Tea party chief in Montana removed after anti-gay Facebook remark

The Big Sky Tea Party Association's board of directors removed the organization's president, Tim Ravndal, after he posted a Facebook comment that seemed to condone violence against homosexuals.

Saul LOEB/ AFP/ Newscom
Betty Byrd Boatner (C), sister of James Byrd, Jr., and Judy Shepard (L), mother of Matthew Shepard, stand with US President Barack Obama in honor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. In 1998, Shepard was murdered because he was gay.

The Big Sky Tea Party Association's board of directors has removed the organization's president for an exchange on his Facebook page that appeared to condone violence against homosexuals.

Board member Roger Nummerdor says Tim Ravndal also has been kicked out of the Montana organization.

The board's vote Sunday came after members learned of the online conversation that began with a comment about an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over rights for same-sex couples.

The conversation between Ravndal and another man appears to reference the 1998 death of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and tied to a fence post. Police said Shepard was attacked because he was gay.

Ravndal apologized for the July 23 post.

Heading into Montana's 2010 elections, Republicans have a 27-23 lead in the state Senate. In the House is tied 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

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