The 2013 Legislative Session was a busy time for the ACLU of Montana as we defended civil liberties, advocated for criminal justice reform, fought attempts to impose religious instruction upon public school students and stood up for your privacy.
We scored major victories for privacy rights, garnering passage of bills to prohibit strip and body cavity searches without a warrant for misdemeanor offenses and prohibiting the use of warrantless aerial drone surveillence in court. We successfully fought off a bill that would have mandated "Scarlet Letter" license plates for DUI offenders.
While the ACLU of Montana and its allies were unable to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the protected classes in the Montana Human Rights Act, we were finally able to get the offensive code defining gay sex as "deviate sexual conduct" removed from the books.
Public school students were the target of legislators who sought to impose their own religious views on instruction, but the ACLU was able to defeat bills to allow instructors to teach creationism and to provide a tax credit for parochial education. Another bill to require parental permission for public school students to receive sex education also failed.
Your voting rights were also under attack, but we worked hard to defeat bills to impose increased and unnecessary proof of identity requirements and to eliminate same-day voter registration, and they ultimately failed. Unfortunately, the elimination of same-day voter registration was pushed through in the form of a legislative referendum, which will be in front of voters in 2014.
Unfortunately, we were not able to prevail in our efforts to end Montana's death penalty or to make changes to the draconian medical marijuana restrictions imposed by the 2011 Legislature.