By Ian Powell-Palm
I come bearing sad news, Montana.
As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, Montana’s least favorite New Jerseyan has once again decided to rear his ugly policy stances. This time it’s Ryan Zinke’s recently vacated House seat that Greg Gianforte is after and he’ll be going up against Democratic nominee and Montanan legend Rob Quist. Despite losing in the gubernatorial race to Democratic incumbent Steve Bullock last fall, Gianforte has shown up again in the Montanan political scene with renewed zest and enthusiasm to exert his will and his wealth over every Montanan within his reach.
The day after his nomination, he received $700,000 dollars from the GOP super PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund, and it looks like Gianforte is ready to sink another five million of his own dollars into television and radio ads in an effort to buy Montana’s vote before May 25th just as he attempted to do in the gubernatorial race. Already he’s begun attacking his opponent Quist, attempting to skew his words and appeal to a broad base of Montanans on issues he has little to no comprehension of.
But before we get too far into this race, let’s remember something about good ‘ol Greg: he’s a known homophobe with a horribly dark history of donating to anti-LGBTQ hate groups such as:
– The New Jersey Family Policy Council: a group from Greg’s own New Jersey that specializes in encouraging and carrying out electric shock conversion therapy against LGBTQ minors despite studies that such treatments are highly detrimental to recipient’s mental health. The NJFPC has received 37,500 dollars from the Gianforte Family Foundation and is also designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
–Family Research Council: designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FRC has long claimed that homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia and should be treated as such. FRC figurehead Robert Knight said in 1999, “Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.” The FRC has received 14,000 dollars in donations from the Gianforte Family Foundation under Greg Gianforte and his wife’s name.
– Alliance Defending Freedom: an organization that actively promotes and funds the enforcement of anti-sodomy laws in countries like India, Belize, and Jamaica. Alliance Defending Freedom is another example of an anti-LGBTQ hate group as designated by the SPLC. The group has avidly fought against anti-bullying measures put in place to protect LGBTQ youth and students, maintaining the belief that homosexual and trans students can be “cured” through the proper methods of “treatment.” The group has received 58,500 dollars from Gianforte’s foundation.
There are countless other groups guilty of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that Gianforte has contributed to over the years including a group local to Montana, the Montana family Foundation, which has received over $518,000 dollars from Gianforte. All in all, Gianforte has given 1.1 million dollars to anti-gay organizations across the nation. 1.1 million dollars. That’s chump change to this guy. This is genuinely what this man believes in. Perhaps he sees it as his mission to make miserable the lives of everyone with a different gender identify than the one they were born with or sexual orientation than him.
Did Greg really think that Montanan’s were going to forget this from the last time he ran? Did he somehow think that running a second time would wipe his slate clean? On the contrary. Although Governor Bullock did a wonderful job hitting on this subject last fall, it’s vital at this time to let Gianforte know that Montana is not quite as bigoted as he and the GOP would like to think. A recent poll conducted by the Public Policy Polling found that sixty-two percent of Montana voters believed in marriage equality. Again, this goes to show that we’re not as black and white as Greg would like us to be. 2.6 percent, or 26,000, of Montanans identity as LGBTQ. These are peoples who will assuredly suffer under Gianforte’s prejudice and influence. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members, our children, our teachers, our students, our coworkers, ect. Think about this: the mentality that Gianforte’s actions allow puts Montanan LGBTQ youth in even greater amounts of danger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth who have faced high levels of rejection from family and friends are:
These are folks who will assuredly suffer under Gianforte’s prejudice and influence. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members, our children, our teachers, our students, our coworkers.
Think about this: the mentality that Gianforte’s actions allow puts Montanan LGBTQ youth in even greater amounts of danger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth who have faced high levels of rejection from family and friends are:
- Six times more likely than their peers to experience depression
- More than 8 times as likely to commit suicide
- More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs
- More than 3 times as likely to engage in unprotected sexual behaviors that put them at increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
I have grown up with the most caring, attentive group of LGBTQ friends anyone could ask for. What Montanan LGBTQ youth like my friends and LGBTQ adults don’t need right now are vicious, coordinated attacks against their persons by those in power. There’s already enough of that in the current presidential administration. Greg Gianforte has made it abundantly clear how he feels about those persons who conflict with his faith. The men, women, and children of Montana deserve someone better than an extreme homophobe with a would be theocratic agenda.
This is a man that has proudly attached his political wagon to the Trump train. This is a man who has let his religion and personal beliefs dictate his political moves ever since his failed bid at becoming Governor of Montana. This is a man who openly and proudly supports groups who link homosexuality to pedophilia, wish to persecute LGBTQ persons worldwide, and make gay marriage illegal. There’s a saying that I’ve heard being circulated around Montana more and more ever since Trump’s inauguration: no hate in our state. Greg Gianforte is the definition of hate.
He is the definition of bias against persons who just want to live their lives in peace and not be attacked constantly by the Christian right. I’ve heard a number of Montanans express outrage at Vice President Mike Pence’s support of conversion therapy against LGBTQ minors in his home state of Indiana. Greg Gianforte is no different. Does Montana want a Mike Pence look alike representing our values in Congress? Do we want a man who believes in and contributes to hatred? The fight to make sure every Montanan feels welcome in their state has been long and uphill.
We cannot let this progress be impeded on by an ideologue like Gianforte. This man has no right to represent Montana. In this day and age, Montanans cannot afford to dismiss Gianforte’s actions. He’s shown us his true colors long before now. It’s up to us all now to respond. Vote Rob Quist for Congress on May 25th. Vote for integrity and empathy. In this age of Donald Trump, let’s keep hate out of our state once and for all.