Montana-style federalism, or lack thereof

February 22, 2011 at 6:34 am 50 comments

By Adam Bink

I am always amazed how conservatives preach the gospel of federalism, smaller government, the 10th Amendment (powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states), local control (the argument for abolishing the Department of Education), and so forth. Then turn around and invade our bedrooms, doctor’s offices, and more. And if a state (Massachusetts) does something they don’t like, it’s time for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

I’ve been chatting over the last few months with a documentary filmmaker up in Montana who’s been making a fascinating documentary on the fight to pass the human rights ordinance in Missoula, Montana. While Missoula is known as the liberal for Montana, it still attracted the opposition of an array of anti-gay groups and activists. The ordinance, enacted in 2010, protects residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He told me the Montana legislature was considering a law to overturn the ordinance, and make state law supersede local control.

Via Joe Sudbay, we see it’s advancing:

The Republican majority on the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that would effectively overturn Missoula’s 2010 ordinance banning discrimination against city residents based on their sexual orientation and gender.

House Bill 516 by Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre, now moves to the House floor for debate this week.

It would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances or policies that seek to protect residents from real or perceived discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender as the cities of Missoula did through an ordinance and Bozeman did through a policy.

The panel voted earlier Monday to table HB514 by Rep. Edie McClafferty, D-Butte, which would have broadened the Montana Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination statewide based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation. The move to table her bill came after the bill was rejected 14-6.

If you’re in Montana, please do contact your legislators. Missoula can decide for itself how to treat its residents when it comes to human rights- that should be something on which people of all ideologies agree.

Entry filed under: Community/Meta.

NOM: So far (off), so (hostile to a public) good OPUS Fi-NOM-us: It’s time for NOM to acknowledge its Catholic impetus

50 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ed Cortes  |  February 22, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Let me get this “straight” – They want to require discrimination?

    and scribin’

    • 2. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 22, 2011 at 6:46 am

      That’s sort of how I am reading it – Forced Discrimination – it’s a sad world.

      • 3. grod  |  February 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm

        @Lesbians Love Boies
        “Missoula can decide for itself how to treat its residents when it comes to human rights.” Dah! That is an interesting statement, which if tested is not only likely to be true but if so not desirable. Imperial Country CA could refuse to marry same sex partners by local decree.
        Perhaps, the US Constitution or State constitutions gives powers to cities in the sphere of civil rights. In Canada, the Constitution gives each provincial (state) legislature exclusive responsibility to make laws that govern municipal institutions. The only sources of authority and revenue collection available to municipalities is those granted by provincial legislation. “The scope of provincial control of municipalities is largely unfettered”. Toronto’s population of 2,503,000 is larger than the size of the 4 Atlantic provinces combined, but it’s a creature of the province of Ontario. The provincial government a few years back was bent on reducing the number of municipalities. It passed a bill that forced amalgamation everywhere, including Toronto.
        Popular – no, doable yes!

    • 4. Leo  |  February 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

      Strictly speaking, they want to require discrimination to be legal. There’s no requirement in the bill that any discrimination actually occur, only that it shouldn’t be prohibited.

      Constitutionally, how is this different from Romer v. Evans?

      • 5. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 22, 2011 at 6:56 am

        Still sad that they want to remove the anti-discrimination bill from one city.

      • 6. Steve  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:11 am

        The difference is that Amendment 2 in CO took away protections at ALL levels. Local and state. Montana still leaves the door open for state-level protection, not that it’s going to happen. They also don’t explicitly single out gay people, but target all such statutes.

        Of course it’s only aimed at gays and such certainly violated the spirit of Romer vs Evans, but it might just comply with the letter of the decision

        • 7. AB  |  February 22, 2011 at 10:22 am

          Sure, but if the rationale of Romer was that taking away anti-discrimination was an equal protection violation, then that shouldn’t matter. Romer was a 14th Amendment case, not a 10th Amendment case.
          I really don’t see how it could survive a Romer challenge.

      • 8. JonT  |  February 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm

        Constitutionally, how is this different from Romer v. Evans?

        I was wondering the same thing…

      • 9. Sagesse  |  February 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

        That would be my question. Romer v Evans was decided in part because the CO statute was so sweeping. This seems pretty sweeping.

    • 10. George  |  February 22, 2011 at 7:27 am


      • 11. Peterplumber  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:15 am

        Ummm, I guess I don’t have rights to that symbol, George, but it’s what I have been using for some time now. While I am glad you like it enough to copy me, I would like it if you came up with something on your own.

        • 12. AnonyGrl  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

          Sorry, I have to jiump in with a question about that…

          I don’t understand your concern, Peter? The double male symbol has long been one that is used by many people, and I am not sure why you are claiming it as yours?

          Not that it matters a whole lot, I am just curious what you are thinking there?

        • 13. Kate  |  February 22, 2011 at 10:45 am

          Wow, Peterplumber, I didn’t know you were the guy who invented that!

        • 14. Peterplumber  |  February 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

          I said, I don’t have rights to that symbol, George

          I never said it was purely mine.

          I am tired of getting admonished around here. You can take this site and shove it. Bye all!!!!

          • 15. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

            Peter, I don’t think anyone was bashing you for what you said…just that it has been used here by others in the past.

            Please stay.

          • 16. AnonyGrl  |  February 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm

            Wow. That was rather over the top. I was only asking a simple question, not admonishing you at all. I think Kate’s was more in the vein of a gentle ribbing, which we are all used to around here.

            Sorry if I offended you, I was just not sure what you were on about, and wanted some clarification.

          • 17. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  February 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm

            Behavior and words that offend will always get called out here….as they should.
            You can get your feelings hurt and run away if you so feel the need, OR you can see things from the other side, take note of what was percieved as wrong or hurtful and learn from it.
            The choice is yours……….

          • 18. Straight Dave  |  February 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

            OK, let me stick my neck out here.
            I second LLB, please stay. Your contributions are definitely appreciated.
            While you seem to be a recent commenter, I’m not sure how long you have been a silent reader of this site. Many of us have been here 13 months or so. A certain unspoken culture has evolved along the way.

            In general, anyone can say anything they want in whatever manner they prefer. Everyone is allowed to be themselves, I suspect because that is part of the difficult challenge of their coming out, and it needs to be supported. But with that backdrop, requesting or suggesting that specific individuals do or don’t do something to meet someone else’s expectations doesn’t go down very well. Many people have spent their lives trying to escape from that.

            On the other hand, constructive criticism about how the community as a whole can do a more effective job of advancing their goals and rights is well accepted. Even individual constructive criticism, in the interest of being supportive and helping to advance their interests, is taken well. My favorite example is Arisha’s interviewing on the NOM bus tours. She took the group’s positive suggestions and did a masterful job of incorporating them and putting Brian and others on the spot while behaving very professional.

            It’s possible you may not be aware that Kathleen, in addition to providing us access to a large collection of important legal documents, has paid for that access out of her own pocket by using her private PACER account. Every single page costs real money. She has refused offers from others to help share that cost. In that context, calling her out to contribute further might go a long way toward explaining her reaction.

            I won’t address today’s incident and hope you decide to shrug it off as a minor nit that has little significance in the long run. We all have bigger fish to fry, so come help us.

            Again, I’d like you to stay and continue to contribute your own personal experience, perspective, and ideas.

          • 19. Kathleen  |  February 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm

            For the record, Peterplumber has recently begun to help some with the cost of documents by using his own Pacer acct to purchase the filings in the Mass DOMA cases.

          • 20. Straight Dave  |  February 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

            I stand corrected. Thank you, Kathleen.
            And thanks to you, too, Peterplumber. That was something I hadn’t noticed before. Just my own oversight.

          • 21. Peterplumber  |  February 23, 2011 at 5:57 am

            At first I was just a lurker. But the more I read the comments, the more I knew I needed to participate. So I posted a few short blurbs. Soon after I started posting more & more often on the site, until all the “regulars” knew me by (screen)name. A few even knew my by email address & phone number. When Kathleen asked me to help out collecting legal documents from the Federal court cases, I knew I was “in the group”. But the more I posted, the more often someone would admonish me for doing something wrong, like forgetting to use quotes when posting a quote or posting a link incorrectly. And I don’t mean a simple constructive criticism, I MEAN ADMONSIHMENT.

            Well I am an easy going guy, and I like to have some fun. In fact, most people that know me know I am always happy and joking and playing jokes or games, and like to have the same kind of fun. I know humor especially wry humor or sarcasm or even some quick witticism doesn’t always translate well in the written word. It takes body language, facial expressions and tonal infliction to convey humor. But I can think of several times I was admonished on the P8TT site for trying to exhibit humor. It’s like I am being told to NOT be myself, it’s like I am being told to be like THEM and not like me. It sux, and there is no reason for me to put myself in their presence if they are only going to try to make me believe as they believe, and make me walk on eggshells because I am afraid of saying something that someone may take offence to.

            The other day, someone, I don’t remember who, and it WASN’T me, mentioned something about how there seemed to be too many hall monitors here. This tells me that I am not the only one who is tired of being told what to do and what to say. I have an independent mind and a free way of thinking! And I don’t like being told to “HUSH”. So if I can’t speak my mind and be myself on, why should I waste my time going there?

            I loved(ed) all of you, and enjoyed most of the time I have spent with you. In the short time we spent together, I really feel like I have grown close to many of you. All thru the written word only. One fun thing about the internet, if you can really get to know people without really knowing them. But conversely, you never know who is on the other end of the internet writing to you. Is that part of the excitement of it? The danger factor? I dunno, but I have been spreading my words all over the internet since AOL version 1 came out. I had a 2400 BAUD dial up modem in my IBM 286 computer and it was FANTASTIC. I have been a member of the internet community since before the WWW and HTML were invented. A lot has changed since those early days, and I have grown with it the whole way. I consider myself internet savvy and aware of my internet surroundings and beware of danger cuz I recognize danger when I see it. But sometimes I feel I am treated as a noob on P8TT, like I got my first computer last week.

            I am intelligent, witty, lovable, hard working, committed, diligent, fun loving guy. I have no troubles in the world. Nothing bothers me (except, of course, NOM) and nothing worries me. But sometimes I feel the P8TT community dragging me down. For my own sanity and wellbeing, I have to go.

            Love to all and let’s hope for a swift death of DOMA!!


          • 22. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 23, 2011 at 7:18 am

            Well, sorry to see you go Peter. I hate saying goodbye – so until next time.

          • 23. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  February 23, 2011 at 8:11 am

            2 cents: I don’t usually find humor/sarcasm offensive… it confuses me… with the explanation from PP comments 10 & 11 seem fun/funny. Like Anonygrl, I was curious what pp meant by asking “george” to not use the symbol….I knew I was missing something : /

            Love and Light to PP and P8TT family!

          • 24. Sheryl Carver  |  February 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

            I, too, am sorry that you are leaving, Peterplumber. You brought a lot to this group.

            I don’t visit many sites; the few I do go to regularly are addictive enough. The folks on this site in general are pretty great, and also human, so misunderstandings happen, as do emotionally charged posts/reactions. There are a couple of people that I rarely respond to, based on past interactions, but that’s to be expected in any large group.

            I hope you’ll continue to visit, even if only to “lurk.” & I hope that maybe you’ll change your mind & resume posting.

            In any case, I most certainly wish you well & thank you for all your contributions.

    • 25. fiona64  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:52 am

      They’re obviously taking a page out of Utah Rep. Lavar Christensen’s book, since he has bills on the floor of Utah’s legislature that would mandate discrimination as well.


  • 26. Ronnie  |  February 22, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Let us not forget Montana GOP’s (Gestapo Oppressing People) still holds an un-American platform against LGBT tax payers….. : I ….Ronnie

  • 27. Richard A. Jernigan  |  February 22, 2011 at 7:07 am

    This sounds exactly like the new amendment that is before the legislature here in NC. Not only are they wanting to rewrite our constitution to ban marriage equality, they are also wanting that same amendment to make it illegal for any city, town, village, and/or county to enact any laws or ordinances to offer ANY protections to its LGBT citizens.

  • 28. Ann S.  |  February 22, 2011 at 7:23 am


    And scribin’.

  • 29. atty79  |  February 22, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I hate to be a cheerleader for this type of law (and others like it across the country) but the more laws like this one that blatantly target us simply for our sexual orientation (our status, who we are), the easier it will be for SCOTUS to apply a heightened scrutiny standard to laws discriminating against us. States like MT and NC are just building the case that we are exactly the type of people equal protection protects.

    • 30. Sheryl Carver  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Gotta hope there’s a silver lining in there somewhere.

      • 31. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

        like to think silver lining too : )
        @States like MT and NC are just building the case that we are exactly the type of people equal protection protects

    • 32. Peterplumber  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:11 am

      Yeah, it could be a good thing….in the long run.

      • 33. Richard A. Jernigan  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:27 am

        Yes, Peterplumber, it could be a good thing in the long run. But how many of us are going to have to die before we see the results? How many of our youngsters are going to end up as victims of bullicide? I am truly hoping that as these laws continue to spread like this, that more of us will get off our rears and actually get out into the streets in protest marches. No, we don’t necessarily need any violence, but at the very least, we need to get out there and let them know that we are not going to take this lying down, that we are going to stand up, be counted, and run for office ourselves, as well as voting for the ones who are running for office who will actually help advance the cause of civil rights.

  • 34. JPM  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:28 am

    For an extended discussion of these kinds of laws and their constitutionality, with at least one lawyer involved (FogCityJohn), see

    the thread actually begins here:

  • 35. JoeRH  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Why are republicans such sick, fucked up assholes? Kristen Hansen needs every square inch of her fat ass kicked. Bitch.

    • 36. JoeRH  |  February 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      Just saw her picture. WOOF!! I’m changing what I said from “fat” to “fugly.” What a dog! LOL

      • 37. fiona64  |  February 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm

        ::makes note to self not to post photos anywhere, lest I be judged for things I cannot help::

        Do we really have to riff on people because of their looks?

        • 38. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm


        • 39. AnonyGrl  |  February 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm

          Thank you.

        • 40. JoeRH  |  February 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

          I have to tell you: you are the most defensive person I have ever spoken with. I’m making a joke for this woman specifically. I know there are unattractive people out there and I wouldn’t think twice about them. Unfortunately, other than being a bitch, I know nothing about this woman so it was all I could think of. What you should do is just accept that my humor is different from yours (and the other two women who were offended).

          • 41. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

            Hi JoeRH

            You have every right to say, write, think and feel what you want. Just as Fiona, myself and AnonyGrl does.

            I understand you were not writing about others – or even poking fun at ugly individual looks in general – just this hateful Kristen.

            Fiona has her own type of humor. I have no humor at all since everything I write usually comes out wrong – so I try to not add humor at all – lol!

            I was not taking offense to your statement, but giving an AMEN to Fiona’s statement. I hope you understand what I am saying. I am NOT a writer and tend to not have too much logic in what I try to say at times.


  • 42. Joel  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Funny story about Missoula:

    When I was flying, I had a layover in Missoula, and I invited Mark to join me there, as it’s considered one of the better domestic layovers. We had a wonderful time. We stopped into the local bookstore, because someone had purloined my book on the plane. While I was looking for it, Mark struck up a conversation with the guy at the register; he was obviously a member of the tribe. Mark asked if there were any gay bars in town, and the guy told him that, yes, there is one. Just one, and it operates out of the basement of the VFW!

    • 43. Richard A. Jernigan  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

      Well, I happen to know that there are a lot of VFW mambers (and many who are NOT members, but eligible to be members) who are are LGBT. In fact, I am married to one who is eligible for VFW membership! And BZ is also an Eagle Scout!

      • 44. AnonyGrl  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:47 am

        Which brings us back to the fact that even though the policies of a particular group or organization may be anti-gay, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every single member of that group is.

        The various church members we love around here, veterans and now Eagle Scouts and many others show us that.

        Some days, I dislike “people”… the ones who are out to deny rights without knowing a thing about us, or what it means, the ones who DO know what it means, and the ones who are doing it maliciously…

        But then other days I love “people”… the ones who are fighting for our rights simply by saying “Sure, why is this even a question? Everyone should have equal rights”, the ones who do it for loved ones and friends, and the ones who do it just because it is the right thing to do.

        Today, I am loving people who are fighting the good fight. It is a happy place to be.

    • 45. fiona64  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

      Heh. When I was living in Indiana, the local VFW was *the* place to be.

      Which, I think, says a great deal.


  • 46. chris from co  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

    My grandmother works on making me a republican all the time. Bless her heart this is going to make it even harder. I’m going to stay an independent and vote for people who believe in equality.

    • 47. AnonyGrl  |  February 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Perhaps you can use this to show her why she should not be a republican.


      OK… that may be a bit difficult, I understand. But I am glad that you are hanging in there!

    • 48. Rhie  |  February 23, 2011 at 12:10 am

      Oh my parents have tried for years to make me Republican again. Good luck with that.

  • 49. Kathleen  |  February 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

  • 50. L-  |  February 22, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Isn’t this unconstitutional under the Romer precedent?


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