As early as yesterday, the following phrasing was included in the Montana State Laws:
"Sexual abuse" means the commission of sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, deviate sexual conduct, sexual abuse, ritual abuse of a minor, or incest... "Earlier today, Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) signed Senate Bill 107 into law, officially striking the outrageous bold text from Montana Law.
"Deviate sexual relations" means sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex or any form of sexual intercourse with an animal."
Learn more about the story of this bills considerable adventures beneath the orange heart with frills.
The language being struck from the books is some of the oldest in Montana's legal history. The punishment for breaking these laws is a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 10 years in prison. Until today, on the books in Montana it was a felony to be gay. It was only in 1997 that the Montana Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, and for the next 16 years human rights groups have been rightfully trying to remove the offending language. We came close two years ago, when a similar bill passed the Senate only to die in the Republican controlled house.
It wasn't until just over a year ago that the Montana Republican Party removed from its platform the fact that it wishes to make homosexual acts illegal.
Senator Tom Facey's Senate Bill 107 passed both House and Senate by a wide margin this year, though a considerable number of Republicans still voted against it. Worth mentioning are Freshman Republican Senator Nicholas Schwaderer, who co-sponsored the bill, and Republican Duane Ankney (who represents my home county, and has for some time, despite my best volunteerism efforts) who spoke passionately in favor of the bill, spurred perhaps by his daughter, a lesbian. He urged the people of Montana to remember that we are "all equal under God's eye" and to strike down the text, calling the law an embarrassment to the good people of Montana.
I recognize these individuals because they were willing to be different from their Republican comrades. They were willing to stick their neck out in support of something that doesn't necessarily have the full support of their party. They were willing to do what is right, rather than what they are expected to do. Will I vote against Duane Ankney the next time he runs for office? Absolutely. The man is a Republican, and a fairly right-wing one. But will I do it with slightly more respect for the man? Yes, yes I will. Even if it took his own daughter being the one discriminated against for him to get it, the man still managed to see the light.
I end this with a quote from Senator Tom Facey, and what has become the mantra of this bill: "Words do matter." It makes no difference that this law stopped being enforced well before 1997, nor that post-1997 it was unconstitutional. The fact that the Republican Party stood firm for sixteen years desperately fighting efforts to remove this horrifying language and sentiment from Montana Law is truly disgusting.