Amanda Curtis on Civil Rights
First-term state Rep. Amanda Curtis, 34, is a high school math teacher in Butte who won the endorsements of Montana's teachers union for her opposition to charter schools as well as the Montana Sportsmen Alliance before Saturday's party convention in Helena. Democrats are hoping her outspoken support for labor unions and women's rights will energize the campaign against U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.
Curtis sponsored several bills that didn't make it through Montana's Republican-controlled statehouse. Among them was legislation to increase the mandatory percentage of Montana workers hired for state public works projects. Contractors, especially in the energy industry, opposed the measure.
Analysis by The Atlantic: Under Montana's state legislation, gay sex, [before this bill, was] a felony punishable with up to 10 years in jail and a $50,000 fine. SB 107 would change the definition of "deviate sexual relations" in the state--a full 16 years after the state Supreme Court ruled that the language criminalizing gay sex as unconstitutional--and no longer lump in gay sex as the same kind of crime as having sex with an animal.
The bloc of 36 Republicans want to keep the law in place: "Sex that doesn't produce people is deviant," says Rep. Dave Hagstrom. Rep. Jerry O'Neil, who also voted against the bill, said. "If some 2nd-grade teacher wants to introduce her lover to the kids, there isn't anything that the school board can do to stop that."
Legislative Outcome: Passed Senate 38-11-1 on Feb/20/13; Passed House 64-35-1 on Apr/10/13; State Rep. Amanda Curtis voted YES; Signed by Governor Steve Bullock on A
"The good news," according to Curtis, is that that the bill--designed to repeal a law that targets gay individuals--will move forward in the state House after a 60-38 vote. "The bad news is that there are 38 people in the House who think that's how their district wants them to vote, or they are not listening to their district and believe so strongly that gays should be felons that they have a moral obligation to keep it that way."
Curtis said it was hard for her to hold herself back from walking "across the floor" during debate on the bill in order to "punch" her colleague, state Rep. Krayton Kerns, who "insinuated that if you are gay you do not have a moral character." In 1997, the state Supreme Court ruled that the 40-year-old ban on sodomy was unconstitutional, but the state legislature has yet to repeal the statute.
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Susan Good Geise
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