Montana’s Republican Party adopted a platform on June 19 that calls to criminalize homosexuality.
“We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal,” the platform states.
As word spread of the GOP’s stance, multiple commentators lined up to attack it. Jed Lewison from the Daily Kos reported on the platform under the subject line, “American Taliban, thriving in Montana.” Lewison then linked to Towleroad, Andy Towle's queer blog. Closer to home, jhwygirl at 4&20 Blackbirds didn't pull any punches in her write-up.
“I am beyond disgusted with this kind of stuff,” she wrote. “It’s no government’s business what anyone does in their bedroom."
We touched base with Montana GOP Chairman Will Deschamps, pictured here, in hopes of better understanding his party’s stance on homosexuality.
When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Deschamps confirmed that at last two thirds of the Republican Party’s approximately 99 delegates—comprised of central committee members, state legislators and Republican Party candidates—voted in favor of criminalizing homosexual acts.
“Well, obviously there’s a belief in the Republican Party that those sorts of actions should be illegal,” Deschamps says. “The majority of the people feel that it should be outlawed.”
The move reaffirmed of the party’s 2008 platform. And, Deschamps says, this time around the issue didn’t cause much of a stir.
“As I recall there was very little discussion when that came to the floor,” he says. “It went through very rapidly.”
Until 1997 Montana statute made it a felony for two people of the same gender to have sexual contact. Those prosecuted under the law faced 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Montana’s Supreme Court struck down the statute in 1997, declaring it a violation of Montana’s constitutional right to privacy. But the Legislature never actually repealed the law, and it remains on the books.
Deschamps says while Montana Republicans advocate criminalizing sexual activity between people of the same sex, the GOP isn't pushing for any specific punishment. State representatives would be left to find a fitting penalty. “I guess that would be up to the Legislature," he said. "Political parties don’t establish punishments.”
Despite heat from left-leaning critics, Deschamps says the GOP has no intention of altering its position.
“It’s the platform that was adopted by the Montana Republican Party," he says. "And that’s the way it will stand.”