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Montana Judge Rules Transgender Birth Certificate Law Unconstitutional

Montana Judge Rules Transgender Birth Certificate Law Unconstitutional

<p>Montana Judge Rules Transgender Birth Certificate Law Unconstitutional</p>

The judge also held the state in contempt for violating a court order regarding sex designation rules.

A district court judge in Montana has ruled against a law that made it harder for transgender individuals to change the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Judge Michael Moses of the 13th Judicial District Court found the bill unconstitutional and held the state health department in contempt of court for disregarding previous orders that temporarily banned the law.

The legislation, enacted in 2021 by Governor Greg Gianforte, mandated that transgender individuals undergo gender-confirmation surgery and obtain a court order before the Montana Department of Health and Human Services would allow changes to their birth certificates.

Prior to this, Montana residents could alter the sex designation on their birth certificates by submitting a gender-designation form confirming their gender transition, presenting a government ID reflecting the correct sex designation, or obtaining a court order indicating the change.

Per ABC News, Moses stated in his Monday ruling that the health department demonstrated a "blatant disregard" for previous court injunctions. The court issued a preliminary order in April 2022 that temporarily enjoined the law and instructed the state to revert to its former rules for changing sex designations.

"Defendants, instead, engaged in temporary rulemaking and promulgated a temporary rule whereby DPHHS [Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services] removed the procedure for changing the sex designation of birth certificates altogether," Moses wrote.

The state eventually escalated the case to the Montana Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court's decision and required the state to reinstate the previous sex designation rules. However, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services did not comply with the order.

Moses noted that the state's counsel could not provide a satisfactory explanation for the state's continued non-compliance. As a result, Moses determined that the state had acted in contempt of court for a significant portion of the litigation, writing that it "did not act in good faith or in accordance with constitutional and statutory mandates."

The state must now pay attorney fees for the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, who brought the case to court on seven different occasions, according to the Daily Montanan. The total bill has yet to be calculated.

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