Helena, Mont. —The ACLU of Montana today challenged in the Montana Supreme Court the legal sufficiency of a proposed anti-LGBTQ ballot initiative, I-183. The petition argues that the ballot and fiscal impact statements fail to adequately explain the initiative’s discriminatory impacts on transgender individuals and state and local budgets.
“Any description of the true intent of this discriminatory initiative– to prevent transgender individuals from using public facilities that correspond with their gender identity – is entirely absent from the ballot statement,” said Caitlin Borgmann, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana. “In order for Montana voters to cast an intelligent and informed vote they must have clear and accurate information about the Montana Family Foundation’s proposed initiative.”
In addition to the harm the initiative would cause to transgender and gender non-conforming Montanans, the initiative would have dramatic and unpredictable long-term financial impacts to the state.
“This anti-LGBTQ initiative will have serious economic consequences for state and local governments,” explained Alex Rate, Legal Director. “In a year where the state budget is already in dire straits, the initiative would be an unfunded mandate on local governments who would also have to set aside funds for lawsuits seeking emotional distress damages.”
After passing similar legislation, North Carolina’s economy is predicted to lose more than $3.76 billion. I-183’s fiscal impact statement did not address such long-term financial impacts.
In the 2017 Montana legislative session, nearly identical anti-LGBTQ legislation was rejected in committee on a bipartisan vote. Opponents successfully argued, and legislators on both sides of the aisle understood, that the impacts to Montana’s LGBTQ community and to state and local economies would damage the state and did not reflect Montana values.
The State has five days to respond to the ACLU of Montana’s petition.
Caitlin Borgmann, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana, and Alex Rate, Legal Director, are available for interview via phone and in-person in Helena (Caitlin) and Bozeman/Livingston (Alex).