Montana

Montana governor Steve Bullock to sign bill decriminalizing gay sex

Steve Bullock Staff and Wire Reports

HELENA, Mont. — Gov. Steve Bullock will sign into law a bill that decriminalizes gay sex 16 years after the Montana Supreme Court ruled the law criminalizing gay sex unconstitutional, and ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws nationwide.

Steve Bullock

The bill’s passage through both chambers received an emotional response from gay rights activists, who have struggled to remove the obsolete law that criminalizes gay sex for 20 years.

But legislators resisted removing the obsolete language until now, as gay and lesbian advocates protested its continued presence was a reminder they were once considered felons.

The bill received the Senate’s endorsement earlier in the session with little fanfare, but was stuck in a GOP-controlled House committee until Democrat Bryce Bennett of Missoula led the effort to put the measure to a vote in the House.

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Jamee Greer, a human rights activist and a lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network, said Republican legislators are coming around to recognizing that gays and lesbians deserve to be treated as equals.

“The fact is language matters, and those words matter. It’s a relief to know this is moving forward,” Greer said.

The measure received bi-partisan support from representatives, passing its final hurdle in 65-34 vote a few weeks ago.

Bullock plans to sign Senate Bill 107 shortly after noon Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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