Sneed Collard

Dear Governor Gianforte,

I am writing to urge you to veto the slate of hate- and prejudice-filled bills bounding out of the current Montana state legislature.

You doubtless are familiar with the current war being waged by your colleagues against trans and gay youth. I have to give these Republican legislators credit. They are using a tried-and-true playbook that predates even pre-war Germany.

It goes like this: in a bid for total power, first vilify, attack, and disenfranchise the most powerless, vulnerable members of society. Then, broaden your attacks to include anyone else who may oppose you—or who isn’t like you. In Montana’s case, these new laws are couched in terms of “protecting youth” and allowing people to follow their conscience in denying medical care—both of which sound reasonable.

You and I both know, however, that they are nothing more than a ploy to institutionalize discrimination, ignorance, and bigotry.

You seem like a fairly reasonable person—one who is concerned with his legacy as governor. Ask yourself, do you want to be known as the man who allowed fundamentalist extremism to rule in Montana? Do you want to be the guy that allowed zealots to come into peoples’ homes and tell them what by law they had to believe and how they had to behave? Do you want to be the man who took away parental choice in how we raise our kids and the values we teach them? Do you want to be the governor who allowed extremists to, at will, deny reasonable health care to people because it, ahem, “violated their conscience”?

I don’t think you do. And, remarkably, you now have a chance to create a true legacy—one of compassion and concern for all Montanans, not just those with rigid, narrow, ignorant belief systems.

Trans and gay youth are among the most vulnerable in society already. They endure horrendous abuse by their peers and adults. Not surprisingly, they also suffer shockingly high rates of mental anguish and turmoil. And yet, whether they realize it or not, almost every family has at least one gay and/or trans youth—even the families of legislators who push the hate-filled bills landing on your desk.

You have a unique opportunity both to protect our state’s most vulnerable, and to restore hope for true equality and respect in our state. I implore you to veto MT HB 234, 303, 359, 361, and all of the other twisted bills coming before you. You may have to endure some rebukes from fellow Republicans, but you know as well as I do that it won’t impact you in coming elections.

My guess is that showing resolve and fairness on these issues will hugely benefit you at the polls. Even better, you’ll be able to take satisfaction in doing the right thing at a time when that was a difficult thing to do.


Sneed Collard