HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Senate is backing a measure to strike an obsolete state law that criminalizes gay sex.

Senate Bill 107 repeals an anti-gay law the courts ruled unconstitutional in 1997.

Democrats argued Tuesday it is time to remove the hurtful language from the statutes, even if it is not enforceable.

The Senate backed the plan 38-10 in an initial vote.

A similar measure cleared the Senate in 2011 only to die in the House. Democrats who have picked up a few seats in that chamber hope this year will be different.

The Republican Party has also softened their stance on the issue.

Another gay-rights measure heard Tuesday in a House committee likely faces a tougher road. House Bill 481 would extend anti-discrimination protections to sexual orientation and gender identity.

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