Bathroom bill thrusts Montana into national LGBTQ debate

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HELENA, MONT. (AP) – Montana’s chief economic development officer warned Thursday of dire consequences if lawmakers entangle the state in the national debate about the use of bathrooms by transgender people.

Ken Fichtler, the governor’s chief adviser on economic development, pointed to North Carolina as a prime example of the negative repercussions that could arise over who can legally use gender-specific bathrooms.

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Montana House Committee tables LGBTQ rights bill

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) – A legislative committee has tabled a bill that sought to extend civil rights protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people across the state.

The House Judiciary Committee heard emotional testimony last week from citizens who said they’d been discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or sexual identity, while opponents said the bill infringed on their religious expression rights.

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Bid to extend protections to Montana LGBTQs stirs emotions

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HELENA, Mont. (AP)- Advocates launched a new bid Wednesday to extend non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across Montana – undeterred by a long string of prior legislative defeats.

Proponents this time argue that extending protections would be good for Montana’s business climate.

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Sex offender pleads not guilty to rape charge

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aliea-rose-brownBOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) – A transgender registered sex offender has pleaded not guilty to charges that allege she had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 28-year-old Aliea Rose Brown of Manhattan appeared in District Court in Bozeman Dec. 5 and pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

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Montana elector under fire for anti-gay comments

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elector-dennis-scrantonBILLINGS (AP) — A 92-year-old man casting one of Montana’s electoral votes has been criticized for his comments about gay people.

The Billings Gazette reports that elector Dennis Scranton suggested in a 2010 Facebook conversation that gay people should be hanged.

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LGBT-rights group urges Guam governor to allow gay marriage

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HAGATNA, Guam (AP) – The nation’s largest gay rights organization and Guam’s biggest newspaper are blasting the territory’s governor for not allowing marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples.

Guam’s attorney general on April 15 said government officials should begin issuing licenses after a lesbian couple filed a federal lawsuit because they were denied a marriage application. But state officials, backed by the governor, refused the attorney general’s directive because it wasn’t a binding legal opinion. Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said lawmakers or the public could change the law to allow same-sex marriage, if that was their will.

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Democrats try to bring gay protection, other tabled bills to Senate and House floors

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HELENA, Montana — Democrats on Feb. 16 tried unsuccessfully to “blast” four tabled bills to the Senate and House floors, including one that would ban discrimination against gay people.

With a full gallery of supporters, Sen. Christine Kaufmann, of Helena, attempted to get Senate Bill 179 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was tabled in January. A blast motion allows lawmakers the chance to bring tabled bills out of committee if at least 26 of 50 senators agree to it. She asked that the bill be put to a vote on the Senate floor Wednesday.

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Montana same-sex couples exchange vows after ban tossed

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Gay couples have begun exchanging vows at county courthouses in Montana a day after a federal judge threw out the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Among the first were Randi Paul and Jill Houk of Billings. They wed Nov. 20 in a hallway at the Yellowstone County Courthouse just minutes after paying $53 for a marriage license.

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Federal judge rules Montana’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge in Montana on Nov. 19 overturned the state’s gay marriage ban.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled that Montana’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

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Montana parishioners meet with bishop over gay couple

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) – A Roman Catholic bishop says a central Montana parish is about evenly divided over a new priest’s decision to prohibit a gay couple from receiving Communion unless they divorce, live separately and write a statement affirming that a marriage is between a man and a woman.

Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings met Sept. 20 with about 300 parishioners of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, where he also led a Mass. About half the parishioners supported the Rev. Samuel Spiering’s decision, while the other half were very angry, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

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Montana city rejects non-discrimination ordinance

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – The Billings City Council has rejected an ordinance to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Billings Gazette reports the council’s decision came early Aug. 12, with Mayor Tom Hanel casting the deciding vote.

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Four couples suing over Montana’s gay marriage ban

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HELENA, Montana (AP) – Four gay couples are suing the northwestern state of Montana over its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, making its neighbors North Dakota and South Dakota the only two states with similar bans and no lawsuits seeking to overturn them.

The Dakotas might not hold that distinction for long: a lesbian couple in South Dakota said they also plan to challenge their state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the coming days, along with a provision in federal law that lets states avoid recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere. Their attorney said he’s contemplating filing a lawsuit in North Dakota, too.

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