Best Savior of an Otherwise Hopeless Montana Legislature

Staff Pick

On April 9, Rep. Duane Ankney choked back tears while delivering a speech on the floor of the Montana House. The Republican from Colstrip hadn’t planned to address his colleagues, but as they deliberated the merits of continuing to keep a toothless law on the books that equated gay sex to bestiality, he simply thought to himself, “Enough is enough.”

What followed was the type of powerful speech usually reserved for an Aaron Sorkin drama. Ankney’s voice shook as he announced to his colleagues that his daughter is a lesbian. “To say she is any less of a person, or she is a criminal for her lifestyle, really upsets me. And for anybody that would feel that way—upsets me,” Ankney said, pointing at the other lawmakers. “I don’t think God thinks any less of my daughter than he does of any one of you in here.”

Nine days after Ankney testified, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 107 into law in the Capitol Rotunda, finally striking the hateful language from record. Gay rights advocates distributed T-shirts featuring a photo of the unlikely ally with his walrus mustache and 10-gallon hat, marking a fitting honor for one of the few bright spots in another frustrating legislative session.

  • Duane Ankney
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