D Gregory Smith

Why Montana Matters

Filed By D Gregory Smith | July 06, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: cancer treatment, criminalize homosexuality, Montana, Montana Human Rights Network

I've been getting some exposure over my post Montana Republicans Are Now Officially Homophobes and Bigots.

Andrew Sullivan linked to my blog. montana_gay_pride_postcard.jpgOutrage was expressed on the Montana GOP's Facebook page. Another Facebook page wants to "Tell MT Republicans to Remove Hate from their platform". The Missoulian published my editorial. Several other media outlets picked up the story.

I've been doing my best to keep the legs under this issue. Other people have been great at spreading the news.

It's not enough.

People are asking me if I've lost my mind. "Why does this matter so much to you? Why can't you let go?" Let me explain.

As long as that plank is in the Montana Republican platform, it sneers at all LGBT persons throughout the United States. As long as that plank exists, it allows bigotry and homophobia to claim official sanction.

It encourages intolerance, hate and the violation of human rights. It promotes ignorance, both social and scientific. It takes a segment of human society and seeks to criminalize them because of their biology, their sexuality, their choice of self-expression. It creates confusion, shame and fear in the minds of children, parents, institutions and churches.

It also creates attitudes of moral superiority and bullying, mocking that phrase "all men are created equal", substituting Orwell's "some are more equal than others." It defies almost everything I know and love about my home state. In short, it's in the best interests of every human being in this country to see that this plank is changed.

Why?

Because you never know who'll be next.

Sure, Montana isn't exactly the political mainstream. It isn't mainstream at all, really. Sure, there aren't a lot of LGBT persons here. Sure, there isn't a lot of impact on the rest of you. But this is a state - one of fifty. And along with Texas, it's discriminating against a specific group of Americans. Where does the creeping stop? Will Wyoming jump on board? Is Idaho next? Utah? Nevada? Arizona? Alaska? Who knows?

Make fun of us if you want, but if you discount Montana and it's impact on the United States of America, you misread history. Montana's natural resources and people have nurtured this nation since Lewis and Clark pioneered the Missouri.

This isn't just the home state of Gary Cooper, Myrna Loy, Ivan Doig, Norman MacLean, Evel Knievel, Charlie Russell, Henry Plummer and Ted Kaczyinski. It's the place that nurtured such prominent political and social figures as Mike Mansfield, Jeannette Rankin, Chet Huntley, Lester Thurow, Lee Metcalf, Jack Horner, David Lynch, Marc Racicot, etc. Political leaders have made this a place to see and be seen. Teddy Kennedy on a bucking bronc in Miles City, or candidate Obama marching in the Butte Fourth of July parade (in fact he was here twice and returned as president).

It matters. Maybe not to you. Not yet.

But stopping this now will be a hell of a lot easier than later, when it's your bedroom they're talking about.


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Laura Hart | July 6, 2010 3:30 PM

Montana matters because injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

spigliatezza | July 6, 2010 4:59 PM

I'm reminded of Martin Niemoller's poem:
"When Hitler attacked the Jews
I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,
I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists,
I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.
Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church --
and there was nobody left to be concerned."

Rex Darwin | July 6, 2010 5:33 PM

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

Jim Toevs | July 7, 2010 3:09 AM

Another reason Montana is important is that we have TWO of the one hundred United States Senators, the same as the "big" States of New York and California.

On any issue or legislation of interest to the LBGT Community, The votes of Democratic Montana U. S. Senators, Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. Jon Tester have the same importance as Sen.'s Schumer and Gilliland of New York, and Sen.'s Boxer and Feinstein of California.

Excellent point! Thanks, Jim. I've sent letters to the entire delegation and the governor. Other voices would also help.

I'm proud of what you're doing personally. It takes someone to make a difference.

Paige Listerud | July 7, 2010 4:09 PM

Montana matters because I grew up in Montana. It's a great big beautiful state. It really is Blue Sky Country and I was blessed to have my childhood shaped by it's wildlife and wide-open landscape.

I grew up in Wolf Point, a little town in the northeast section of the state, perched right on the Missouri River, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. I was a doctor's daughter and a white girl growing up alongside Lakota, Assinniboine, and Blackfoot. Wolf Point was a little town and has lost population since I left.

But you know what, I remember the gay and lesbian kids I grew up with there--even if LG couldn't come out people in town knew them and little me, I didn't know I was bi till I came out at college.

Montana matters because the LGBTQ who live their are Americans who deserve their full civil and human rights. They are NOT criminals or a threat to their communities and the whack jobs who want to criminalize them should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of the state on a rail!

Paige Listerud | July 7, 2010 4:20 PM

Yeeks! Sorry for the lack of punctuation and misspellings. I guess I just got too excited about my old home state.

It should read:

"But, you know what? I remember the gay and lesbian kids I grew up with there. Even if L and G couldn't come out, the people in town knew them. Little me, I didn't know I was bi until I came out at college.

"Montana matters because the LGBTQ who live there are Americans who deserve their full civil and human rights."

Wolf Point is amazing- my friend Greg Hinton was born there...
I'm always amazed at the tough,resilient generous people we seem to nurture, despite the many difficulties.
Thanks, Paige!

dan church | July 7, 2010 7:03 PM

Idaho is already there. The republicans added a plank to their platform here that states they want to define marriage as a union between a "natural" male and female. To take away marriage from trans people.

Idaho's a tough case, indeed. Larry Craig aside...
Thanks, Dan.

Yes, Montana matters. My home state is fond of calling itself "the last best place," but once in a while the bad guys take over, and it starts veering towards becoming "one of the worst places." That's when Montanans who are human-friendly and common-sense have to wake up and take their territory back. Now more than ever.

Those who dismiss states like Montana as backwaters that don't matter are missing a critical point. The bad guys always begin by consolidating their power in less-populated places where it's easier to swing the vote, before moving on to more populous states that are supposedly "more important."

Thanks for making such a great case for Montana's importance!

...and thank you for continuing to take an interest in us back home- it means a lot.