). Last session, Sen. Lewis chaired the Senate Finance & Claims Committee (the primary Senate budget committee), and, as chair, he slashed funding for crucial services- including mental health services. He and his Republican colleagues maintained that the state didn’t have enough money to pay for treating and providing support for those with mental illness (and some other issues as well).
While Lewis was busy slashing services for Montanans, he sponsored a bill that would have given tax cuts to gun ammunition manufacturers to “ensure availability.”
So in Sen. Dave Lewis’ world, we have enough money to give ammunition manufacturers tax cuts, but we don’t have the money to provide mental health counselling for Montana’s most vulnerable people.
While I do find Lewis to be one of the most detestable political figures in Montana history, this post isn’t about him. It’s about the fact that through their decisions, Montana’s elected officials are making our communities more vulnerable to the types of gun violence we’ve seen throughout the country over the past few years.
In the 2011 legislative session, there were 13 bills introduced related to guns and firearms. Only 2 of these bills could be construed as gun control measures. The rest would have done things to allow guns in banks, bars and other buildings. These bills would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons (simply by telling themselves they were allowed to), and would have even allowed students in public schools to bring guns on campus.
We as a state, much like the country, have to get beyond partisan dogfights over guns and gun violence, and have an honest effort to pass policies that will keep our communities safer. These policies must deal with not only rules about who, when, and where you can carry guns, but they must also deal with ensuring adequate mental health services for all Montanans.
I’ll be honest, I don’t expect our elected officials to display the courage to push responsible gun control laws. But I do think we have an opportunity to tackle the mental health aspect of the puzzle.
The Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act is our best chance to expand mental health coverage to tens of thousands of currently uninsured Montanans. This expansion is the part of the Affordable Care Act(ACA) that the US Supreme Court ruled states had the option of whether or no to implement.
Unfortunately, this expansion is sure to get marred by political games by Republicans who refuse to vote in support of anything related to the ACA. While Republicans may hold majorities in the legislature, Democrat Steve Bullock will hold the Governor’s office, and its bully pulpit and veto pen. He should use this bully pulpit and veto pen to ensure the Medicaid expansion is implemented in our state.
Governor Schweitzer accounted for the expansion in his final budget proposal, but thus far Bullock hasn’t said whether or not he’ll push for the expansion.
I hope that the horrible events of Friday will provide Bullock with a little more incentive to champion the expansion of Medicaid as a means of preventing gun violence in our state, without taking on a battle over gun control laws that he almost certainly cannot win with the legislature. If Bullock does this, we’ll begin to finally take small steps towards preventing gun violence in Montana.