Lawmaker Wants Removal of Gay Sex Law
Gazette, January 29, 2003
Box 36300, Billings, MT 59107
By Allison Farrell, Gazette State Bureau
HELENA—Rep. Tom Facey, D-Missoula, is asking his
fellow lawmakers to honor the oath they took on the first day of the 2003
session to uphold the Montana Constitution. He’s asking them on that basis
to remove from the state’s code the statute that criminalizes consensual gay
The Montana Supreme Court in 1997 overturned the state’s sodomy law based
on the state’s constitutional right to privacy, but Montana has not removed
the statute from its books. No one in the state apparently has ever been
prosecuted under the law, lawmakers said.
"House Bill 294 asks legislators to respect the rights of all
Montanans," Facey said at the hearing Tuesday of the House Judiciary
Facey said he’s not asking legislators to approve of gay and lesbian
lifestyles but to confirm the privacy rights of all state residents.
"This bill is simple," said Karl Olson, director of PRIDE in
Helena, a gay rights organization. "This bill is about walking the talk.
It’s about the constitution."
Jan Donaldson of Helena asked lawmakers to obey their state’s highest
court. Linda Gryczan of Helena told the legislators that same-sex couples live
in nearly every county in Montana.
"They are your constituents," she said.
Others oppose removing Montana’s sodomy law in accordance with the 1997
Supreme Court ruling.
Churches across Montana "agree homosexuality must remain a crime in
this state," said Harris Himes, pastor at the Big Sky Christian Center in
Hamilton. "The legislators are applauded for standing up for their
Julie Millam, director of the Montana Family Coalition, said she believes
the Supreme Court ruling was made in error and "will be overturned for
Opponents of the bill said the "deviant" behaviors of gay and
lesbian people undermine "traditional family values."
"I think it’s a sad thing that we have become insensitive to what
God wants for this country," Himes said.
Donaldson, who spoke in favor of the law, said she doesn’t know what kind
of Christian God the opponents are talking about.
"I find it offensive that they feel they can speak for the Christian
community," Donaldson said after the hearing. "This is not the
Christianity I know."
The committee took no action on the bill.
[Home] [News] [Montana]