The Progressive Stronghold of Montana

Montana House endorses measure to decriminalize gay sex

After a half-hour of emotional debate 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.

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.

Maybe it was the long-awaited collective realization on the part of Republicans that the rallying cry of “small government” and “personal freedom” should apply equally to the bedroom as well as other issues like concealed handguns and children learning where babies come from.  Maybe it was just an acknowledgment of the times.

Or, more likely, maybe it was the fact that the law criminalizing homosexual sex and putting it in the same category as bestiality was ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court back in 1997.  It’s literally taken sixteen years for Republicans to get up off their collective asses and stop blocking repeated measures to repeal it, even though prosecutors haven’t been enforcing it for years.

That said, it’s encouraging to see Republicans finally get on board in significant numbers, even if it is because some of them have realized it affects them or someone they love.

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

Republican Rep. Duane Ankeny (that seriously looks like Gabby Giffords in the back.)  Photo from AP.

“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.”

Way to go, Portman Effect!

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