The Unabomber. The Montana Militia. The Freemen standoff. Hardin prison nut jobs. Hank Williams, Jr. It seems every couple of years my beloved state of Montana produces some embarrassing development that results in national headlines leading the rest of the country into thinking that we’re just a grizzly-infested outpost that contains nothing but paranoid psychopathic hillbillies. “Montana is crazy,” says the rest of the country. “We should give that state back to Canada.”
Our latest black eye is the Montana GOP’s attempt to outlaw homosexuality. In their sweaty obsession with pressing their bloodshot eyes up against the keyholes of Montana’s bedroom doors, the Republican party has been trying to make “homosexual acts” illegal since 1997. I can’t help but wonder if these “acts” include having an uncanny knack for selecting a club playlist, or displaying fabulous taste in general. The fact that the Montana Supreme Court struck down any such laws in 1997 has not deterred the GOP. They know how we should all conduct our lives, and they can’t wait to shove it down our throats.
For all their flag-wrapped bluster about “individual freedoms,” they sure seem anxious to quash as many as they can. Why does all this reactionary, conservative oppression seem to go hand in hand? Anti-abortion. Anti-gay marriage. Anti-immigration. Anti-teen dancing. Oh wait, that was Footloose. Why do most conservatives have such a hard time learning to live and let live? Hey, if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. Don’t like gay sex? Don’t engage in it. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head, Mr. and Ms. Republican’t, although I’m sure you would aggressively defend their Second Amendment right to do so.
Sexual orientation is not a choice, any more than eye color is. What’s next, making it illegal to be black? Locking people up for being left-handed? Hard time for possession of freckles with the intent to distribute? Come on, Republicans, join us out here in the light. We’re trying to make good time down the evolutionary interstate, and you keep driving your Suburbans down these counterproductive off-ramps. Yes, we know that money is more important to you than human rights, but by advancing this anti-gay stance, you’re shooting yourself in the pro-business foot with a big ol’ handgun of bigotry. The movie industry, theater, dance, hell, the arts in general, are loaded with gays. You’re sending the message that us cowpokes out here in the wild west don’t cotton to none o’ them sek-shu-all deviants. These industries won’t bring their business where they have to face discrimination, and we all lose out. Wake up, for crying out loud! You’re acting like it’s still the 50s. The 1750s.
Evidently, the GOP’s displeasure with the state Supreme Court’s decision to treat homosexuals like human beings has prevented the party from removing the hateful position from their platform for thirteen years. “Oh, we just haven’t gotten around to it,” they say. “We would have deleted it, but we were having the carpets cleaned.” Montana GOP honcho Bowen Greenwood actually said that it just has never come up for discussion. Never mind that anti-sodomy laws were struck down in 2003 as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v Texas, 539 U.S. 558. “Oh, that Supreme Court,” says the Montana GOP, “they’re always trying to make a federal case out of everything.” This case originated in Texas! When it comes to gay tolerance, they make Montana look like Fire Island.
Yes, I poke fun, but to be fair, not all Republicans are bad. Just as it’s wrong to characterize every Montana Democrat as a Phish-loving, Prius-driving organic vegan Birkenstock enthusiast, it’s unfair to say every Republican is a Bible-squeezing, pistol-waving greedhead who is against paying any taxes unless it’s used to fund an aircraft carrier. In fact, Republican state Senator John Brueggeman of Polson agrees that the homophobic philosophy should be removed from the party’s platform. “Does anybody think we should be arresting homosexual people?” he told an AP writer last week. “If you take that stand, you probably shouldn’t be in the Republican party.”
Good for Brueggeman. He asserts that most members of the GOP in Montana are against the policy, as it contradicts their belief in individual freedoms and limited government. Now, it remains to be seen if the state’s Republicans will put their money where their mouth is. I hope they will seize this opportunity to send a badly needed message of tolerance to their party members, and to the constituents they represent. In our current atmosphere of polarized politics and harsh rhetoric from both sides of the political spectrum, the Montana GOP has a golden opportunity to display their compassion, their intelligence, and their tolerance. If Brueggeman is right, and most party members agree that the position should be removed from their platform, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so.
Don’t blow it, Republicans.[Subscribe to this feed with the rss thingamajig, or bookmark NewWest.net/BobWire. Either way, we all win.]
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