2013 MT Legislature

Apr 9, 2013 8:35 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Bill decriminalizing homosexuality clears key House vote

On Tuesday, Montana's LGBT community saw a major victory on the House floor as lawmakers passed a bill which decriminalizes homosexuality.

Senate Bill 107 strikes language from Montana law which makes it illegal to have homosexual sex. In a 64 to 36 vote some Republicans joined Democrats in voting to take the language out of Montana code.

Representative Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip) told the chamber that his daughter is a lesbian and she has a right to live her life in the way she chooses.

"To say she is any less of a person or she is a criminal for her lifestyle really upsets me," Ankney said choking back tears.

Civil rights activists have been lobbying the Montana Legislature for years trying to get the language pulled from statute, but Republicans have blocked past attempts. The only members to vote against the bill this session were Republicans who cited their religious beliefs saying homosexuality is a sin.

Representative Jerry Bennett (R-Libby) told the House he pledged his life to his wife and to God and supporting the bill would violate those pledges.

"It is the thief, the devil, that comes to steal our life, to kill us, to rob us. Christ said I come so that you might have life to the fullest," Bennett said. "That's my desire for everyone here."

Representative Dave Hagstrom (R-Billings) says homosexual sex is deviate.

"To me sex is primarily purposed to produce people," Hagstrom explained. "Sex that doesn't produce people is deviate. That doesn't mean it's a problem, it just means it's not doing its primary purpose."

Many Republicans disagree on this issue. Ankney says the legislation is about rights and knowing that God loves everyone.

"I know the power of prayer and the power of God, and I don't think God thinks any less of my daughter than he does of anyone of you in here," Ankney said to his fellow Representatives.

The bill must pass one more vote in the House and then heads to Governor Steve Bullock's desk for signature.

Click the video to watch Rep. Ankney's testimony on the floor.

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