I was the first blogger to break the news of the hateful dialog in which Montana Tea Party president Tim Ravndal was caught. In short, he appeared to advocate the torture/lynching of gay people, conjuring up the disturbing image of Matthew Shepard.
And yet, as a gay man living in the West, I couldn't help but be surprised and somewhat impressed with the official response of the Big Sky Tea Party leadership in announcing Ravndal's termination:
We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialog, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks. "If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to race, sex, ethnicity, etc. they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone," said chairman Jim Walker.
Wow. Not bad.
So now I have to ask myself, "Is the Tea Party officially more inclusive than the Republican Party?"
The Montana Republican party has in its platform plank (as, similarly, does Texas) explicit language calling for the criminalization of homosexual acts:
We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.
As a party that touts its tolerance, this seems to me to be quite intolerant. In fact, the Big Sky Tea Party now comes across as much more inclusive, less bigoted and homophobic than the Montana GOP, whose official platform (since 2008) clearly is loaded with prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.
I want to be clear - I am not a Republican, a conservative or a Tea Party member. I am an Independent, liberal, gay man living in Montana. But I can't help but be struck by the diplomacy of my so-called right-wing adversaries vs. the silence and established prejudice of the Grand Old Party.
Which brings me back to the question, "Is the Big Sky Tea Party more supportive of basic human rights than the Montana GOP?"
I find it amusing that we even have to ask the question- and yes, I can honestly appreciate the full-on irony of this moment. But still, no major Republican or Republican groups (even the gay one) has denounced this plank publicly, or even made any semblance of a fuss. Hell, the Democrats haven't even said anything officially- maybe because it's too easy. Whatever. It's just been a few gadflies with an outraged sense of injustice.
So, the answer to the question, on paper anyway, seems to be "Yes."