Montana Legislature

Feb 19, 2013 11:47 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

Sexual discrimination debated in Montana Legislature

HELENA - State Senator Christine Kaufmann (D-Helena) says the state's "deviate sexual conduct" laws are antiquated, unconstitutional, and do not reflect Montana values.

It's currently a crime to engage in homosexual sex in Montana, and Senate Bill 107 would strike that language from Montana code.

"It says I deserve to be in prison for 10 years for making a family with the woman that I love. It holds me in the same regard as people who rape animals. It tells me every day that I am second-class and that I am not wanted in my home," Kaufmann said of the existing law..

"I don't know any reason that they are there, other than to continue to remind me and people like me that we are despised," she added

No one spoke against the bill, but 10 senators, all Republicans, voted against it.

A similar bill passed the Senate but never made it out of the House Judiciary committee during the 2011 legislative session.

Earlier in the day the committee heard testimony about how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals face discrimination every day.

House Bill 481 adds "sexual orientation and gender identity" into the Montana Human Rights Act, making it illegal to discriminate against anyone for being gay.

Lyle Hamilton, a retired United Methodist minister, said, "We must be free to love whom we love."

Opponents fear this legislation would open up bathrooms to any gender.

"If a business, a government, a youth organization, a school or a church in Montana wants to keep people with penises out of restrooms, showers, and locker rooms reserved for people with vaginas, that would be discrimination," Dallas Erickson of Montana Citizens for Decency through Law said.

Missoula and Helena, already protect the LGBT community from discrimination.

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