The time is long overdue for Montana to catch up with the rest of the world on one of the fastest changing issues in the arena of public opinion in recent memory.

Still on the books in Montana is a law that criminalizes gay sex; this despite the fact that the U.S. military has OK’d the enlistment of openly gay and lesbian soldiers; this despite the fact that such laws have been repealed or struck down by the courts in every state – including Montana, where the law was declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in 1997 – and this despite the fact that nine states, the District of Columbia and two Native American tribes now recognize gay marriage.

In his inaugural address last week, President Barack Obama used the word “gay” for the first time in history when he called for the equal treatment of gays and lesbians under the law. He did so in the recognition that a majority of Americans favor gay rights, including a solid majority of Americans favoring legalizing gay marriage – by some 58 percent in the most recent polls. That’s a big change from just 10 years ago.

These shifts in policy and opinion reflect a substantial and growing tolerance among Americans for gay rights. Gays and lesbians are engaged in relationships and raising families that promote the same things that we all do – constructive careers, the power of education and equal justice for all.

The least we can do as Montanans is repeal this archaic law.

State Senate Bill 107, carried by Missoula Democrat Sen. Tom Facey would remove from state law the language that makes homosexuality a crime, language that has already been struck down by the state’s highest court.

This law deserves passage and should be signed into law by Gov. Steve Bullock.

It will make an important statement about all of us. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue.