Media Contact

Alex Rate, ACLU of Montana (406) 224-1447

June 27, 2024

HELENA, MT — Earlier this week, a Missoula District Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment in Reagor v. State and struck down Senate Bill 458 as unconstitutional. SB 458 sought to erase 2S-LGBTQIA+ Montanans from dozens of sections of the Montana Code by requiring that all Montanans be classified by “exactly two sexes, male and female” as defined by their reproductive capabilities.  The ACLU of Montana and Holland & Hart LLP, representing Montanans from across the State, filed a Complaint in December, 2023, alleging that the law violated multiple provisions of the Montana Constitution. The Court agreed, concluding that “SB 458 violates Mont. Const. art. V, § 11(3) for failing to clearly state the subject of the Bill in its title.”

The Court held that “the title is not clear as to what version of the word ‘sex’ the legislature is intending ‘to provide a common definition.’  It is from the body of SB 458 that we learn that the version of the word ‘sex ‘ is the one related to gender.  However, the title does not reflect this as required.”

“Today’s ruling is yet another repudiation of the State’s various attempts to target  Two-Spirit, transgender, intersex, and nonbinary Montanans,” said Alex Rate, Legal Director at the ACLU.  “In this instance, the legislature clearly intended to deceive the public about its real purposes when it adopted a misleading title for SB 458.”

“From its outset this was a mean-spirited and unconstitutional bill - and not just because of its title,” said Shawn Reagor, a transgender man, resident of Lewis and Clark County, and plaintiff in the case. “Its purpose was not to define sex but rather to eliminate the existence of transgender, nonbinary, and Two-Spirit Montanans. Gender diversity has existed here long before Montana was even a state or territory, through the many diverse and vibrant Indigenous cultures and Two-Spirit people that inhabit this land. We (transgender Montanans) cannot simply be defined out of existence. Just like any other Montanan, we want the government to stay out of our lives so we can continue to have the joy of being able to live our lives authentically.”

“I’m thankful that ignorance and erasure of intersex Montanans will no longer have to be accepted as law,” said Jane Doe, a resident of Montana, and plaintiff in the case. “Polarizing politics are no excuse for sloppy policy that denies my existence and the existence of my fellow plaintiffs.”

“We knew this bill was unconstitutional, both because of the title of the bill failing to tell us what is in the bill, and because SB 458 is trying to write people like me out of the law,” said Dandilion Cloverdale, a Two-Spirit individual, resident of Missoula County, and plaintiff in the case. “Two-Spirit people have existed forever and will always exist. We need a government that recognizes that and supports our existence.”

The Court’s order means that SB 458 may no longer be enforced.  The case may end up at the Montana Supreme Court if the State appeals.  This case was filed on behalf of five impacted Montanans by the ACLU of Montana and Holland & Hart LLP.