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Montana to consider bill to repeal outdated law that criminalizes gay sex

Monday, January 21, 2013

HELENA, Mont. — LGBT advocates said Monday they hope the Montana state legislature will finally repeal an obsolete state law that criminalized gay sex before it was struck down by the courts in the 1990s.

The Montana Supreme Court in 1997 ruled as unconstitutional the portion of the “deviate sexual relations” law that includes “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex” in the same definition that also includes bestiality.

Sen. Tom Facey (D-Missoula), the bill’s sponsor, said the time has come to strike a law that is unenforceable and offensive.

Groups opposed to the law have tried for years to get the state legislature to formally strike language they argue is hurtful — two years ago, a similar proposal to repeal the law cleared the Senate, only to die in the more conservative House.

But since then, the Montana Republican Party has removed from its platform the position that it seeks to make homosexual acts illegal, although the party remains opposed to gay marriage.

Freshman state Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer (R-Superior), said he is co-sponsoring the measure because it “respects the rights of Montanans.”

Opposition was muted compared with arguments in past legislative sessions over the matter. Only two stood to oppose the bill.

Dallas Erickson, with Montana Citizens for Decency Through Law, argued that the courts got the decision wrong. He said his group opposes the gay “lifestyle” and argued that such an anti-sodomy law has been on the books since statehood because it reflects the values of the state’s residents.

More than a dozen advocates told the Judiciary Committee that it is time to remove the language.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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12 more reader comments:

  1. oh my god.
    This is very depressing.

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:38pm
  2. Why wasn’t this automatically overturned when the US Supreme Court ruled sodomy laws unconstitutional??

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:49pm
  3. Um, yay for progress? *slow clap for Montana*

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:49pm
  4. It’s time Montana!

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:15pm
  5. It will never happen. This is silly. America isn’t an Arab country who executes my gay brothers and sisters for being gay.

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:27pm
  6. now this is how GLTB will EVER be able to marry…state by state and one law at a time!

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:59pm
  7. Alan it has happened before and will happen again somewhere on the planet. never think it can’t happen here or to us.

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 9:20pm
  8. I thought Lawrence V. Texas did away with this shit back in 2003?

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:10pm
  9. - Yes, but when the bigoted/stupid laws still stay on the books at a state or local level it gives mental reinforcement to those who want them to be reinstated nationally on the basis of precedent/”tradition.” We don’t have much of a positive record when it comes to specifically updating regional policy or practice to match federal (or Constitutional) evolution – and though of course the same can be said in reverse, it’s more common to just leave outdated state/local laws in place without enforcing them than to repeal them in fact.

    Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:54pm
  10. About damned time.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:32am
  11. I hope so, if not I’ll be a criminal after I get there.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:14am
  12. Finally. <3 maria <3

    Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 5:27am