On Monday, the Montana House of Representatives salvaged a bill that will repeal the state’s anti-gay sodomy law, even though it had been tabled by the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Bryce Bennett (D), the state’s first openly gay male lawmaker, made an impassioned plea for making sure the bill to repeal the unconstitutional law received a full floor vote:
BENNETT: Under this law, I could be imprisoned for up to ten years for being part of a loving, caring relationship. I’ve said before though, I know this law is not constitutional. It’s not being enforced. I’m not worried about being arrested and taken to jail but I still feel the sting of this law still. Because words are very important and they matter. The fact that years later this language is still on the books means that our state still sees me as a criminal. The belief that I am a second-class citizen in a state I was born in and called home my entire life.
But several Republicans invoked the Bible to condemn homosexuality as immoral, claiming that sometimes “courts get it wrong.” Both the Montana Supreme Court (in 1997) and U.S. Supreme Court (in 2003) have ruled that laws banning consenting sexual behavior are unconstitutional, but they were unfazed. Rep. Krayton Kerns (R) implied that LGBT people lack a “moral character” while Rep. David Halvorson (R) explained that God “has not changed His mind” on condemning homosexuality. Rep. Amanda Curtis (D) spoke out on YouTube after the hearing about this testimony, confessing that while listening to Kerns, she was tempted to “walk across the floor and punch him.”
Nevertheless, the motion passed 60-38, so the Montana House will now give full consideration to the repeal bill. Still, that’s 38 votes already willing to maintain an unconstitutional law that criminalizes homosexuality.
Watch a video featuring the testimony by Bennett, Kerns, and Halvorson, as well as the vote on the motion: