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?

 

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Corporate and Cannabis Socialism, Montana Republicans Sell Out


Montana’s Republican-led 2011 legislature has taken its assault on liberty to the legislative finish line after approving legislation giving corporations unprecedented power via eminent domain as well as passing bills responsible for decreased patient access and the  inevitable destruction of the medical cannabis industry.

Common sense Republicans, like those of us at montanafesto, have been critical of the legislature since the session began.  A Republican friend working in Helena during the session said “it is frightening that the only ones making any sense in Helena are Democrats”.  Numerous posts via social media outlets summarize the session accurately but the only ones supportive of the Republicans  are typically from the Montana GOP itself or one of its pathetic party loyalists, and even those posts are all but disappearing.    A recent tweet by a Democrat operative said “you know when Rep Ellie Hill and Montanafesto are agreeing on issues, this session has gone off the rails.”  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to have an admin of Left in the West promoting anything (here and here) written by any of our bloggers let alone myself.

The outrage is not limited to Montana bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers, however.  Even the Republican Liberty Caucus is disgusted with Montana’s legislature.  In a post entitled “Montana Republicans Sell out for Big Government“, the author writes about the Montana GOP:

they are not committed to common sense government at all, but are instead beholden to special interests, corporate socialism, and the nanny state.

Most of the GOP legislators who supported the nanny state-style measures were TEA party-supported.  The TEA party, whose power and size appears to be diminished, likely in part due to this sort of  hypocrisy, should be up in arms about Montana’s Republican legislators, but I haven’t heard a peep from them. In all fairness, that could be in part due to the fact that local leaders blocked me on Facebook after I began questioning their motives and practices.  I believe that  inconsistencies between the TEA party’s stated positions and actions of its leaders are contributing to the decline and ultimate demise of the TEA party.  The defense of liberty will continue, with or without the TEA party.

According to LibertarianRepublican.net

 “Sounding like something straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, a renewable energy corporation out of Canada is pushing legislation to allow for seizure of private property rights in Eastern Montana. The Bill pits small landowners such as ranchers in Eastern Montana, against government-backed corporate interests and many environmental groups in support of renewable energy.”

One exception, Rep. Mike Miller, who was noted with Rep Jerry O’Neill as opposing the big government measures, said via Facebook:

I am surprised by some of the “liberty loving” reps. that voted to repeal and that let their personal anti-drug feelings override their principles for less government and a persons right to control his own body.

A blogger at 4 and 20 Blackbirds, early in the session summarized Montana’s GOP hypocrisy accurately:

The Montana GOP loves them some freedom, but only when its smothered in their own special GOP brand of Freedom Sauce. While they push issues such as setting up local militias, givingsheriffs ultimate local law enforcement authority, giving healthcare providers freedom to deny services to patients because of differing morals, and expanding individual gun rights including no longer needing a permit to carry a concealed weapon; on many other issues currently up for debate in Helena the GOP is proving that they want to curtail local decision-making and even the role that individual citizens play in politics and policy making.

Perhaps the biggest GOP attack on individual freedoms in Montana is the GOP’s push to override voter initiates and weaken the voter initiative process in the future. If Montana voters had passed initiatives banning abortion or abolishing the state’s DEQ I’m sure conservatives would be praising the Montana citizenry’s grounded and well thought out votes.

If nothing else, I’ve grown through this session- not only into a very disgruntled Republican, but also as a blogger and a person. If LITW and even Montana Cowgirl can be in agreement, even if only occasionally, with those of us at montanafesto, there is hope for our state.  I look forward to a day where Rep Ken Peterson-style statements are condemned not only by Democrats or even Peterson’s own Republican Party, but by everyone- as Montanans and as human beings.


Highlights From Lowlifes: Montana’s 62nd Legislature


This legislative session it seems Montana is ALWAYS in the news.  We’ve made “The Colbert Report”, “Anderson Cooper 360”, Huffington Post, New York Times, CNN, and according to Speaker Milburn, he was interviewed by the Swedish World Federation Against Drugs on a radio show.  We have yet to confirm this interview’s existence with anyone other than Speaker Milburn, but he assures us that it exists, and naturally, we believe him.  After all, he is the one who informed us that Montana is now known as a “source country, just like Columbia” because of our massive marijuana exports.  Although the session isn’t quite over, as leadership needed a vacation, here are a few highlights from Montana’s 62nd Legislative session.

  1. ‎”I’m going to ask that we take a minute here and reflect upon our own hypocrisy.” Rep. Rob Cook R-Conrad. INDEED.
  2. “If Jesus Christ himself were here today he would be an opponent of this bill,” Harris Himes speaking against a bill to abolish the death penalty.  Yes, Rev. Himes, if you were in the chair, he may indeed approve.
  3. “It’s poison, a kind of poison, it’s kind of like taking arsenic with Valium in it – it will make you feel good until it kills you. That’s the truth.” Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) speaking about medical marijuana.  And we all know marijuana kills…. how many people annually?  That’s right Rep. Howard, ZERO.
  4. “It is God himself who said homosexuality is an abomination and he has various punishments for it….. they will surely be put to death”.  Rev. Harris Hines in testimony supporting discrimination of gays. Again, that death thing.
  5. “The most important reason to repealing medical marijuana is  that marijuana and its usage is offensive to God”  Rev. Harris Himes.  Himes may want to check out Genesis 1:29
  6. “He (Dr. Carlton Turner)  told us he’d take almost any of the other drugs- crank, heroin, methamphetamines under clinical  conditions- but he wouldn’t take marijuana.  Every time they’d done a human test on it, it scared him half to death.”— Rep David Howard admits FEAR motivates him to lie?
  7. I’ll never have my brother back,  we need to save others people’s brothers.— Rep James Knox, fighting tears as he pimped his brother for marijuana repeal while inadvertently advocating nanny state government.
  8. My birth mom told me had abortion been legal, I wouldn’t have been calling her.”  Rep James Knox testifying on house floor on an abortion bill, making a great case for post natal abortion.
  9. Open Cow, Open Woman, Rep Regier compares women to cows.  This one defies all explanation.
  10. There’s new ways to kill you know, in prisons, they take little pieces of paper.  They take their blood, their saliva and do blow darts on the guards, there are new and unique ways to kill.” —Rep Janna Taylor.  I’m not sure what Taylor is getting at here.
  11. “I also voted no on this bill, the body should know that the people who run ponzi schemes, they don’t have any money of their own…. I couldn’t imagine standing in front of my constituents in Park City, where none of them make more than $35,000/yr to say we’re gonna come up with a scheme to get back up to 25,000 of what people have lost investing…….”  –Rep. Dave Howard who thinks his constituency is poor.
  12. Two wrongs don’t make a right– Sen. Verdell Jackson referring to victims of rape and incest.  While I’m not a fan of abortion, I wonder if Sen. Jackson would feel differently if he had been raped.
  13. ‎”The only way I’d be supportive of that (Dept. of Ag regulating medical marijuana) is if they treated marijuana as a noxious weed.” –Sen. John Brenden (R-Scobey). I grew up in this senate district and I can tell you, nobody up there gives a damn about medical marijuana.  Brenden is a bit noxious himself.
  14. “Across the street from the church was a bevy of good-looking young ladies going in and out of this place……they were growing marijuana across the street…. I didn’t know such good-looking women were interested in horticultural prospects”– Rev. Harris Himes. Where do we find these guys? Himes is made for mockery!
  15. “I got a medical marijuana business who moved in next door to me and it’s been craziness ever since. You see ’em them behind their shop, behind the commercial building, they got their arms outstretched, they’re trying to fly. I find people sleeping in my vehicles in front of my business. A month and a half ago they buried a van.”– Austin Kaufman, Billings.
  16. Rep Ken Peterson: If women would make better choices they wouldn’t get cervical and breast cancer. So defund family planning already.
  17. If you act gay in public, Rep Ken Peterson wants your felon ass in jail for a decade.  Ten years in prison will teach you how to be straight, right?
  18. Steve Zabawa in SB 423 hearing: “Marijuana is illegal! The state of Montana is gonna get arrested!” Zabawa is no stranger to illegal activity, he does sell cars for a living.  He also hires most of his employees from the Alpha House, a halfway house for men returning to society after being imprisoned for major crimes. Several of his current sales and management staff are felons, actually.  A couple of them defrauded the federal government by filing false FEMA claims after Hurricane Katrina. After serving time, Zabawa hired them back!
  19. Sen. Ed Walker saying, “I don’t believe it can be reformed. It needs to be repealed. There are times the voters get it wrong, and that is what happened in 2004.”  I wonder if we may have also got it wrong in 201o when you were elected, Ed.  Just sayin’.
  20. Montana is now considered a “source country”, same as Columbia.“- Speaker Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) I wonder why anyone would bury a van filled with  marijuana if that is the case.  So many questions.
  21. “Sometimes the most compassionate answer you can give is no you don’t need this,” Senator Rowlie Hutton (R-Havre) said.  “When you love someone you are willing to do an intervention. I love this state, and it’s time we do an intervention,” concluded Hutton, who wants to take away medicine from the ill. Compassionate indeed.
  22. “The people who use medical marijuana for legitimate uses, they’ve been had. I think they probably feel like the dog who gets in the car and as they’re driving they realize they are going to the vet instead of the park. They got in with the wrong crowd,” testified Sen. Edward Walker (R-Billings).  The wrong crowd, Sen. Walker, spends time with you and your buddies at that creepy temple under the rims.
  23. Tough DUI laws “are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years,” said Rep. Hale.  But medical cannabis is WAY too dangerous.
  24. “Homosexuals can’t go out into the heterosexual community and try to recruit people, or try to enlist them in homosexual acts,” Peterson says. He provides an example: “‘Here, young man, your hormones are raging. Let’s go in this bedroom, and we’ll engage in some homosexual acts. You’ll find you like it.’” Peterson hasn’t actually seen this happen, he says, because “I don’t associate with that group of people at all… I’ve associated with mainstream people all my life.” Again, those mainstream people hang out at the LDS temple in west Billings.
  25. And then we have this beauty.  You be the judge.
Special thanks to Hiedi Handford of Montana Connect Magazine for editing and uploading the 300+ testimony videos.  Other legislative testimony can be viewed on her YouTube channel here

Real Montana Scourge: Medical Marijuana or ‘Moral’ Majority


You may recall from last month, Montana’s 2011 Legislature earned failing grades in a Billings Gazette poll in which Montana voters were asked to judge the performance of the legislative body, led by Montana Republicans. In fact, only 24% gave the legislature a positive rating.  Judging from recent events, I’m left to wonder if perhaps they are striving for a new low.

The Republicans, by ignoring constituents and engaging in the sort of behavior conservatives  typically would associate with Nancy Pelosi have alienated even the most loyal supporters this session.   Our legislature is truly out of hand, as evidenced by my frequent anti-hypocrisy posts.  There is something very wrong when I cannot find even one liberal who is more deserving of criticism than those in the leadership of my own party. The Republicans, with a few exceptions; are downright obsessed with meddling in the private affairs of Montanans. Don’t forget about the the national coverage our state has received for frivolous legislation and unbelievable comments made by our GOP legislators…. this situation is unreal.  I am personally embarrassed.

* Below is a clip of Representative Ellie Hill of Missoula boldly defending the medical cannabis industry and patients prior to Representative Dave Howard of Park City, with contempt in his voice, referring to marijuana as a poison and of course, a “scourge”.  Conveniently, Howard also manages to casually blame the Governor Brian Schweitzer for the legislature’s refusal inability to pass thoughtful legislation regulating the medical cannabis industry- because the governor hasn’t “told ANYBODY what he plans to do” with HB 161.

*Representative Ken Peterson of Billings publicly stated that although the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the Montana Supreme Court has ruled a Montana law criminalizing homosexuals to be unconstitutional, he believes there are at least two violations of the law he would consider enforceable. The first of those criminal acts is the “recruitment” of non-gays by gays. I never realized when hanging out with our homosexual friends we were in so much danger. Thanks for letting me know, Rep. Peterson! He also believes that the Supreme Court decisions apply only to homosexual acts behind closed doors, so any public display of homosexuality would be fair game for potential enforcement by the MONTaliban officers.  Read all about Rep. Peterson’s raging homophobia here.

Reverend Harris Himes has been making the rounds- from testifying on behalf of Montana Eagle Forum, his congregation (yes, he is a pastor) and God.  He lectured committee members about repealing the medical use of marijuana and in favor of discrimination of gays, at one point even declaring that homosexuals should be put to death.  Himes finally explains exactly WHY the use and cultivation of marijuana should be prohibited here.  His proximity to God lends credibility and relevance to the pastor’s testimony.

The bigoted legislators and self-righteous individuals mentioned above do not represent the Montana in which I have spent my entire life and if they are considered moral creatures, I’m content being lumped in with the “scourge”.

Montana’s GOP God Squad legislating your morality, quantifying your pain, & protecting you from yourself


Take a moment today to thank the house members listed in bold below.  Why you ask? Thank them for ignoring the will of the people and voting to advance the repeal of a law passed by 62% of Montanans.

Thank you, representatives, for being so lazy.  You refused to produce any bills that created jobs but were instead focused on eradicating an entire industry that provides THOUSANDS of jobs for Montanans in addition to producing legislation on a host of other social issues.  I urge Montanans to flood these traitors and the remaining  house members with emails, calls and visits to inform them that you don’t approve of this sort of betrayal of our populace.  You elected them to fix our economy and create jobs…. and what did they do?  Not a damned thing.

Gone are the days that I defend the legislature.  When the liberals are bitching about hypocritical lawmakers seeking to repeal Obamacare while accepting taxpayer-funded health insurance, I will be right on board.  I will never give another penny to the Montana Republican party and I will never spend another moments assisting with anyone running for election.

On the flip side, the democrats in this committee are for the first time in my good graces.  There is a special place in hell for those who lack compassion for people suffering from debilitating illnesses and that has nothing to do with political party affiliation. May God have mercy on your souls.
 

David Howard Chair*
Cary Smith Vice Chair* Hubby of Susan Smith of Safe Community Safe Kids infamy
Michael (Mike) More Member*
Pat Ingraham Member*
Dan Skattum Member*
Liz Bangerter Member*
Steve Fitzpatrick Member*
Dan Kennedy Member*
Joe Read Member*
Max Yates Member*
Timothy Furey Voted NO….
Pat Noonan Voted NO
Chuck Hunter Voted NO
Ellie Boldman Hill Voted NO
Carolyn Pease-Lopez Voted NO

 

Montana Lawmakers Weeding Out Poor Legislation


One of the most ridiculous bills of the 2011 Montana legislative session was rejected in committee this morning amid concerns about quantifying impairment.  Members of the judiciary committee across the political spectrum (including Rep Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and Rep Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) opposed  Ken Peterson‘s HB33, which sought to criminalize driving  with ANY level of any detectable drug or drug metabolite.  HB33 was nothing more than a back-door attempt to block the use of medical marijuana in Montana.  A vocal proponent of repealing the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, Peterson, in sponsoring the legislation, initially may appeared well-intentioned.  However,  a provision making exceptions for legally prescribed drugs is evidence that this bill had less to do with public safety and more with control.  Shame on Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings) for his blatant attempt to force Montanans to comply with his idea of morality.

Medical marijuana in Montana isn’t prescribed by a physician because federally, cannabis is still a schedule I illegal substance.  Physicians in Montana recommend marijuana to patients they believe could benefit from use of the substance but this recommendation (as opposed to a prescription) would essentially prohibit legal medical marijuana users from driving at all.  Metabolites can be detected in some people more than a month after using marijuana.   The abuse and misuse of prescription drugs is reaching epidemic proportions in Montana- in teens and adults- and for some strange reason, Ken Peterson would prefer to have Oxycontin addicts behind the wheel than those using medical marijuana.

Obviously, nobody should drive while impaired as a result of any substance or condition (fatigue, for instance) but the mere presence of marijuana metabolites is not at all indicative of impairment.  Can you imagine the enforcement and legal nightmares this sort of law would create?  Essentially, eating a poppy seed muffin would be cause for arrest. Ken Peterson’s bills this session have led some to question his intelligence.

Ken Peterson wants to force his morality upon you

Montana voted Republican in November not because they approve of the GOP, but because they disapprove of them less than the Democrat party.  Sadly, many of the GOP legislators are spending political capital they have yet to earn which could ensure disappointments in 2012 elections.  Regardless of personal opinions on social issues, concerns about the economy and a looming budget shortfall should take precedence. Voters will certainly not appreciate  legislation motivated by the personal religious agendas of a few lawmakers.