In response to efforts by the Montana Family Foundation to push an anti-transgender ballot measure that would bar transgender people from using public facilities like bathrooms or locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity, the ACLU and the ACLU of Montana filed a petition challenging the legal sufficiency of the description of the proposed anti-trans ballot initiative (I-183) that would go to the voters. The petition argued that the ballot and fiscal impact statements inaccurately characterize the initiative – hiding both its discriminatory effect and its impact on local and state budgets. The Supreme Court of Montana agreed, ordering the Attorney General to revise both statements.
Now, individual Montanans and Montana cities, represented by the ACLU and the ACLU of Montana, have filed a law suit challenging the ballot initiative itself. If it becomes law, I-183 would deprive transgender people across the state of their rights under the Montana constitution, including the rights to privacy, dignity, and equality. It would also infringe on the ability of cities to protect the rights of their citizens, and subject cities to law suits if they failed the impossible, and unlawful, task of enforcement.
The ballot initiative is similar to efforts to exclude transgender people from public space that have been proposed by a number of state legislatures. If passed, the initiative would prevent transgender Montanans from using any public bathroom consistent with their gender identity, endangering them and forcing them out of public schools, jobs, parks, and libraries. According to the Montana Office of Budget and Program Planning, I-183 could also cost state and local government, including public universities, billions of dollars.
Victory! Because I-183 did not qualify for the ballot, this case has now ended.
Montana Eighth Judicial District Court
Supreme Court (Mont.)