Anti-Gay Montana Bill Gets 60-39 Approval, Heads Toward Passage

The bill, which would nullify Missoula, Montana’s Equality Ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination, and would force other municipalities to rely on state law (which doesn’t protect LGBTs) when looking to enact similar statutes, passed the House by a vote of 60-39 and will get a final vote before heading to the Senate.

The Missoulian: Montana

Sixty Republicans voted for it. All 32 Democrats voted opposed it, joined by seven Republicans. One Republican was absent.

It was the second bill that passed Tuesday to nullify a locally adopted policy in Missoula. Earlier, the House banned enactment of local initiatives such as the one Missoula County voters approved in 2006 to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority of law enforcement. (See related story.)

“It is ironic that the first bill of the day and the last bill of the day both intend to override the expressed will of Missoulians to govern ourselves as we see fit,” said Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula.

Said Rep. Sue Malek, D-Missoula, of the vote on the LGBT bill: “Leave us alone. For heaven’s sake. We’re one little town in a corner of Montana that has nothing to do with you. You know, I mean, why can’t you let people live like they need to live their lives? Why can’t they love who they want to love?”


Bennett, however, told how Missoula’s enactment of the ordinance gave LGBT residents of Missoula hope that is now being dashed.

“It gave those young (LGBT) people who had been beaten up, yelled at and discriminated against day in and day out the dimmest light of hope that maybe someday they might be equal to other Montanans, maybe someday,” he said. “But this bill looks to extinguish that dim light of hope and eliminate an existing right for LGBT Missoulians.”

Shameful. Just shameful.


  1. bguy says

    We should focus our pressure on Democratic governor Schweitzer to veto this bill. 60-39 is not a veto-proof majority (two thirds).

  2. Mark says

    My partner almost accepted a job at the university in Missoula. He took one in New York state instead. We were married in Vermont last year and that marriage is recognized by the state of New York, I am covered by his insurance, etc. It’s pretty obvious we made the right choice on where to move.

  3. Jason says

    This law is similar to the one the Supreme Court struck down in Romer v. Evans- but the Supreme Court has shifted dramatically to the right since that case. It could be thrown out in court, but that process is expensive and heartbreaking. Best possible outcome is the governor’s veto, or Senate Republicans suddenly developing ethics.

    So, the veto then.

  4. says

    The governor will, most likely, veto this bill if it ever passes the Senate.
    However, if we can focus the attention on Montana’s Taliban long enough so that voters will see what religious extremism in action looks like, we might have a chance at actually changing the process….

  5. Rob says

    Montana probably will bring back frontier-style lynching of people for being gay just for the sport of it. What a despicable state. Good luck to fellow GLBT citizens who have to live and work there under such a draconian homophobic law. The GOPers win (and hate) again – so far. Let’s hope their Democratic Governor vetoes it!

  6. Francis says

    Good that there is the potential for a veto, but my heart really goes out to all LGBT Montana citizens, especially the younger ones, what they must be going through to have elected officials essentially not recognize or value them as human and try to take away their rights and protections. What all of this shows is that social conservatives don’t care one iota about the will of the people, but rather the will of hate and enshrined discrimination.

  7. Brian from Tucson says

    Chris says “The GOP are NOT anti-gay are more accepting of gays then the Democrats.”

    Then why are these discriminatory laws always passed by the GOP and equality laws are passed and signed by Democrats? GOP Proud has nothing to be proud of.

  8. says

    The Colorado law struck down in 1996’s ROMER V. EVANS was a voter initiative, not a legislatively enacted measure. It is true, though, it is likely Gov. Schweitzer will veto the bill. If he doesn’t I seriously doubt the SCOTUS would strike it down. It should be interesting to see if there are any other Republican-dominated states (Wyoming, Idaho, etc) will follow Montana’s homophobic lead.

  9. Sam says

    At least there were seven Republicans that joined all the Democrats in voting against this bill. Shame on the other 60 Republicans. Hopefully enough Republicans in the Montana Senate this bill as discriminatory and vote it down with the Democrats. If not, I’m willing to bet the Governor will veto it.

  10. DN says

    Mark, I’m in a similar situation. Fiance and I could live in DC or Arizona. In DC, we get legal protections once we marry… while in Arizona, our marriage is prohibited by the state constitution.

    I’ve asked my (now former) boss that when people complain about how marriage equality will make life harder for straight people, I’d like for him to tell them that he lost a solid employee because of a gay marriage ban.

  11. Bruno says

    Remember that Barron & GOProud don’t believe in ENDA type laws. They couldn’t care less about this (or gay rights for that matter).

  12. brian says

    I would like to commend the 7 republicans who were brave enough to vote against this bill. Unfortunately for them, I’m sure they will pay the price and be driven out of the party.

  13. says

    They need to read the Declaration of Independence. They HAVE TO treat everyone equal, or concede their government back to England.