Montana lawmakers considered a pair of familiar gay rights measures Tuesday, one that would strike an obsolete state law that criminalizes gay sex and another that would expand anti-discrimination protections. The state Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal that repeals an anti-gay law ruled unconstitutional in 1997 by the Montana Supreme Court. The state’s deviate sexual relations law still makes illegal “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex.” Democrats argued Tuesday that it is time to remove the hurtful language from the statutes, even if it is not enforceable. The Senate backed the plan 38-10 in an initial vote. “I have chosen Montana as my home for the last 30 years because it feeds my spirit. But there is one thing that grieves my spirit and that is this law on the books that says I am a felon,” said state Sen. Christine Kaufmann, a Helena Democrat who is a lesbian. “It says I deserve to be in prison for 10 years for making a family with the woman I love.” No one spoke in opposition of the bill, and it passed with little fanfare by a chamber that would clearly like to stop debating a bill that returns to the Legislature every session.
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