A reader writes:
This gay Montanan agrees with your dissenter. The only way we would get protection as LGBT people in this state is if it is granted federally. I have personally witnessed the bigotry and violence of living in this beautiful place. I've also been a part of significant change here. However, I personally have known at least three young men and women who have been beaten because of perceived sexual orientation in the last 6 months. I am all for trying to change the system from within, but I don't want to have to look into the face of another battered youth while we wait.
I must say that this kind of testimony affects me. How could it not? But Wyoming had no hate crimes law and still put Matthew Shepard's murderers away for life. I don't doubt this bill will pass. I will be very interested if it is ever used. Another reader writes:
As a native Montanan, I can say that Montana is very much a libertarian-leaning state: “You stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours.” Montana is backward in a lot of ways (hence the fact that I live elsewhere now) but to assume that because it is a big, rectangular state the people there are more likely to commit hate crimes is just absurd.