By: Coridon Henshaw
Re: MONTANA GAY GROUPS SQUELCH FASCIST REGISTRY
From: Workers World Service
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 1995 18:49:59 -0500 (EST)
Via Workers World Service
Reprinted from the April 6, 1995, issue of Workers World
MONTANA: GAY GROUPS SQUELCH FASCIST REGISTRY
By Leslie Feinberg
On March 22, the Montana Senate added "deviate sexual conduct" to
the categories in a bill requiring registration of violent
criminals. This odious phrase created the basis for a fascist
plan to register any gay man or lesbian in the state who was
convicted of making love.
But the Senate amendment provoked an immediate storm of protest.
After weathering the tempest for one day, the state senators ate
They voted unanimously to retract the amendment on March 23.
Dazed politicians admitted that fury toward the amendment came
from within the state and around the country. Gov. Marc Racicot's
executive assistant called the response "substantial" and said
the bulk was from Montanans opposed to discrimination.
State Sen. Al Bishop had fueled further outrage when he said on
the Senate floor that gay and lesbian love is "worse than
That afternoon, the Montana group Pride! held an angry rally
outside the Capitol in Helena.
In Los Angeles, gay activist David B. Mixner had already begun
organizing a national boycott of Montana. Mixner says officials
in Racicot's office pleaded with him to call off the economic
pressure, saying the amendment had been a "horrible
Mixner says he replied, "Indeed it's been a horrible
misunderstanding, and when it is killed, we'll stop."
Characterizing the amendment as fascist is not rhetoric. The bill
defined "deviate" sex as oral or anal love making between two
people of the same sex.
Montana is one of 22 states with "sodomy" laws that make sex
between two men or two women a crime. Montana's law, passed in
1973, is currently being challenged in court. It makes homosexual
acts--and only homosexual acts--a felony punishable by 10 years
Under the briefly enacted amendment, any lesbian or gay man
convicted of consensual sex would have been forced upon release
from prison to register with the local police chief or county
sheriff where they planned to live for more than 14 days.
Lesbians and gay men would also have been fingerprinted and
photographed. Each individual would have been listed in a
state-wide police register and the information could have been
made public to employers, landlords and neighbors.
On Wednesday it was state law. On Thursday it was scrap paper.
What a difference a day of protest against injustice makes.
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