Martz Tells Lesbians, Gays She Wont Fight Their Fight
Gazette, June 16, 2001
Box 36300, Billings, MT 59107
The Associated Press
HELENA Gov. Judy Martz told a gay-lesbian
advocacy group Friday that she is a born-again Christian, but that does not
mean she is part of the radical right.
In her first meeting with the group PRIDE since she took office in January,
Martz was vague about her views on homosexuality, telling members "we
will talk some day about my realization of some of the issues that you deal
"You are people, and I will treat you with respect as you treat me
with respect," Martz told the PRIDE representatives. But she said it
would be unfair for them to "ask me to do something that goes against my
Martz did not agree to support PRIDE on specific issues, saying she wants
to make Montana a better place for all people, regardless of their style of
The group said Montanas elected leaders have not been out in front on
issues important to gays and lesbians, a problem Martz should work to change
so an atmosphere of tolerance is fostered.
Executive Director Karl Olson and others also said Martz should press
fellow Republicans to rid their partys platform of language declaring the
state GOP supports "the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by
legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal."
"Is it my duty to tell everyone in the Republican Party to take that
out? I dont think so," Martz responded.
For a number of years, PRIDE has pushed to abolish Montanas law that
prohibits homosexual sex. The Montana Supreme Court found the law invalid, but
the Republican-controlled Legislature refuses to take it off the books.
Martz said laws are made by the Legislature, not in her office, and
arguments for and against statutes should be taken to legislators.
PRIDE commended her for canceling an appearance last month on a Kalispell
radio show whose host ridiculed a Holocaust survivor, assailed homosexuals and
jokingly suggested that listeners telephone bomb threats to the governors
office. But program host John Stokes had been denigrating various segments of
society for months, and Martz did not react until her office was named in the
offensive talk, Olson said.
Martz said her decision came after she read transcripts from the program,
and did not result from staff advice or public pressure.
"I made that decision in my heart," she said.
Martz said that as Montanas first female governor, she faces some
groundbreaking as do gay-lesbian activists, a comparison the PRIDE
representatives liked. Being the first woman in the job of state chief
executive will help Martz "look outside the box" in considering the
lives of gays and lesbians, said Rick Wagner of Butte.
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