HELENA – The Montana House decisively voted Tuesday to repeal Montana’s law making gay sex a crime, putting the bill one step away from the governor’s desk.

After a half-hour of emotional debate, both for and against the measure, the House voted 64-36 to endorse Senate Bill 107 – one day after House members narrowly voted to remove it from the House Judiciary Committee, where it had been tabled on a party-line vote with Republicans in favor.

“It’s not about encouraging a lifestyle,” said Rep. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, one of the Legislature’s few openly gay members. “It’s simply about respecting privacy between two adults. ... It’s just as simple as saying that all Montanans deserve dignity and respect.”

Twenty-five Republicans joined all 39 House Democrats to support the bill, which removes gay sex from the definition of the crime of “deviate sexual relations,” a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.

SB107, sponsored by Sen. Tom Facey, D-Missoula, faces a final vote in the House, probably Wednesday, before heading to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk for his signature into law.

Passage of SB107 would culminate more than 20 years of attempts by gay and lesbian activists and their supporters to repeal the law, which lumps gay sex in with “sexual intercourse with an animal” as criminal deviate sexual conduct.

A 1997 decision by the Montana Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional and Montana prosecutors have not enforced it – but repeated attempts to repeal the law, until Tuesday, have been blocked primarily by Republicans in the Legislature.

On Tuesday, several Republicans stood up to oppose the bill, saying repealing the law goes against their religious beliefs and would allow the “homosexual lifestyle” to be taught in schools.

“If some second-grade teacher wants to take her lover and introduce her lover to the kids, I don’t think there is anything that the school board can do to stop that,” said Rep. Jerry O’Neil, R-Columbia Falls.

Rep. Dave Hagstrom, R-Billings, said he was voting against the bill because gay sex can’t reproduce people, and therefore is deviant behavior.

“To me, sex’s primary purpose is to produce people,” he said. “Sex that doesn’t produce people is deviant. That doesn’t mean it’s a problem. It just means it’s not doing its primary purpose.”

But other GOP members spoke in favor, including Rep. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, who said the law labeled his own daughter a criminal.

“To say she is any less of a person or a criminal for her lifestyle ... really upsets me,” he said. “I consider myself a good Christian ... and I don’t think God thinks any less of my daughter than he does of any one of you in here. The law is an embarrassment on the people of Montana. It should go away.”

Rep. Jonathan McNiven, R- Huntley, said voting for the bill doesn’t mean he endorses homosexuality.

“I don’t support this type of lifestyle,” he said. “I think we need to keep our eye on the ball and start promoting marriage as a union between a man and a woman. …

“But that’s not what this bill says. I am going to vote for this bill because we still love these people. We want to help these people. Every one of us is not perfect.”

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

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(30) comments

Dubs

This is creepy. Do what you want but get out of everyone's face about it.

Vielfrass

Reading many of these comments, I can't help thinking of Pastor Ted Haggard. Preaching against the evils of homosexuality in his mega-church in Colorado Springs while getting "massages" from a gay prostitute in Denver. Vehement critics of other people's sexuality always make me wonder about their motivation. Why do you care so much? In which concrete way does this issue affect your lives? Here you come up with a blank, of course.

So now your argument forces you from the concrete and measurable directly to the supernatural. "My magic book says it is wrong." Good. I can't argue against magic, but let me try:

Sticking with the warm fuzzy part of the magic book (followers of the book always cry foul when the Old Testament is quoted in all of its brutality), let us quote Romans:

...and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error....

Let me try to understand this. G was upset because his humans were shaping their pottery into birds and reptiles instead of constantly praising him. Not wanting to punish them directly for this "crime", he turned them gay so that he could punish them for their gayness (which he just magically made happen) but really indirectly because they were making little statues.

Um.........

Wow.


BJG1

It's really interesting that the so called "christians" who have commented are really radical bigots who can make judgement on others lives,but seem to find no fault with their own lives. Making judgements about others is real easy....but take a long hard look at your own lives...
Sodomy was ruled unconstitutional years ago. Oh, and by the way, it is not just practiced by gays...it is also a pretty common practice among the hetros as well.

Veteran

To Gomez... Look up Immoral in the dictionary...that is where its defined..
and just because the legislators will vote to legalise it does not make it
morally correct...
Look at the cost of Drinking and Gambling to the Taxpayer. The harm it
causes on the whole to society. Specifically the people in prison for DUI
and the Gambling addicts that embezzal and steal to gamble. Costing
about $ 50,000.00 a year to the taxpayer to imprison.
Just because it is legal does not make it morally correct.

DavidStalling
DavidStalling

And God knows we should all live in accordance with your personal views of morality, hey? I think bias, bigotry and hate is immoral and has huge negative impacts on society, but as you so clearly illustrate it's prevelent and legal.

Veteran

Why should I accept "The Gay Sex argument" when it counter to my civil liberties?
Here is a point a view I found I total agree with:
As more and more states pass “sexual orientation” legislation, they are seeing an abridgement of civil liberties. In Philadelphia a few years ago, a small group of Christians were peacefully demonstrating at a homosexual parade. The group was comprised of 11 people, one was a grandmother. They were arrested and spent 21 hours in jail.
In 2008, an African-American woman, Crystal Dixon, was removed from her position as associate vice president of Human Resources at the University of Toledo simply because she wrote an op-ed in a newspaper saying that homosexual behavior should not be compared to being black.
In 2008, a college professor in California, June Sheldon, was fired for leading a brief discussion on homosexuality. Albert Buonanno and others were fired from their corporate and government jobs for not wanting to “celebrate” at their work place “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” diversity.
The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ordered a female photographer to pay over $6,000 to a lesbian couple for declining to photograph their commitment ceremony on the grounds that it violated her Christian beliefs.
The Boys Scouts in Boston were no longer allowed free use of city facilities because of their policies.
In California, a doctor was sued for declining to artificially inseminate a woman in a lesbian relationship.
In Arlington, Virginia, the Human Rights Commission went after a Christian printer who would not duplicate two pro-homosexual films for lesbian activist Lillian Vincenz.
A California software maker was forced to pay a settlement and legal fees totaling over $1 million because the company did not promote a man who had come to work dressed as a woman. It did not matter that the company did not even know the “woman” was a man.
I could go on and on. There are so many case of Americans losing their right of free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expressive association because of “sexual orientation” policies.
On the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Web site, an article, “Should Homosexuals Have ‘Equal Protection’ Rights Based on their ‘Sexual orientation’?” by guest writer Matthew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “Homosexual behavior should not be accorded special protection.” He said, “The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 laid the foundation for future civil rights laws.” The underlying characteristic of the protected classes include 1. A history of longstanding, widespread discrimination, 2, Economic disadvantage, and 3. immutable characteristics. Sexual orientation defiantly does not meet any of the three objective criteria.”
In the same ACLU article, Tony Marco said, “Gays as a class, while representing perhaps 2 percent of America’s population, represent a political force superior to 99.9 percent of all American political action committees. Enough money makes any group a ‘majority’ and certainly insulates any group from becoming ‘second-class citizens.’ Therefore, in no way can a case be made that gays as an entire class should be afforded protections equal to those enjoyed by traditionally protected or suspect classes. Thus, denying gay militants that class status and those protections is eminently rational, given the criteria established to rule inclusion in those classes.”
The truth is homosexuals have never been denied the right to vote, forced to sit in the back of the bus or denied access to public drinking fountains, as black Americans were. We do not have “homosexual housing projects” or “gay ghettos.” And according to the Wall Street Journal, homosexuals enjoy almost double the disposable income of heterosexuals and almost four times that of black Americans.
Do not believe anyone who claims that adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the anti-discrimination ordinance will not lead down the road to an abridgement of civil liberties for those who disapprove of homosexual and transgender behavior. All evidence suggests otherwise. The acceptance of “sexual orientation” as a civil right is having profound effect on businesses and American society as a whole. Homosexual editor Chris Crain openly boasts that the drive for “gay” domestic partner benefits has fueled a dramatic erosion in respect for marriage. As the drive for acceptance of homosexuality increases, societal support for marriage and families decreases with predictable negative consequences. One of them is a loss of freedom for people who believe in traditional morality. The stakes are very high. Absent a marriage-based culture, can American continue to function as a self-governing republic? History indicates that the chances are slim.
Montana is one of four states that voted against adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to our anti-discrimination laws. We can thank both Democrats and Republicans for coming together in our last three legislative sessions and voting to protect our constitutional rights. They know that freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expressive association are important to all Montanans

JohnR

So you're concerned with civil liberties as they pertain to everyone except people you disagree with? Sure. Makes sense. Hitler made a pretty similar argument against the Jews. I think what you meant to say was... "the loss of freedom, i.e. - the ability to systematically oppress people who don't share my views -- for people who believe in traditional morality."

Moral codes evolve as societies advance. At one time, traditional morality did not preclude the ownership of other humans. Your views on traditional morality are now immoral. They have always been inherently immoral; it just took the majority of American society this long to realize it and make them immoral in the context of our shared moral code.

It has always been, and will always be, inherently immoral to oppress groups of people -- even when you dislike them. The simple truth -- as is so clearly evident to everyone except the most brainwashed Christians and Muslims (yes, you share views on this one) -- is that if God does exist, and if he is capable of hatred -- he does not hate gays. He hates you.


DavidStalling
DavidStalling

So, to sum up your long-winded argument: 1) You don't think that Americans like me should have the same freedoms, liberties, rights, equality and protections under the law that Americans like you enjoy; 2) Because the bias, bigotry, hate and violence often directed towards us is different in many ways than it was towards blacks, we should shut up and accept being second-class citizens; and 3) Granting Americans like me the same freedoms, rights, equality and protections under the law that Americans like you enjoy will negatively effect your freedom to be a discriminatory bigot and impose your moral values and beliefs on the rest of us? I must say: I don't agree.

DavidStalling
DavidStalling

PS: I do agree that freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expressive association are important to all Montanans, including us gay Montanans. So is freedom, equality, liberty and justice for all, including us gay Montanans. Your freedom to be a bias, discrimatory bigot will not at all be effected by our freedom and equality.

hellgatenights

GAY SEX? No. There is no such term, the topic here is SODOMY. I know.....it sounds better calling it by a false name......but let's call it what it is.

As the law was deemed unconstitutional and is not enforced, it has no TEETH. So why does gay man Bryce Bennett demand floor time in Helena to quash the law? He has not been injured in any way??

Answer: "It’s just as simple as saying that all Montanans deserve dignity and respect."

This is what Bennett said. Whenever we see this this non-issue stinking up our politics we find some gay person(s) "Demanding Respect."

Nope. Sorry Charlie......you can't buy respect, nor can you legislate it. I do not "Respect" your choice in lifestyle, and I despise the fact that you are wasting valuable floor time in congress to vent your self esteem issues.

JohnR

Thanks for making such valuable distinctions on the methods you employ to dispense your bigotry.

DavidStalling
DavidStalling

Bryce Bennett never said that respect should be bought or legislated; he said that all Montanans deserve dignity and respect. Apparently, most agree with him and repealed the law out of respect. Fortunately, not everyone is as disrespectful as you towards others simply because they were born and are gentically wired to be different than themselves. I dodo not respect your choice to be so close-minded and ignorant -- but it's a wonderfully diverse world.

DavidStalling
DavidStalling

Whatever happened to good ole' traditional, moral biblical values? Next thing you know, people are going to want to make it legal for farmers to plant more than two kinds of crops in a field; allow folks to eat shellfish; let people wear clothes made of mixed fabrics; permit football players to handle pig skins on Sundays, and keep us from righteously stoning women to death if they can't prove they're virgins before they marry . . . Montana is going to hell.

DPotter

I must say I am surprised by the obsessive interest some of you express in other people's sex lives. It's not only dysfunctional it's rather undignified. My gay and lesbian friends are far too busy living real lives obsessing about career paths, children, grandchildren (there's a shocker for you) aging parents, how to pay the bills, what to have for dinner and all the myriad mundane details of day-to-day life to give that much attention to their own sex lives let alone yours. Their relationships are every bit as complex, infuriating, delightful, fulfilling, nurturing and difficult as yours. As for PDA or any other unseemly public behavior including ostentatious prayer at anything other than a religious meeting, do what polite people have done for ages, ignore it and mind your own business

Chuck Feney
Chuck Feney

The statute in question makes no reference to "gay sex".
It does refer to the crime of "sodomy".
__________________

Put It Behind Ya', Boys!

Sodomites no longer feel the need to run
'Cause the Republicans got the job done
Now Montana's gays
Can long for the days
Of being sentenced to Deer Lodge for fun!

But in this era of P.C. verbal economy
Writers can't even use the word sodomy
These nervous train wrecks
Prefer to call it "gay sex"...
They must have had a frontal lobotomy!
______
C.U.F.

AARGH

It's like the Government not getting the gun ban passed, so they're buying all of the Ammo!
The republicans can't keep gays from getting married, but they can try to take away the Ammo... so to speak. I'm so glad I have stepped away from the Republican party. Although I still think liberals are contemptuous morons with little scruples, I've found the Republcian party to have turned the corner in that direction.

HelenWheels

This is too easy.

"Sex that doesn't produce children is deviant."

If Rep. Hagstrom has been married for more than a few years, he had better have a boatload of kids, at least twenty. No birth control allowed and of course he will have to stop having sex with his wife when she is too old to have children.

The Montana legislature is an embarrassment again.

MissoulaMom

I am very happy that this law will be off of our books. This law is not even enforceable--the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws like this in Lawrence v. Texas. Having a law on our books that criminalizes our fellow Montanans who happen to be gay just makes us look like a backward, uneducated state populated by hateful people. We are all equal here under the Big Sky, and we do not discriminate against our fellow neighbors.

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

Continues to amaze me that the Republicans, the Potter Party as I call them, who espouse less government interference in our personal lives, want to dictate moral principle top us and come in our bedrooms and criminalize acts THEY find or define as immoral. I to am a veteran and fought for ALL people in this country no matter their color and persuasion. I do not understand the gay lifestyle. I gag when I see two men kissing in public or on the cover of Time magazine a few weeks ago. Does that make any of us with that reaction a bigot? I don't think so. I do not agree with the life style of gays. I do think they are grown ups who get to pick what they want to do in their personal lives without my interference. If I do not like what they do I do not have to be around it. As far as gay marriage is concerned, I only can say if two same sex people wish to form a union together, fine. Give them the same benefits even though I do not agree with their definition of marriage. It means I am tolerant of others belief systems and that is what this country is all about. What will change our culture will happen from within not from the halls of any legislature. Key word here is tolerant. Yes it violates many of our spiritual beliefs. The founder of my faith said it best..."judge not that you not be judged." I will leave that judgement to the Creator and whatever controls this universe. All of us should think about mercy and tolerance rather than judgement. It is ok to not like the gay lifestyle but the premise in this country is not religious persecution and arm twisting but the freedom to believe as we will as long as it does not effect the life of others.

MTminded

Public policy should not be dictated by neanderthals..period.

TwoToad

Neither should bigotry.

Veteran

I would like to start with a statement. I firmly believe in the democracy of the U.S. and
the Constitution. I am a Honorably discharged Navy Veteran, that swore to
defend our Constitution an the freedoms it represents and protects.
I was raised in Montana in a NON Christian home. I was taught that lying,
stealing, cheating, along with drunkenness and promiscuous behavior were wrong and immoral .
Immoral by definition [ɪˈmɒrəl] adj
1. transgressing accepted moral rules; corrupt
2. sexually dissolute; profligate or promiscuous
3. unscrupulous or unethical
4. tending to corrupt or resulting from corruption
That gambling, prostitution, drug abuse, pedophiles and homosexual acts of sodomy
were illegal and immoral.
But now I find my long standing moral convictions under attack by Homosexuals. Stating
that because I don't accept their immoral behavior, that I am bigoted and hateful, that
they should have rights to protect their immoral choices. That I should accept same
sex marriage. I thought marriage was a religious union between a MAN and
a WOMAN. Accepted social behavior that defined a family, you know dad, mom, kids.
In my high school and college biology classes, I was taught the reproductive cycles of
animals, with the exception of a few species that have both sexes. It take a
male and female to reproduce the next generation of their species.
I have researched words associated with marriage, sex, family and the homosexual. No
where can I fined homosexuals in marriage and family in a moral context. Homosexuals
can not reproduce and procreate a family as defined, no matter how much they protest,
harass and push their immoral behavior, and beliefs on others.
I have noticed they try to redefine these words to accept homosexual behavior.
It takes two species of the opposite sex to reproduce off spring.
Not only is their behavior immoral, but its un-natural, against everything that is natural
in the world.
So with that said. I have one question. Where in the Constitution does it protect
immoral behavior? Homosexual behavior is immoral and against the laws of nature.

dave ajou
dave ajou

You were raised in a home with strong values and strong moral convictions. May I also assume you were raised to think critically ? Throwing gambling into the litany of sins indicates a deep fundamentalism, particularly considering that it's legal. Do you not think, and realize, that so very many of the people you are loathe to accept were raised under those same values ? Can you accept the reality that the majority of them are every bit as honorable and upstanding as you are ? If you allow yourself to accept the truth that fundamentally these are upstanding and morally honest people, it's not so hard to move past the notion that because they are in a same sex relationship, they somehow are a threat, or a challenge to decency. Thank you for your service to our country.

Veteran

Look up Immoral in the dictionary...that is where its defined.. and just because the legislators will vote to legalise it does not make it morally correct... Look at the cost of Drinking and Gambling to the Taxpayer. The harm it causes on the whole to society. Specifically the people in prison for DUI and the Gambling addicts that embezzal and steal to gamble. Costing about $ 50,000.00 a year to the taxpayer to imprison. Just because it is legal does not make it morally correct.

Gomez

Immoral as defined by who, you?

1. transgressing accepted moral rules; corrupt

Well at this point it is commonly accepted that homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon among most species, so you cannot place a moral rule on something that naturally occurred in nature.

2. sexually dissolute; profligate or promiscuous

Sexually promiscuous? That means you want to make it illegal for a large majority of the heterosexual population to have sex as well. Better start to build bigger prisons.

3. unscrupulous or unethical

As defined by whom? IMO a gay couple is no more unscrupulous or unethical than a straight couple.

4. tending to corrupt or resulting from corruption

Again, as defined by who? If you want to imply gays are corrupting our youth with overly sexualized behavior & images you'd better look at our current pop culture in general. Have you watched TV or been to a movie recently?

Seriously, you need to get a grip. You are overly obsessed with what other people are doing in the privacy of their own lives. The type of morality you seem to want to impose on others seems very similar to the religious laws that the Taliban uses.

Veteran

To Gomez... Look up Immoral in the dictionary...that is where its defined.. and just because the legislators will vote to legalise it does not make it morally correct... Look at the cost of Drinking and Gambling to the Taxpayer. The harm it causes on the whole to society. Specifically the people in prison for DUI and the Gambling addicts that embezzal and steal to gamble. Costing about $ 50,000.00 a year to the taxpayer to imprison. Just because it is legal does not make it morally correct.

JohnR

Most people (conservative people, anyway) define "moral sex" as consenting sex that occurs within the sanctity of marriage. Premarital sex is immoral.

By that logic, wouldn't it make more sense to give more people the ability to free themselves from the chains of immoral sex by allowing them to get married? They're not going to stop having sex. So why not do it as committed, monogamous couples?

And please don't give me the procreation argument, because a) it invalidates pretty much every marriage in America and 2) it assumes we need to encourage more people to have kids, when in fact the opposite is true. The good arguments in favor of marriage are about stability and family values. Those same arguments apply for homosexuals.

Vielfrass

If it occurs in nature, it obviously is not against the laws of nature.

Mad Dog Mike
Mad Dog Mike

Abberant behavior should not be legalized..period

JohnR

Good point!

Except it was aberrant behavior on the part of Jesus that formed the foundation of Christianity.

It was aberrant behavior on the part of this country's founders that gained us our freedom.

It was aberrant behavior on the part of abolitionists that freed the slaves.

It was aberrant behavior on the part of women that gained them the freedom to vote.

It was aberrant behavior on the part of African Americans in the south that ended Jim Crow laws. Aberrant behavior by Rosa Parks when she refused to sit in the back of the bus.

Leviticus 20:13 actually says (New Living Translation): "The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have committed a detestable act, and are guilty of a capital offense."

Come on good Christians who teach love and tolerance... are you ready to support that statement? Or do you have the common sense to realize that in this case, the bible is making an inherently immoral claim. And immoral claims should be rejected, even when they come from the bible.

History will remember you, and people like you, the same way it remembers the people who stood in front of the school in Little Rock trying to keep black students out. As bigots.

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