Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed State Bill 107 Thursday, effectively decriminalizing homosexual acts in his state. Homosexuality had been unlawful since the first Montana Territorial Legislature adopted it as part of their criminal code in 1865.
According to the Associated Press, the code has not been used to prosecute anyone for years, and the state Supreme Court ruled the language unconstitutional in 1997. Though more symbolic than functional, the act of striking the language from the state’s code was a necessary one, according to Bullock.
“I am not going to speak too long because, frankly, the longer I talk, the longer this embarrassing and unconstitutional law stays on the books.” Bullock told the AP.
The bill passed the Montana house with a 64-35 vote and cleared the Senate 38-11. According to the AP, Republicans and Democrats alike advanced the legislation in both instances -- a trend local gay rights activists hope will carry on to future legislation.