Bill protecting discriminatory speech gets green light (copy)


Sen. Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, invoked the word “freedom” seven times on Tuesday as he spoke in front of the Montana Senate to advocate for a bill that would protect free speech and religious expression, even if it’s judged to be discriminatory hate speech by a licensing association or board, in the real estate industry and other licensed professions.

House Bill 443 would “prohibit discrimination based on the free exercise of religion or the freedom of speech and expression in the real estate industry and other licensed professions or occupations.” It would also prohibit the investigation of a complaint against a licensed professional for unprofessional conduct based on the licensed professional’s speech. The bill passed the House and second reading in the Senate and is likely on its way to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk for a signature or veto.

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The bill was brought forward in the Republican-controlled Legislature largely in reaction to an incident when a Clinton pastor and former Missoula real estate agent, Brandon Huber, violated the National Association of Realtors ethics code over accusations of homophobic hate speech.

Initially, in summer 2021 Huber withdrew his

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