House overwhemingly votes to repeal Montana's gay sex law

2013-04-10T00:15:00Z House overwhemingly votes to repeal Montana's gay sex lawBy Mike Dennison of The Standard State Bureau Montana Standard

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 only 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.

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.”

Both 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.”

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. Drifter
    Report Abuse
    Drifter - April 10, 2013 5:42 pm
    Well, Montana will finally join the 21st century it appears.

    "There was a gasp of shock when Rep. Hagstrom said that sex that didn't produce people was deviant. Many who spoke in oposition of the bill used religion, and scripture to attempt to explain their lousy understanding of Christian love"

    It is sad there are people in the legislature like Hagstrom, and even sadder that their are people who actually voted him into office. Voters really should turn over a few more rocks before their selection like these.
  2. GetItStraight
    Report Abuse
    GetItStraight - April 10, 2013 2:22 pm
    I think it is important to realize that Rep. Dave Hagstrom's, R-Billings has clearly labeled every single voter in his constituency as well as everyone in the state of Montana as deviant sex perverts by stating, "Sex that doesn’t produce people is deviant." I certainly hope that his constituents either agree with his position that they/we are all deviant perverts or disagree and start up a petition to have him removed from office immediately. I can't imagine that a majority of his voters agree with his assessment of them or of the citizens of Montana. I certainly don't agree with his views.
  3. hpesoj
    Report Abuse
    hpesoj - April 10, 2013 12:12 pm
    I was in the gallery of the House of Representatives yesterday for this important vote. There was a gasp of shock when Rep. Hagstrom said that sex that didn't produce people was deviant. Many who spoke in oposition of the bill used religion, and scripture to attempt to explain their lousy understanding of Christian love. My strong feeling as these people spoke is that they were speaking from fear and asigning to LGBT people the worst stereotypes and notions that exist about them. These comments made out of fear were painful to listen to. The legislators who spoke from their hearts, or from a rational assesment of their own experience like Rep. Duane Ankney of Colstrip made the most compelling arguments to finally after all these years remove these embarassing words from Montana law. I often walk out of the House or Senate galleries shaking my head at the partisanship, the bickering, and the crazy statements that are sometimes made, but this time, despite the cruel and heartless words of some, I walked out thankful that the House had followed the Senate and will send a bill to the Governor that places so many Montanan's so much closer to equal footing among their peers.
  4. frustrated
    Report Abuse
    frustrated - April 10, 2013 10:30 am
    Mr. Dave Hagstrom, I am past menopause, so I am guessing I should not be married either, I can't have children, so this must be a deviant relationship as well?? I am appauld. This doesn't even make sense to me your way of thinking.
  5. Diggin406
    Report Abuse
    Diggin406 - April 10, 2013 8:46 am
    This is the same Dave Hagstrom who runs housing for low-income, ex-prisoners, etc....and he sent all of his tenants this very bizarre/disturbing letter last week:

    http://mtstreetfighter.com/republican-mocks-single-mothers-and-tells-his-tenants-to-die-asap/

    He is also one of three legislators to vote against assisting veterans who are returning home with affordable housing....and he works for the Affordable Housing Development in Billings?!? Vote these clowns out now!

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