Montana Senate Panel Fails Its Own "Add the Words" Bill

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The line to testify before the Montana Legislature was drastically shorter than the line in Boise on Jan. 26. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • The line to testify before the Montana Legislature was drastically shorter than the line in Boise on Jan. 26.
While many of Idaho's constituents are still reeling from last week's failure of the "Add the Words" bill in the House State Affairs Committee, Montana's state legislature came to a similar conclusion on Friday.

Unlike the three days of testimony and another morning of debate and discussion among committee members in Boise, Montana lawmakers heard testimony, voted against and tabled a bill that would provide protection for gay, lesbian and transgender people in the state, according to the Missoulian.

The bill was originally introduced by Sen. Christine Kaufmann of Helena, an openly lesbian Democrat who told her fellow lawmakers that the law needs to reflect the changes in the world. 

"This is adding to the human rights law people who are experiencing discrimination," Kaufmann said. "It does not take liberties away from people."

Just like in Idaho, the measure in Montana would have added the words "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the state's Human Rights Act, protecting members of the LGBT community from discrimination in housing and employment. Just like in Idaho, many supporters and opponents lined up to testify—using many of the same arguments against discrimination and for business freedom.

"I can love them but not bake them a wedding cake," said one woman who was against the bill.

And just like in Idaho, the bill failed along party lines by a 7-5 vote in the Republican-led committee. But unlike Idaho, where testimony lasted 22 hours, the Montana committee only heard two hours of testimony from the public before making the decision.