Bill to Take Montanas Unconstitutional Sodomy Law Off The Books Fails in 50-50 House
House Defeats End to Ban on Gay Sex
February 14, 1999
Box 36300,Billings, MT 59107
HELENA (AP) A bill to erase Montanas unconstitutional law
against homosexual sex failed on a tie vote Saturday in the House.
Representatives voted 50-50, killing the bill that would have removed the law
overturned by the Montana Supreme Court in 1997. The sponsor of House Bill 449, Rep. Joan
Hurdle, R-Billings, said she probably will ask to have the measure reconsidered Monday.
Hurdle told representatives they should pass the bill to rid the Montana Code of the
law, now that it has been struck down by the Supreme Court. The court said the law against
sex acts between consenting adults of the same gender violated the constitutional right to
"The Supreme Court didnt say we had to take this law off the books,"
Rep. Bob Clark, R-Ryegate, said in urging defeat of Hurdles bill. "They merely
said it was unconstitutional." There is no harm in leaving the law in place, Clark
Rep. Jim Shockley, R-Victor, spoke in favor of the bill but emphasized he is not an
advocate of gay rights. Shockley said he supports privacy and opposes unnecessary
Only a brief debate preceded the House vote.
Later Saturday, representatives defeated Hurdles effort to resurrect her bill. As
the House ended its work for the day, she was examining the 50-50 roll call vote that
killed the measure and was considering options for Monday.
The case decided by the Supreme Court was filed after earlier efforts to remove the law
against gay sex failed in the Legislature.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Hurdles bill this month, opponents said
passage would be a stand against families. Supporters said there is no reason to keep an
unconstitutional, unenforceable law, regardless of beliefs about homosexuality.
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