Last week I notified you about the attempt by anti-transgender Montanans to create a referendum on the existence of transgender people.
Well, that came a cropper in the Montana House Judiciary Committee, which voted 11-7 against the bill yesterday. The bill is now considered to be "likely dead."
Three Republicans on the committee – Reps. Dale Mortensen of Billings, Kirk Wagoner of Clancy and Casey Knudsen of Malta -- joined all eight of the panel’s Democrats in voting against the bill. Republican Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway of Great Falls abstained.
Legislators who opposed the bill warned it would lead to humiliation and increased safety risks for transgender people. They added it would harm the state's economy because entertainers and tourists would see Montana as unwelcoming.
Supporters of the measure say it aims to protect young people and that they believe the economic consequences are exaggerated.
It’s scary to think about people standing by the bathroom, checking documents. Is that how we want to live?
--House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, (D-Helena), who voted against the bill
When we send a message like this, we’re sending a message to a lot of entertainers and others who want to come visit that we’re not a welcoming state.
--Rep Virginia Court, (D-Billings)
When this law passes and people are taking their lives, that’s on us in this committee. When we see stories pop up in the paper, this committee is going to be responsible for that..
--Rep Shane Morigeau (D-Missoula)
I'm glad that the legislature actually voted against it. However, that doesn't mean we're done yet. I'm pretty sure we will see a ballot initiative and attempts to try to get this on the ballot in 2018. So our work continues and hopefully we are able to educate the public as best as we can.
--David Herrera, Western Montana Community Center
After the vote, the Montana Family Foundation, which supported the bill, said they will instead bring the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act as a ballot initiative.
The people of Montana want to see privacy, safety and dignity protected in our locker rooms and showers. Girls shouldn’t have to shower in front of boys. It’s just common sense. We will take the Locker Room Privacy Act to the people and let them have their say.
--Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation