The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional back in 2003′s Lawrence v. Texas, but lawmakers in Montana are still pondering whether or not to lift a statute that makes gay sex a crime on par with bestiality.
On Friday a House committee heard testimony on SB 107, which would remove homosexual conduct from the state’s criminal code. (The bill already passed the state Senate in a 39-11 vote.)
What’s truly galling is that the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the state’s sodomy ban was unconstitutional in 1997—years before the SCOTUS ruling. And yet the state’s House Judiciary Committee killed a similar attempt at repeal in 2011.
The statute is “only there to remind people that we are indeed second-class citizens, that we are unworthy, that Montana is not a welcoming place for us, that we are despised,” said Sen. Christine Kaufmann (D-Helena), an out lesbian.
Opponents of dumping the law have come up with all kinds of degrading and dishonest reasons for it: Jeff Laszloffy of the Montana Family Foundation insists the state hasn’t “come to grips” with how it wants to treat the LGBT community (you get back to us when you have, Jeff). Dallas Erickson of the group Montana Citizens for Decency Through Law said he “dreads that we are slouching toward Gomorrah” by even considering lifting the ban.
And then there are the folks who say they’re concerned about being able to prosecute child molesters if the law is repealed.
Don’t feel too bad, Montana: 12 other states still ban consensual sodomy (Virginia only dropped its law last week), so there’s every chance you won’t wind up the last state in the union to join the 21st century.