Last edited: December 20, 2004

State Moves to Require Life-Time Registry for Certain Criminals and Targets Gays and Lesbians

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, March 22, 1995
Contact: Robin Kane (202) 332-6483 ext. 3311
2320 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

Issue: The Montana State Senate will likely vote tomorrow to require offenders of the state’s sodomy law to register for life with local law enforcement officials. According to a provision in House Bill 214, those convicted of homosexual acts between consenting adults would be included with murders, rapists and other violent criminals in Montana’s pending law to register violent criminals.

Efforts in the state House and Senate failed to remove sodomy from the list of crimes requiring state registration. HB 214, which cites sodomy, murder, rape, aggravated assault, incest, sexual assault, and indecent exposure, passed the state House and will face a final vote in the Senate on Thursday.

Anti-gay rhetoric rang out during senate deliberations. Sen. Al Bishop (R-Billings) said he found homosexuality to be worse than some violent crimes. "This type of action," Bishop said, "is even worse than a violent sexual act."

"Senator Bishop’s comments are appalling and must be denounced by all Montanans, gay and straight, for its offensiveness to survivors of violent sexual crimes." said Robin Kane, spokesperson for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).

Sandra Hale, Executive Director of Pride!, a Montana gay, lesbian, and bisexual public policy group called the bill offensive.

"What an insult to women who have been raped, children who have been molested, and any victim of a truly violent crime - let alone, lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who are in loving committed relationships and make up the backbone on our Montana community," Hale said.

Some lawmakers downplayed the implications of the legislation, noting that no Montanans have ever been prosecuted for sodomy. Activists were quick to shoot down this reasoning.

"This bill is a frightening example of the insidious dangers of sodomy laws," said Kane. "Sodomy laws, even when not fully enforced, classify all gay men and lesbians as criminals and are used as weapons in public debate. Our criminal status under these laws is cited as justification for policies that deny us our rights and dignity."

Currently 22 states have laws barring sodomy. 6 states, including Montana, bar only homosexual sodomy.

Local contact: Sandy Hale, Pride! Executive Director, (406) 442-9322.
NGLTF contact: Robin Kane, NGLTF Public Information Director, (202) 332-6483.

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