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September 19, 2017

Helena, Mont. – The Montana Supreme Court granted the ACLU of Montana’s petition challenging the sufficiency of I-183’s ballot statement and fiscal note.  I-183 would force Montanans to prove their gender before accessing facilities in public spaces. The Court found that the anti-transgender I-183’s intended and unintended consequences were inadequately explained by the statement accompanying the ballot initiative’s original language. 

In the successful challenge, the ACLU of Montana asserted that the initiative’s discriminatory impacts on transgender and gender-nonconforming Montanans and the negative consequences to state and local economies were not accounted for in the original description.

“The original description did not mention the word ‘transgender,’ but it is undeniable that I-183 will operate to banish transgender Montanans from full and equal participation in public life,” said ACLU of Montana Executive Director Caitlin Borgmann. “Moreover, I-183 carries significant financial risk for Montana’s state and local economies. North Carolina took a projected $3.76 billion hit to its economy when it passed a similar anti-transgender law. Montana voters are entitled to cast informed ballots.  Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the true effect of the initiative must now be made clear to voters.”

“Today was an important step forward,” said Legal Director Alex Rate. “The Supreme Court has ensured that when Montanans vote on I-183 and decide whether or not to legalize discrimination, they will be informed about the societal and economic costs for regulations that target our transgender friends and neighbors. Rest assured, the ACLU of Montana will continue to investigate any and all avenues available to ensure the I-183 never becomes law.”

The Attorney General now has to revise the ballot statement and fiscal note to comply with the Supreme Court’s order. The Supreme Court’s ruling can be found as an attachment at the bottom of this web page.

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).