Montana Street Fighter recently wrote about Senator Jason Priest (R – Red Lodge) and his efforts to gut Title X funding from the Montana state health budget in an attempt to cripple and, eventually, eliminate Planned Parenthood of Montana. Senator Priest was apparently offended that anyone would have the audacity to point out that he was stripping life saving healthcare services from thousands of low-income Montanans.
On Sunday evening, Priest left a lengthy comment here on Montana Street Fighter. The bulk of his comment did not address his attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. Instead, Priest proclaimed that he was not a homophobe.
Priest claims that he’s not a homophobe because he is “friends with gay people.” That is the equivalent of saying, “I’m not racist – I have black friends.”
The truth is that Priest has a long and distressing record when it comes to homophobia.
Most Montanans became familiar with Priest’s abhorrent homophobia when he posted offensive slurs on Facebook. While running for the Senate, Priest referred to economist John Keynes as “a big homo” and said that Democrats were giving Americans “the dry thumb.”
Priest later apologized. However, many progressives viewed the apology as empty. Matt Singer of Left in the West wrote, “Sorry, Jason, this doesn’t hack it as an apology. Sorry if anyone was offended? Be an adult. Take some responsibility.”
Kim Abbott of the Montana Human Rights Network responded to Priest’s comments by saying, “When someone who is running for elective office is using anti-gay slurs and questionable judgment about what they say in the public sphere—and I think we can all agree that new media is public—it’s problematic.”
During the last legislative session, Senator Priest earned a 13% on the Montana Human Rights Network’s legislative scorecard. Priest supported legislation that was aimed specifically at protecting bigots while limiting LGBT rights.
More recently, as Montana Street Fighter reported, Priest helped pass a motion aimed at gutting Planned Parenthood of Montana. Planned Parenthood is one of the only affordable health care centers that provides hormonal treatments for transgender clients. In addition to providing essential services to the transgender community, Planned Parenthood offers health education, resources, and service referrals to the entire LGBT community.
When Priest attacks Planned Parenthood he is not only attacking women and girls, he is attacking LGBT Montanans.
Priest may be friends with members of the LGBT community, but he certainly does not respect them or see them as equals. Simply being in a gay comedy troupe doesn’t mean you’re not anti-gay, as Priest would have you believe.
Jason Priest’s participation in a gay comedy troupe is important because it is the highest form of hypocrisy. Priest is treated as an equal on stage, but refuses to extend even the most basic rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Montanans.