Anti-Gay Montana Lawmaker A Lesbian?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday April 22, 2011

A proposed law in the state of Montana would have taken away the rights of municipalities to establish anti-discrimination ordinances for GLBTs if it had passed earlier this year. Now online reports allege that the bill's sponsor, Republican State Rep. Kristin Hanson, is a closeted lesbian.

GLBT blog JoeMyGod reported in an April 19 posting that a "very trusted tipster" had alerted him to Hanson's alleged status as a closeted lesbian.

"She lives with a woman who she introduces to others as her 'friend' but has confirmed to a handful of people is her partner," the tipster claimed. "The partner's ex has also been telling people what's up."

JoeMyGod noted that Hanson was elected in the midterm elections as a Tea Party-backed GOP candidate. The bill was prompted by a single Montana city--the university town of Missoula--enacting just such protections.

"According to my source, Hansen will be outed at an upcoming meeting of University of Montana students," JoeMyGod added.

As previously reported at EDGE, Hanson's bill would have taken GLBT non-discrimination laws out of the purview of local governments by outlawing such ordinances by cities. State Rep. Michael Morre offered a tangled rationale for the measure.

"You introduce things in one city, you can do things differently in another city, you can do things in another town differently from that. If that is what you want, if you want to go down the road that can ultimately lead to one place then sure let's not pass this ordinance," said Morre. "But we need, this is what we do in here, we try to put things into the context of the whole."

A similar sentiment in Colorado two decades ago led to Amendment 2, the notorious anti-gay constitutional amendment that voters ratified in response to municipalities instituting protections for GLBT residents. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the amendment in 1996. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals twice reaffirmed a virtually identical amendment adopted by the city of Cincinnati and applied to the city's charter in 1993. Cincinnati residents themselves struck the amendment to the city charter in 2004.

Montana's House Judiciary Committee indicated support for the state law barring city protections for GLBTs on Feb. 21, reported ABC on Feb. 22. The same panel opposed a proposal to include GLBTs in existing anti-discrimination laws that apply to race and religion.

The article reported that Democratic members of the State House objected, partially on the grounds that Republican State Representatives were applying a double standard, demanding state's rights and less interference from the federal government, but proving unwilling to allow municipalities to determine their own policies with regard to gays.

Truth Wins Out, an organization set up to counter organizations promoting so-called "reparative therapy," posted news of the JoeMyGod story at its web site on April 19.

"How refreshing! A self-loathing Republican lesbian," one reader at the Truth Wins Out posting commented.

"Bad enough the straight bigots, but when our own join in, it is heartbreaking indeed," a second wrote in.

"I hate to sound petty but the idea of outing Teabaggers makes me giddy," a third chimed in.

The phenomenon of closeted homosexual politicians who pursue anti-gay laws is well documented. Outrage, a 2009 film by Kirby Dick, tackled the subject, addressing the lives and voting records of a number of politicians who either had emerged from the closet or were rumored to be gay.

Just over a year ago, anti-gay California State Sen. Roy Ashburn was arrested for DUI after leaving a gay club. Another man was with him in the vehicle at the time. Ashburn subsequently came out as gay and said that his record did not necessarily reflect his own beliefs as much as those of his constituents.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.