Two years ago today, marriage equality was recognized in Montana. The ACLU of Montana couldn’t be more proud to have brought the lawsuit, Rolando vs State of Montana, that was a part of the fight for marriage equality, but the real heroes are the plaintiffs in the case.
These four couples shared their lives with the public – and a courtroom -- to fight for LGBT rights in Montana. Our plaintiffs fought against the rhetoric and hate for legal recognition of their relationships. Their bravery and actions changed the lives for LGBT people across the state.
On this anniversary, not only is it time to celebrate our past successes but to remember that the LGBT fight for full legal recognition does not end at marriage equality.
We still have more work to do. Despite marriage equality now being legal across the United States, inadequate legal protections remain for LGBT people. It is still legal in Montana and 25 other states to legally fire a person for being LGBT. Only five Montana cities (Missoula, Helena, Butte, Bozeman, and Whitefish) have passed nondiscrimination ordinances, which prevents discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Billings, Montana’s largest city, recently scored an 18 out of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index due to its lack of a nondiscrimination ordinance, the city not offering equivalent protections to its LGBT employees, and leadership not having pro-equality policy efforts.
The legislative session starts January 2nd and, as always, we will support pro-equality bills that give LGBT Montanans the rights, dignity, and equality they deserve. Unfortunately, we are also preparing for attacks, especially against or trans* community members. At least one legislator has publically pledged to introduce legislation that will discriminate against transgender kids, forcing them into bathrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity, decreasing their safety and further marginalizing them at school. A bill like this would send the message to trans children and their peers that trans children should be treated unfairly. Not only are bills like this harmful to transgender students, they are a violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The ACLU of Montana will stand against any legislation that targets the transgender community. No one should live in fear because of their gender identity.
The ACLU of Montana will continue advocating for LGBT Montanans just like we did for marriage equality. Our fight is not over and you can help! Sign up to receive Action Alerts to be the first to know about LGBT issues in the Legislature and get updates on other work the ACLU of Montana is doing.