Fourteen years ago the Montana Supreme Court ruled that a state law criminalizing gay sex violates Montana's constitution, yet the Montana Legislature has repeatedly failed to scrub the language, which places homosexuality in the same legal category as bestiality, from the books. ...Words fail. Someone should hold a kiss-in.
In fact, at least one lawmaker, Rep. Ken Peterson, R-Billings, an attorney, argues that the archaic law may still apply in certain situations.
Which situations? According to Peterson, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, there are at least two prosecutable offenses—felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. One is the "recruitment" of non-gays. "Homosexuals can't go out into the heterosexual community and try to recruit people, or try to enlist them in homosexual acts," Peterson says. He provides an example: "'Here, young man, your hormones are raging. Let's go in this bedroom, and we'll engage in some homosexual acts. You'll find you like it.'" Peterson hasn't actually seen this happen, he says, because "I don't associate with that group of people at all... I've associated with mainstream people all my life."
The other offense, in Peterson's legal opinion, is the public display of homosexuality, since he believes the Supreme Court's decision only applies to private acts behind closed doors. Being gay in public, he says, is a wholly different matter:
"In my mind, if they were engaging in acts in public that could be construed as homosexual, it would violate that statute. It has to be more than affection. It has to be overt homosexual acts of some kind or another... If kissing goes to that extent, yes. If it's more than that, yes."
Look, this is unlikely to get anywhere. But it exposes the pure and very ugly hatred that underlies much of the opposition.