September 7, 2010 at 11:21 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Mont. Tea Party cans chief for making anti-gay comments

A Tea Party organization in Montana has removed its president after he made comments on Facebook that implied he supports bias-motivated violence against gays.

The Montana-based Independent Record reported on Tuesday that the Big Sky Tea Party Association removed its president Tim Ravndal after anti-gay comments he made received media attention last week.

Jim Walker, board for the Tea Party group, reportedly said in a statement that the board called for an emergency meeting as soon as they learned of Ravndal’s remarks.

“We are extremely disappointed by Mr. Ravndal’s commentary,” Walker reportedly said. “The discussion in that Facebook conversation is entirely outside the position of the Big Sky Tea Party. Even though Mr. Ravndal was having a personal conversation and made no reference to our group, we felt strongly that swift and decisive action was required as we cannot accept that sort of behavior from within our membership, let alone from an officer of the corporation.”

The comments that Ravndal made on July 23 were in response to a link to an article about an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit in Montana seeking rights for same-sex couples.

Although Ravndal’s comments have since been removed from Facebook, a widely circulated photo has preserved his remarks as well as the remarks of others in the conversation thread:

They read:

Tim Ravndal: “Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the constitution and my own rights”

Keith Baker: “How dare you exercise your First Amendment Rights?”

Dennis Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”

Tim Ravndal: “@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this aint America no more! @Dennis, Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”

Dennis Scranton: “Should be able to get info Gazette archives. Maybe even an illustration. Go back a bit over ten years.”

The comments reference the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a college student who was killed in a hate crime near Laramie, Wyo., because of his sexual orientation.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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