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CONTACT: Katie Beall media@aclumontana.org ǀ 406-203-3374

July 12, 2017

A coalition of ten organizations today submitted comments urging Attorney General Tim Fox to find that a proposed anti-transgender ballot initiative deliberately targets Montana’s LGBTQ community, is legally insufficient, and would violate Montanans’ constitutional rights.

The Coalition for Dignity and Safety, a coalition of organizations fighting for the rights of Montana’s LGBT community, oppose the ballot initiative  (The Montana Locker Room Privacy Act or MLRPA) which misleads voters with its ballot language and strikes at the fundamental rights of fairness, equality and dignity of all Montanans and, particularly, attacks the humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming Montanans.

“Montanans want to live their lives with dignity and safety and they want that for their neighbors, too,” said Shawn Reagor of the Montana Human Rights Network. “Policies like this are unnecessary, unenforceable, and discriminate against transgender people. This policy will have serious unintended consequences that will harm our state.”

The MLRPA erases Montanans’ constitutional rights in exchange for legalized discrimination.  These rights include: the right to individual privacy, Montana’s equal protection clause, the right to individual dignity, the right to due process, and the right to freedom of religion.

Similar attempts to pass anti-transgender laws by ballot have underestimated public opposition to anti-equality measures. Just this month in Washington State, and for the second consecutive year, an anti-transgender ballot initiative failed to collect sufficient signatures.  

In April, the Montana legislature rejected with a bipartisan vote House Bill 609. This “locker room privacy bill,” also championed by the Montana Family Foundation, similarly targeted transgender Montanans and would have forced Montanans to use a bathroom based on the sex specified on their original birth certificates.

"The legislature was given the option to pass a similar law a few months ago and it died there for a reason,” said Caitlin Borgmann, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana. “Lawmakers from both parties found it too extreme, too costly, and too unworkable. It still is, and we hope Attorney General Fox will recognize that."

Organizations that submitted comments in opposition to the MLRPA include:

The Coalition for Dignity and Safety stands with Montana’s transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

The letter to Attorney General Fox can be found below.

The ACLU of Montana will be managing media inquiries. 

[The press release was updated on July 27th with updated information on additional Coalition for Dignity and Safety partner organizations.]

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