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Montana Man Gay Bashed - on His Birthday

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday August 8, 2012

A 22-year-old gay man from Montana says he was beaten outside a nightclub on his birthday last weekend because he is gay, the Montana newspaper the Missoulian reported.

The man was attacked outside of the Missoula Club, in Missoula, Montana's second-largest city, located in the western part of the state.

Missoula Police Lt. Scott Brodie said the man told authorities he was beaten because he is gay. The man also said he asked patrons at the club about the location of a gay bar that was close by when someone asked him to step outside for a cigarette. The man said someone then hit him and then two other people assaulted him as well.

Although the Missoulian did not identify the alleged victim, the Wipe Out Homophobiak Facebook page reports the man's first name is "Joseph." The website also points out that the attackers yelled anti-gay slurs, like "faggot," at him during the beating.

"PLEASE join us in wishing Joseph a happy birthday and a speedy recovery. Nobody deserves this, especially not just because of your sexuality. Stay strong Joseph, half a million of us are on your side xxx," the Wipe Out Homophobia post reads.

A photo of "Joseph" is posted and shows the man's face, which is covered in cuts and bruises. The group is also organizing an event called "Proposition Gay Downtown Missoula Pub Crawl" on Aug. 31 and says, "We are encouraging gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual people (and their straight friends) to show up en masse at any and all Missoula downtown bars on Friday, August 31, to raise awareness while having a rockin' good time!"

James Greer of the Montana Human Rights Network said Missoula citizens have a "profound and meaningful" reaction when someone from the LGBT community is attacked.

"It sends a message that some people are not welcome and that anyone in that group can be the next target. ... It's more than just one person being beaten up. It's about targeting and silencing an entire community, and it has got to change."

Montana's hate crime laws do not protect individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, the state does not recognize same-sex marriage due to a 2004 constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. There are, however, discrimination laws that protect individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The incident sparked state Rep. Ellie Hill (D), to introduce a bill that would add sexual orientation to the bias crime laws in Montana in the January 2013 legislative session.

"It's time, regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on," she said. "What occurred over the weekend in Missoula evidences it."