The president of the Big Sky Tea Party Association in Montana has been fired from his position and booted from the party after he posted comments on Facebook implying he condones the hanging of homosexuals.
The Helena Independent Record reported this morning that Tim Ravndal had been removed after the Big Sky Tea Party Association called an emergency meeting to address the situation.
In a Facebook post, dated July 23, Ravndal said that, "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." After a reader responded, "I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions," an apparent reference to the brutal beating of Matthew Shepard in 1998, Ravndal replied, "Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?" Ravndal denies that he was referring to the Shepard case.
“We are extremely disappointed by Mr. Ravndal’s commentary,” wrote Jim Walker, chairman of the association's board, in a statement. “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.
Ravndal's original comments appeared in response to to a Billings Gazette article about an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over rights for same-sex couples
“We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialog, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks,” Walker added. “If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to race, sex, ethnicity, etc. they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone.”