I used to imagine that Helena’s Senator Dave Lewis was a mostly harmless, curmudgeonly conservative who was part of what used to be the moderate wing of his party. I excused his quixotic and embarrassing effort to condemn the United Nations using a poorly reasoned and plagiarized John Birch proposal as a political necessity to avoid a right-wing primary challenge. I excused his efforts to defund CHIP as a misguided policy choice rather than seeing it as an ideological crusade against children.
I was wrong. I’m done excusing Senator Lewis’s actions. He is a small-minded bigot whose departure from the Legislature is badly overdue.
Today, Senator Lewis voted, with a handful of his colleagues, against SB 276, which will strike deeply offensive code from the Montana law that makes homosexual sex illegal. The vote is symbolic, given that the Supreme Court has already invalidated the law, but it’s no excuse for Lewis’s vote.
There is no explanation for this retrograde, reactionary vote than bigotry. There’s no excuse for arguing that your colleagues, neighbors and fellow human beings are second class citizens. No excuse.
Senator Lewis, try not to embarrass this community any more during the session. Your views, which might have been fashionable a generation ago in Montana or acceptable today in Uganda, don’t represent the Helena or Montana that both you and I know.
Please just stop. Apologize and reconsider your vote for the third reading. Let’s send the message to the entire nation that Montana rejects bigotry.