Society

Montana Formally Decriminalizes Gay Sex

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While legislators and gay rights activists cheered him on, the governor of Montana signed a bill into law that formally decriminalizes gay sex in his state.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 107 at a ceremony in the Capitol's Rotunda on Thursday, permanently removing a law that classified gay sex as a felony. The gesture was symbolic in nature because the law was not actually being enforced, USA Today reported.

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"I am not going to speak too long," Bullock said during the signing ceremony. "Because frankly, the longer I talk, the longer this unconstitutional and embarrassing law continues to stay on our books."

Lobbyist Linda Gryczan filed a lawsuit asking the state to nullify the law. Now that it is finally done, she had this to say:

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"Because (that) would have followed the normal course of what you'd expect, unconstitutional law, you take it off the books ... it makes sense," she said. "Unfortunately, to a lot of people, prejudice got in the way and we had to fight that prejudice."

35 Republicans opposed the bill. Representative Jerry Bennett did so because of religious reasons.

"God says we're to love one another ... but I still have to remain true to my beliefs in God and what he asks of us, and so balancing that is a very difficult thing at times," Bennett said.

At least one Republican state representative supported the bill. Rep. Duane Ankney has a gay daughter. "To say she is any less of a person, or she is a criminal for her lifestyle really upsets me," Ankney said.

Sources: USA Today, Reuters