LGBTQ2S+ Rights and the 2021 Legislative Session

The 67th legislative session in Montana brought attack after attack on trans rights and resulted in multiple discriminatory laws. Hearings included LGBTQ2S+ folks bravely sharing their experiences with doctors, educators, and business owners backing them up. They also included opposition that relied on fake science and anti-trans rhetoric in their testimony.

This brief includes six bills, three that became law, and three that died in the process.

 

Pro-Discrimination Legislation: 

  • SB 215, sponsored by Sen. Carl Glimm (Passed and signed into law)  –  “Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” an act revising laws related to the free exercise of religion; recognizing the free exercise of religion as a fundamental right; restoring the use of the compelling governmental interest test to decisions in legal cases regarding the free exercise of religion. Essentially, this bill legalizes discrimination if the discriminatory behavior is based on one’s religion. Compelling governmental interest requires a significant amount of evidence, and proof that the exercise of religion requires infringement. This will allow folks to refuse service to anyone they do not like, under the explanation of exercise of religion.”

 

Anti-Trans Legislation

  • HB 112, sponsored by Rep. John Fuller (Passed and signed into law)  –  “Save Women’s Sports Act”, short name: require interscholastic athletes to participate under sex assigned at birth. Under the guise of “women’s safety” this bill prohibits trans women from participating in athletics. This act will require public school athletic teams to be designated based on “biological sex”. Despite tremendous pushback on the local and national level, presenting itself in articles, letters to the editor, multiple rallies, and hundreds of testimonials during hearings, this bill passed through both houses and is on the governor’s desk. Once signed this act will go into effect on July 1, 2021.

  • SB 280, sponsored by Sen. Carl Glimm (Passed and signed into law)  –  Revise vital statistics laws regarding sex designation on birth certificate. This law, made effective as soon as the Governor signed it, requires that people needing to change the sex designation on their birth certificate must prove in court that they have had gender-affirming surgery. Proof entails: providing to the Department of Health and Human Services a correction affidavit accompanied by: “a completed gender designation form certifying that the individual has undergone gender transition or has an intersex condition; a government-issued identification displaying the correct gender designation; or a certified copy of a court order indicating that the gender of the individual born in Montana has been changed.”

  • HB 113, sponsored by Rep. John Fuller (Died in Process)  –  Provide for youth health protection: an act providing for youth health protection; providing definitions, prohibiting certain medications and medical procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria. This bill would have made it illegal for a health care provider to: “perform gender transition procedures on a minor to treat gender dysphoria; remove any otherwise healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue of a minor to treat gender dysphoria; or refer a minor to a healthcare provider for gender transition procedures.”

  • HB 427, sponsored by Rep. John Fuller (Died in Process)  –  a bill for an act entitled “An act providing for youth health protection laws; prohibiting surgical procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors; providing enforcement; and providing definitions

  • SB 245, sponsored by Sen. Keith Regier (Died in Process)  –  Implement medical ethics and diversity act, was a bill for an act entitled “An Act providing protections for medical practitioners, health care institutions, and health care payers objecting to participating in health care services based on conscience; providing remedies; providing protections for whistleblowers; and providing an applicability date.”