Montana FINALLY repeals law criminalizing homosexuality

The number of Americans who oppose marriage equality is dwindling fast, but it appears many of those remaining homophobes are representing Montana in the legislature.  In spite of the 34 representatives who voted today to retain Montana’s antiquated law criminalizing homosexual sex.  The statute, which classifies homosexuality as sexual deviance, on par with bestiality has been declared unconstitutional in a 1997 decision by Montana’s Supreme Court, but that fact is apparently of no consequence to these representatives, including Rep. Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula)  who is currently running for the Republican candidate for US Senate.  Ten senators earlier voted against repealing this law.

The final House vote tally on SB 107 is as follows:

SB 107 vote tabulation


And the Senate:

SB 107 Senate votes

In case you missed it yesterday, Representative Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip) provided testimony in support of repealing Montana’s ugly and embarrassing law.  Watch his testimony here.  Another Republican supported repealing the law for very different reasons, from the Billings Gazette, (emphasis mine)

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.”

Rep. Hagstrom (R-Billings) said he voted no on SB 107 because gay sex doesn’t reproduce people and therefore is a deviant act.  Rep Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) naturally evoked religion as his justification for opposing the bill, claiming it was his moral obligation not to pass the legislation. “There is an enormous biblical principle here. There is a truth. I know public opinion may be swaying with the time but the truth does not sway and so it was default to scripture.”

Despite the hateful church crowd, the time has finally come to repeal Montana’s law criminalizing gay sex. After 20 years of failed attempts- who could forget last session’s “gay recruiting” testimony by Rep Ken Peterson (R-Billings)-  a repeal decidedly passed both houses and is headed to Governor Bullock’s desk, awaiting a certain signature.

Congratulations to sponsors Sen. Tom Facey ( D-Missoula), Nicholas Schwaderer (R-Superior), Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula);  the other legislators who supported this bill as well as Montana’s LGBT community.  It is time that Montana puts this law in our past.

Take some time to thank the Republicans who did the right thing in voting for SB 107.    For those who didn’t, I guess we could pray for them?


No Confidence in the Champ-ion?

champ-edmundsChamp Edmunds, a relatively unknown Montana legislator (R-Missoula)  is reportedly announcing his run for vulnerable US Senator Max Baucus’s seat at 12:30 pm on Thursday, February 28. Just two days after his blast motion on HB 480, a bill to increase Montana’s incentives to attract movie and television businesses, failed due to a lack of support from Republicans, Edmunds apparently feels confident enough to launch his US Senate campaign.  A no-confidence vote from his own party isn’t a great message for Champ.

Earlier this month, Edmunds sent a letter to his supporters begging for soliciting donations.  In the message, he blasted “establishment Republicans”- presumably GOP opponent Corey Stapleton, former State Senate Minority Leader.   Apparently Champ is campaigning as the Ken Miller in this race, running to the right of Stapleton.  This is an effective strategy in Montana’s statewide races- to elect Democrats.  If Edmunds hasn’t noticed, there aren’t many Republicans holding elected state office in Montana outside of the legislature.

Edmunds’ “conservative across the board” rhetoric may rally the dwindling base of tea people, but moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats opposed to Max Baucus will likely be repelled.  I predict fundraising struggles in Champ’s future. Karl Rove won’t likely be throwing him cash.  From his Feb 8, 2013 letter:

You may have read that Karl Rove is trying to suppress grass roots conservatives in the next election cycle. But there’s good news! Here in Montana, we have a choice between a party establishment-backed candidate, and an authentic conservative.

While “authentic conservative” Edmunds isn’t likely to offer much competition to either six-term Democrat incumbent Max Baucus or to “party establishment-backed candidate” (what?) Corey Stapleton, his goofiness and tea-approved social views will surely add entertainment to the campaign.  A liberal blog already called him the “Craziest Candiate (so far) of the 2014 Election Cycle”.  Support from the embattled racist chairperson of the Yellowstone County GOP/Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Jennifer Olsen is likely.


The quaint notion of controlling one’s own life and death

nursing home handsOn Dec. 31, 2009, Montana’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that addressed the question of whether the state’s constitution guaranteed terminally ill patients a right to lethal prescription medication from their physicians.  The court stated that while the state’s Constitution did not guarantee a right to physician-assisted suicide, there was “nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy. Representative Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel)  hopes to change that with HB 505, a bill which “clarifies” the law and ensures that physicians who assist their terminally ill patients in dying with dignity are imprisoned and fined.  Although aid in dying isn’t expressly illegal in Montana, under the provisions of this legislation, anyone who actually assists in any manner with a terminally ill patient’s decision to end their life on their terms will be prosecuted   According to a Montana board member of the National Right To  Life, physicians who respect their patients’ autonomy, including their wish to end their suffering, will be charged with homicide.

Note: The “aid” component of physician aid-in-dying involves only the dispensing of the medication. the patient decides if and when to self-administer the medication.

Perhaps your religious beliefs  preclude you from ever choosing to end your own suffering.   That is entirely understandable, but surely you aren’t arrogant enough to think that your personal religious beliefs bestow upon you the power to decide for another, who holds different beliefs, whether his life is worth living?   Should those people be prohibited from dying with dignity purely because YOUR religious beliefs oppose such decisions? We aren’t talking about the unborn, who as some claim “cannot advocate for themselves”, nor are we talking about forcing anyone to end their own life.  We are talking about terminally ill, adult human beings of sound mind who desire the right to live and die on their own terms. How is prolonged suffering  a pro-life view?

Who do you trust with your important health decisions, your physician or your legislature?  Tell your legislators, especially members of the House Judiciary Committee not to interfere with doctor-patient relationships.   A peaceful and dignified exit is an option we should all have.  Recent polls indicate a majority of Americans support allowing physician aid-in-dying,  let’s kill this bill in committee before it embarrasses Montanans. Giving patients a choice benefits those who desire it while care of those who object to it is not affected in any way.  It seems the Montana GOP is using this legislative session to further indulge the cumbrous embrace of the big government nanny.

In related news, SB 220, a bill establishing procedures and regulations to Montanans’ end of life decisions was tabled last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee.