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Montana GOP Foils Dem 'Blast' Attempt to Pass LGBT Non-Discrimination, Gay Marriage Bills

Montana Republicans on Monday foiled attempts by Democratic lawmakers to pass four tabled bills, one of which was an LGBT non-discrimination bill, and another a gay marriage bill. The attempts were made via "blast motion" which allows lawmakers to lift tabled bills out of committee, the AP reports.

BennettA motion by Senator Christina Kaufmann (D-Helena) failed 21-29 along party lines:

The measure would prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by adding the words "gender identity and expression and sexual orientation" to the state's Human Rights Act. The act currently bans discrimination based on race, creed, religion, color, sex, physical or mental disability, age or national origin in situations such as housing or employment.

Another bill dealt with gay marriage:

Rep. Bryce Bennett (pictured), of Missoula, moved to blast a tabled bill to the House floor that would remove same-sex couples from a list of prohibited marriages. House Bill 282 required 60 votes for a successful blast but failed by a vote of 43-57. Two Republicans, Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, of Billings, and Rep. Mike Miller, of Helmville, broke from their party and voted in favor.

A federal judge struck down Montana's ban on gay marriage in November. Gay couples began marrying the following day.

Openly Gay Montana Rep. Bryce Bennett Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Marriage From State's List Of Prohibited Marriages

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.45.53 PMD-Rep. Bryce Bennett of Missoula, Mont. introduced House Bill 282 in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that if passed would remove same-sex marriage from a list of prohibited marriages reports NBC MontanaIn November, District Judge Brian Morris struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Montana with the state joining 32, now 36, other states that allow or have seen rulings allowing same-sex marriages. Morris ruled that Montana's ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, thus making the ban unconstitutional. 

The U.S. Supreme Court announced in early January that it would take up the issue of gay marriage. However, members of the Montana House Judiciary Committee questioned removing the state's restriction before the high court makes its decision on the matter. The U.S. Supreme Court declared it would hear four cases that challenge states' bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee with the cases set for hearings on April 24. 

Montana Poised to Repeal Law Criminalizing Homosexuality: VIDEO

Yesterday I posted gay Montana Rep. Bryce Bennett's powerful floor speech in support of repealing the state's statutes which criminalize gay sex. The Montana House took a vote on it yesterday, and it was decisive, the Billings Gazette reports:

B_bennettAfter a half-hour of emotional debate for and against the measure, the House voted 64-36 to endorse Senate Bill 107, one day after House members narrowly voted to remove it from the House Judiciary Committee, where it had been tabled on a party-line vote with Republicans in favor.

“It’s not about encouraging a lifestyle,” said Rep. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, one of the Legislature’s only openly gay members. “It’s simply about respecting privacy between two adults. … It’s just as simple as saying that all Montanans deserve dignity and respect.”

Twenty-five Republicans joined all 39 House Democrats to support the bill, which removes gay sex from the definition of the crime of “deviate sexual relations,” a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.

Sodomy_montana38 Republicans voted to keep the unconstitutional language on Montana's books:

Kerns' stance, and the fact that 38 Republicans effectively voted to keep gay sex a felony, incensed Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte).

"It was so hard to sit through that and not walk across the floor and punch him," Curtis said of Kerns in a video uploaded on YouTube. "That's so offensive. Talk about starting a fight."

"...To say that our friends and our neighbors and our brothers and sisters and our cousins, aunts and uncles should be felons, and we support this because the Bible says so?... It's wrong," Curtis railed, accusing two of the Republican lawmakers who oppose the bill of "promoting hate."

A final vote in the House is set to happen as earlly as today.

Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner spoke with Bennett following the second reading of the bill:

"It feels like we're entering a new day in the state ... and people are ready to move on from this discussion of whether homosexuality should be legal or not," Bennett told BuzzFeed Tuesday shortly after the second reading of a bill to formally repeal the state's sodomy law....

..."While it's exciting that we got this point ... we've got a number of steps to take forward before we can tackle other issues to make sure everyone in our state is truly equal," he said.

Watch a report from KRTV on the debate and vote, AFTER THE JUMP...

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