Matt Volz of The Associated Press wrote last week of the Montana GOP’s official party platform calling to criminalize homosexuality, and his story brought national attention to an embarrassing issue for state Republicans. In fact, Volz’s story leads with longtime state Sen. John Brueggeman, R-Polson, saying the appalling stance should be changed immediately. While he’s at it, Brueggeman also suggests a procedural update to make things right—scrubbing the state’s outdated, unconstitutional and therefore meaningless law concerning homosexuality, a formality that’s failed multiple times in Helena thanks to Republican opposition.

Indy readers may be wondering why this is suddenly national news. As Don Pogreba pointed out at, the Independent and numerous bloggers—including Daily Kos, under the headline, “American Taliban, thriving in Montana”—originally reported this same story three months ago. Sorta funny, Pogreba added, that Volz filed his AP report just days after his company publicly called out CNN for stealing its stories.

While Volz’s better-late-than-never report comes with dubious timing (Volz told us he hadn’t seen the previous coverage and heard about the issue for the first time last week), it certainly reaches a much broader audience than some political blogs and, dare we admit, our plucky little paper. So, how are Republicans handling the extra heat?

Brueggeman surely got out in front of the issue. In Volz’s story, he goes so far as to say he believes the “vast majority” of Republicans believe the wording should be removed. Party leaders are also scrambling to limit the damage. Will Deschamps, state party chairman, backtracked on the issue when talking with the Independent this week about an openly gay Republican candidate running for state Senate (see page 9).

“It’s an 11-word statement in a 32-page platform,” Deschamps said.

Republicans make the issue sound like a misunderstanding or minor oversight.

Not so fast. First of all, it’s 18 words—and pretty damning words at that. More importantly, Deschamps told Indy reporter Jessica Mayrer in July that at least two-thirds of the Republican Party’s approximately 99 delegates voted in favor of the platform as recently as June 19—a fact that debunks Brueggeman’s rosy estimate. Furthermore, check Brueggeman’s voting record on LGBT issues: he’s voted against key legislation calling for LGBT rights in 2007, 2005, 2003 and 2001.

“It’s the platform that was adopted by the Montana Republican Party,” Deschamps said in July. “And that’s the way it will stand.”

It shouldn’t, of course. And if the increased media attention forces the GOP to rewrite its unconscionable platform, great. Just don’t let the party rewrite its recent history on the issue.

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