God, Homosexuality, and the Republican Party Platform Debated as Legislature Considers Senate Bill 107
On a 64-37 vote Today, April 5, the Montana house voted in favor of Senate Bill 107, but only after numerous speeches that covered everything from the will of God to the Republican Party's platform.
"This bill removes unconstitutional language from the deviant sexual conduct code," explained Missoula Rep. Bryce Bennet as he introduced the bill. "The language that labels gay and lesbian Montanans felons under the law, punishable by fines of up to $50,000 or up to ten years in prison."
After the bill's first House hearing on Monday, Democrat Rep. Amanda Curtis composed a video later posted to her Facebook page, in which she denounced those who voted against SB 107 as “offensive,” even going so far as to list all of the representatives with no votes as “haters (see vote list)."
"It was so hard to sit that and not walk across the floor and punch him," said Curtis in the video, responding to statements by Rep. Krayton Kerns about the moral character of gay and lesbians.
Those who voted against the bill argued that it would lead to the promotion of homosexuality or that it would make it harder to prosecute child molesters. Representative Jerry O'neil was concerned with the bills effect on public education.
"If we pass this bill and make it a legal process, a legal . . . whatever, then if some second grade teacher wants to take her lover to the class and introduce the lover to the kids, there's nothing . . . I don't think there's anything the school board can do to stop that," O'neil said.
Republicans were split, with some testifying for the bill and some against. "Vote yes on the bill," argued Missoula Republican David Moore. "It's the common sense thing to do."
The language describing gay and lesbian acts as deviant sexual conduct was ruled unconstitutional in 1997. Since then it has not been used in Montana prosecution.