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Montana Rep. insists ‘no homophobic issues here’ as he votes against decriminalizing gay sex

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 13:14 EDT
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Montana state Rep. Dave Hagstrom (R). Photo: Montana State Legislature.
 
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A Montana Republican state representative insisted Tuesday that “there’s no homophobic issues here,” even as he prepared to cast a vote to continue applying felony criminal penalties to LGBT people, simply for being who they are.

Explaining why he planned to vote against SB 107, which seeks to amend the state’s criminal definition of “deviate sexual relations” to exclude homosexual acts, Rep. Dave Hagstrom (R) said he has “a lot of love and respect for a whole number of homosexual friends, so there’s no homophobic issues going on here at all.” Video of his remarks was captured by KXLH-TV.

Although the bill went on to pass the House by a vote of 64 to 36, putting Montana on the brink of finally decriminalizing homosexuality, Hagstrom insisted he could not stand with the majority of his colleagues, mainly because he feels any sex that doesn’t produce a child falls under the category of “deviate sexual relations,” which the state considers a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“I don’t think that homosexual sex is necessarily not deviate,” he said. “Bad word? Deviate simply means it’s not normal, it’s not typical.”

He then held aloft a ballpoint pen, showing it to fellow lawmakers.

“This pen has two purposes,” Hagstrom said. “The first purpose, of course, is to write. The second purpose is to retract, so that it doesn’t leave a stain on your shirt or your purse. So it has two purposes, but one is primary and the other is secondary.”

“To me, sex’s primary purpose is to produce people, that’s why we’re all here,” he went on. “Sex that doesn’t produce people is deviate. That doesn’t mean that it’s a problem. It just means it’s not doing its primary purpose. So I’m just speaking to the bill and I encourage people to vote red.”

Hagstrom’s definition of “deviate” is even broader than the law a majority of his colleagues voted to modernize, suggesting he would support adding heterosexual sex acts that do not produce children to a list of criminalized behaviors.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan noted as much last month, during an oral argument against sex sex marriage. The Obama appointee sparked a wave of laughter from the audience when she exclaimed: “I can just assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage.”

Hagstrom did not respond to a request for comment.

Although SB 107 cleared the House Tuesday, it still has to overcome a second vote before moving on to the governor’s desk and becoming law. And while the bill will finally remove being gay from the definition of “deviate sexual relations,” it’s mostly a formality. Technically, “sodomy” has been legal everywhere in the U.S. since the Supreme Court’s 1997 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.

To watch Tuesday’s full House debate, click here.

This video is from KXLH-TV, filmed Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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