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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. 


Why Marriage Equality in Florida Is a Sign of Good Things to Come

FloridaBY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

When last we spoke, the freedom to marry had just been handed a setback: the Sixth Circuit let stand marriage discrimination laws in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Over the holiday season, though, we took many steps forward in defiance of that egregious and wrongheaded appellate court opinion: Marriage equality officially came to Montana and South Carolina. And although she tried every trick in her book, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could not stop the arc of justice from sweeping ashore in the Sunshine State.

The arrival of marriage freedom in Florida is particularly notable because of how it happened.

BondiIn Florida, a federal district court judge ruled in August that the state's marriage ban was unconstitutional; the judge stayed his decision until January 5, 2015. The Republicans running the state wanted to delay as much as possible as they appealed the judge's ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But neither the district court nor the circuit court would grant the state a stay beyond January 5. So, Attorney General Bondi asked the Supreme Court. The Court said no, with only Justice Scalia and Thomas willing to issue the stay.

Note the difference between South Carolina and Montana, on the one hand, and Florida on the other. South Carolina is under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit, which declared Virginia's marriage ban unconstitutional some time ago. Montana is in the Ninth Circuit, which made a similar decision in Idaho's case in October. Because marriage equality was just steps away from all the other states in those jurisdictions as a result of the appellate court decisions, the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay in the South Carolina case.

Florida is in the Eleventh Circuit, which has not had occasion to rule on a gay marriage case. So the Supreme Court's refusal to grant a stay and to allow marriages to start in Florida was a stronger pro-equality signal than denying a stay in South Carolina.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Montana Teen Arrives Home To Find Anti-gay Slur Spray Painted On His Door

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.10.55 PM

A bisexual Montana teen found a gay slur spray painted on his trailer door after spending the night at a friend's house reports Billings Gazette18-year-old Cain Stacy arrived home in the early hours of the morning to find the slur "fag," still wet, painted on the front door of his trailer. Stacy is not so much upset about being called the slur, but is moreso upset that someone had the nerve to deface his family's property with it.

Stacy's mother, Hiedi Hanna, lives next door and owns both properties. Hanna and Stacy reported the incident with police, but both are disappointed with how the case is being handled. Stacy informed the police of a potential suspect, but Billings Police Department Lt. Kevin Iffland said the suspect denied any involvement and consented to a search that yielded no evidence of their involvement. Iffland said the crime is classified as a criminal mischief with a bias motivation noted against bisexuals; the case is currently closed because police ran out of leads in the case however, should the department receive tips or other news about the case, then they will reopen it.

Until then, Stacy is stuck with the slur on his door; it's currently too cold to apply a fresh coat of paint to the door because it won't stick. For the time being Stacy is covering the slur with a plastic bag. "I just want it off my damn door," Stacy said. 

The Montana Board of Crime Control finds that overall hate crimes are decreasing over the last few years although there are occasional spikes; in the year of 2006, Montana saw a high of 154 reported hate crimes, while the last two years have only seen between 40-50 reported hate crimes. Out of 49 reported hate crimes in 2012, only 12 of them involved sexual orientation biases.


First Gay Couples Marry in Montana: PHOTOS

Rolando
(image via andrea nitschke twitter)

Gay couples have begun marrying in Montana after a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban yesterday afternoon. The first marriage license to a gay couple was issued in Cascade County to Tonya and Angie Rolando (above), one of four couples who were plaintiffs in the case challenging the ban.

The Missoulian reports that couples have begun marrying there as well: Burgess_early

Leslie Burgess and Serena Early have wed in the Missoula County Courthouse, the first gay couple to do so since a federal judge lifted Montana's ban on same-sex marriage.

A staff member for Montana ACLU performed the ceremony for a lively crowd shortly after 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Kileen Marshall is a license officiant, and was on hand to marry a growing line of couples.

Five minutes later, Ally Logan and Carolyn Jones became the second couple to wed. The two said they had waited 10 years for this day.


Montana Attorney General Tim Fox To Appeal Ruling Striking Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd361ab6970b-800wiIn the wake of U.S. District Judge Brian Morris' ruling today which struck down Montana's 2004 voter approved ban on same-sex marriage, Montana's Republican Attorney General Tim Fox, who has previously voiced his opposition to marriage equality, announced his intent to appeal Morris' decision. The Washington Blade reports:

“It is the attorney general’s sworn duty to uphold and defend Montana’s constitution until such time as there is no further review or no appeal can be made in a court of law,” Fox said. “Fulfilling that duty, the state of Montana will appeal this ruling in light of the fact that there are conflicting federal court decisions and no final word from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The reaction was somewhat different from the state's Governor, Steve Bullock, a Democrat, who praised Morris' ruling: 

“Today’s decision ensures we are closer to fulfilling our promise of freedom, dignity, and equality for all Montanans,” Bullock said. “It is a day to celebrate our progress, while recognizing the qualities that bind us as Montanans: a desire to make a good life for ourselves and our families, while providing greater opportunities to the next generation.” 


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