The head of a Montana Tea Party group has been ousted from the organization following a controversial exchange on his Facebook page that appeared to condone violence against gays.
The Big Sky Tea Party Association’s board of directors voted Sunday to remove Tim Ravndal as president of the Helena, MT chapter after it learned of a volatile post on the online social networking site. [Helena Independent Record]
The newspaper documented this exchange, which has since been removed from Ravndal’s page:
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Tim Ravndal: “Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the constitution and my own rights”
Keith Baker: “How dare you exercise your First Amendment Rights?”
Dennis Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”
Tim Ravndal: “@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this aint America no more! @Dennis, Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”
Dennis Scranton: “Should be able to get info Gazette archives. Maybe even an illustration. Go back a bit over ten years.”
The comments between Ravndal and Scranton appear to reference the 1998 gruesome slaying of 21-year-old University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten, tied to a fence post and left for dead. Witnesses testified during the trial that Shepard was targeted because he was gay.
Ravndal made the comment July 23 on his Facebook page in regard to a Billings Gazette article about an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over rights for same-sex couples.
On his Facebook page Friday, Ravndal issued this apology: “I made a mistake and commented on a post that implied that I condone violence against another human being. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”