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Montana Lawmakers Repeal State’s Unconstitutional Sodomy Law

“What an incredible day for equality and basic dignity,” the state’s only out gay lawmaker says.

Montana’s only out gay lawmaker, Rep. Bryce Bennett, tweeted that the state house voted to repeal the state’s sodomy law Wednesday.

Although Bennett’s shot of the vote screen shows only 64 votes in favor, Bennett notes that Republican Rep. Steve Lavin “added his yes vote later.”

“What an incredible day for equality and basic dignity,” Bennett wrote on Facebook.

The Senate already passed the bill, so it will now go to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, whose office told BuzzFeed Tuesday the governor does not generally comment on pending legislation. Bullock has been supportive of some LGBT rights so he is expected to sign it.

Although the law had been held unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court in 1997, efforts to remove the law from the books had never succeeded before this session.

Talking to BuzzFeed Tuesday, Bennett said, “Folks have been trying to pull this language from our statute in Montana since 1991, so this has been a long time coming ….”

Looking ahead, he added, “While it’s exciting that we got this point … we’ve got a number of steps to take forward before we can tackle other issues to make sure everyone in our state is truly equal.”

The final vote to repeal the law Wednesday came almost precisely 16 years after the justices of the state’s Supreme Court heard the arguments on April 11, 1997, in the case in which they ended up ruling the law unconstitutional.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.
 
 
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