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Arguments heard in case against Montana 'anti-transgender law'

Arguments for and against Montana Senate Bill 458
Posted at 7:59 AM, Jun 19, 2024

MISSOULA — Oral arguments for and against Montana Senate Bill 458 were heard at the Missoula County courthouse on Tuesday, June 18.

The plaintiffs, who are represented by the ACLU of Montana, argue that SB 458 is unconstitutional on several grounds.

SB Bill 458 has stirred up controversy because advocates argue that it is discriminatory to transgender individuals and those that fall outside the state’s definition of “sex”.

“I'm unable to get a Montana license because my birth certificate, my federal passport and my state IDs all have X markers — nonbinary gender markers on them. And so when I tried to get a Montana state ID, they said I had to choose," plaintiff Dandilion Cloverdale told MTN. "So it was interesting, they were talking about fraud today because I'm actually being forced to commit fraud by picking an M or F marker on my IDs. When all of my other documentation has X markers.”

SB 458 — a general revisions bill to existing laws — centered around the definition of what “sex” is when referring to gender.

ACLU Transgender Lawsuit

The plaintiffs in the case argued that SB 458 is unconstitutional on the grounds that it did not meet the constitutional rule of having a “single title” as well as it not going through the proper process to codify the bill.

Essentially, they argued the title was not specific enough about what was contained within the bill which is illegal under the constitutional single title rule.

They told the judge that the definition of sex the legislature put in the bill was not in the title. They also argued that since the bill defined sex as male and female - based on their reproductive systems - it needed to be included in the title of the bill and it was not.

The State argued that it was included in the title, with the title of the bill being “AN ACT GENERALLY REVISING THE LAWS TO PROVIDE A COMMON DEFINITION FOR THE WORD SEX WHEN REFERRING TO A HUMAN” being specific enough.

State Transgender Lawsuit

Besides that, the state also argued that the bill was exempted from the constitutional rule of requiring a bill to have a single title as it was a bill of “general revisions” to existing laws, which has legal precedent.

"The title is not clear nor is it addressing one particular section of the code. In fact, this law amends 41 different sections of the Montana code and no one knew that when the legislature enacted it because of the current standing with Senate Bill 458” ACLU of Montana legal director Alex Rate explained.

In a statement to MTN from the Attorney’s General communications director, Emilee Cantrell, stated that:

“Regardless of what plaintiffs would like Montanans to believe, it is an objective fact that sex and subjective gender identity are not the same. We look forward to presenting our full argument before the court to defend this law that reflects scientific reality.”

Both sides in the case are now waiting for the judge's decision in the case. However, the plaintiffs told MTN that regardless of the ruling, they will continue to fight against SB 458.