Gay Sex No Longer a Crime in Montana

Governor signs bill ending ban

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 19, 2013 2:32 AM CDT | Updated Apr 19, 2013 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Montana has been a little slow to decriminalize gay sex—but a law banning it was finally wiped from the books after Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill yesterday. Activists had been fighting the ban for decades; the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional 16 years ago, the AP notes, and it hadn't been enforced for years. Bullock's signature prompted cheers. "I am not going to speak too long because, frankly, the longer I talk, the longer this embarrassing and unconstitutional law stays on the books," he said.

Gay rights advocates hoped the move was a step forward. "As more and more LGBT people come out to their friends and their neighbors," said one activist, "it's going to be harder to discriminate against them." The bill passed the state House 64-35 and the Senate 38-11. Both chambers are controlled by the GOP; members of both parties backed the legislation. But not everyone's happy: "This isn't over," says a Republican who opposed the measure. "We will see a continual push for recognition of unions ... for health insurance. All kinds of things will come out of this."

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks to a crowd at a ceremony signing into law a gay rights bill on Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Helena, Mont.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks to a crowd at a ceremony signing into law a gay rights bill on Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Helena, Mont.   (AP Photo/Matt Gouras)
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, left, state Sen. Tom Facey and advocate Linda Gryczan attend a ceremony signing the bill into law Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Helena, Mont.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, left, state Sen. Tom Facey and advocate Linda Gryczan attend a ceremony signing the bill into law Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Helena, Mont.   (AP Photo/Matt Gouras)
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