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Judge strikes down Montana law defining sex as only male or female for procedural reasons

MISSOULA, Mont. — A judge struck down a Montana law on Tuesday which defined “sex” in state law as only male or femalefinding it unconstitutional.

Judge Shane Vannatta in Missoula ruled that the law, which was passed last year, violated the state constitution because the description of the legislation did not clearly state its purpose.

Transgender, non-binary, intersex and other plaintiffs have challenged the law, similar to the law that passed Kansas and Tennessee, saying it denies legal recognition and protection to gender non-conforming people. Vannatta did not address that argument, simply noting that the bill’s title did not explain whether the word “sex” referred to sexual intercourse or gender, and did not indicate that the words “female” and “male” would be defined in the main text of the bill. the bill.

“The title does not provide general information about the character of the legislation in a manner that protects against deceptive or misleading titles,” Vannatta wrote.

The bill was approved during a legislative session, during which a law was also passed ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors and saw transgender lawmaker Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr driven from the floor of the houseas a sequel to a protest against Republican lawmakers who silenced her.

The law Vannatta struck down was sponsored by Republican Sen. Carl Glimm, who said the legislation was necessary after a 2022 court ruling in which a state judge said transgender residents could do so. change the gender markers on their birth certificates.

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who signed the bill, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the ruling.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana praised the proposal.

“Today’s ruling is an important vindication of the Montana Constitution’s safeguards for legislative action,” said the group’s legal director, Alex Rate.

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