The Montana Tea Party has dumped its
president and booted him from the party over an anti-gay Facebook
The board of the Big Sky Tea Party
Association voted Sunday to removed Tim Ravndal as its president, the
Independent Record reported.
The board said it scheduled an
emergency meeting as soon as it learned about an online exchange
between Ravndal, Keith Baker and Dennis Scranton that implied
Ravndal supports violence against gay men and lesbians.
In the conversation, which was prompted
by Ravndal's posting of a Billings Gazette article about a
Montana gay marriage lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU), the men make reference to the 1998 murder of University
of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die
shackled to a post along a rural road near Laramie because he was
Ravndal says he objects to gay marriage
because it's a “violation of the constitution and my own rights.”
“How dare you exercise your First
Amendment Rights?” Baker replies.
Scranton adds that “fruits” are
decorative and to call “Wyoming for display instructions.”
Ravndal then asks the men, “Where can
I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”
Scranton directs Ravndal to the Gazette
archives and suggests going “back a bit over ten years.”
While the July 23 exchange has since
been removed from the social network, the paper obtained a photo of
the page displaying the comments.
Ravndal commented on the controversy on
his Facebook page: “In sharing news about the ACLU suing Montana on
the gay marriage issue, I made a mistake and commented on a post that
implied that I condone violence against another human being. Nothing
could be farther [sic] from the truth. Those that know me understand
and that is all that matters!”
But there were few supportive comments
to be found in the 283 responses to the post.
“Gee, Tim, it's getting to where a
guy can't casually joke about the brutal murder of a gay person
without people thinking that you find the murder of gay people
funny,” wrote one commenter.
“I think you represent exactly what
the Tea Party is about,” said another. “Racist, bigoted
gay-hating faux patriots.”