Alerts & Actions
Free & Fair Coalition letter to Gov. Gianforte on the impact of anti-transgender legislation
Governor Greg Gianforte
P.O. Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-0801
Dear Governor Gianforte,
From Browning to Broadus and Kalispell to Billings, Montanans at every crossroad agree that people who live in the Treasure State have the right to lives of dignity, safety, and opportunity. Unfortunately, dangerous rhetoric, policy proposals, and actions from the 2023 Montana Legislature threaten this future. Numerous extreme anti-LGBTQ bills threaten Montanan’s abilities to live, work, learn, and play in our beautiful state. Some of the most extreme bills, such as SB 458, would erase the legal existence of our intersex, transgender, nonbinary and Two Spirit friends, relatives, and neighbors. This is not a future any decent Montanan wants.
The Montana legislature is advancing a tidal wave of far-reaching policies that would destroy access to healthcare during pregnancy, deny people’s rights to attend valued cultural events, cut off Montanans’ ability to have accurate identity documents, and prevent parents from making private medical decisions that protect their children’s health and well-being. The hostile, dehumanizing comments and flood of misinformation happening daily in the Capitol is more than an insult to our Montana way of life. It is a dangerous environment where legislators are fanning the flames of discrimination and hostility toward LGBTQ+ Montanans.
The fallout of this is much more than just a climate of fear. The consideration of these policies, and the rhetoric pushed during their hearings and debates has serious consequences for Montanans. Last month, a transgender woman was hospitalized with very serious injuries after a man shouting slurs and hateful comments about trans people ran her over with his truck. Similarly, a LGBTQ student group at Montana State University has received multiple, violent threats. We are also fielding more crisis calls from people who are afraid to go about their daily lives because of statements from elected officials. Make no mistake, the policies and rhetoric emanating from the Montana legislature have real, dangerous consequences for Montanans across the state.
There is no need for cruel, malicious statements and actions in the Legislature. As the leader of the Montana Republican party, which claims to stand for responsibility and freedom, and against government interference, it is your duty to tell the members of your own party that reckless words and actions are not only unnecessary, they are callous and heartless.
We unequivocally know that bills targeting LGBTQ+ Montanans will harm every Montanan. If these bills pass, healthcare professionals will leave the state rather than subject themselves to government inference restricting their duty to serve their patients. Fewer healthcare providers means longer wait times for everyone, and higher healthcare costs for families forced to seek specialized care out of state. Teachers will retire or move elsewhere to avoid false accusations and ridicule from political operatives working to incite moral panic over queer stories and books. Entrepreneurs will choose to open businesses outside of Montana where they know their talented employees will be able to live in safety, have access to healthcare, make appropriate medical decisions for their children, enjoy excellent public schools, and more.
The overwhelming majority of these bills are unconstitutional and will be challenged in court. We know it, and the people determined to push these harmful bills also know it. It would even appear that you, Governor Gianforte know this. Why else would you be trying to amass a war chest of taxpayer funds to defend these dangerous, ill-conceived bills? It’s time to stop using the Legislature to unravel essential rights and, instead, choose to build a Montana where everyone has the freedom to live freely and without government intervention. We urge you to be an example of thoughtful leadership for every legislator and Montana resident today and put a stop to this violent rhetoric – before it’s too late.
Signed by members of the Free & Fair Coalition, a group of organizations united to protect LGBTQ+ Montanans and their essential rights:
ACLU of Montana
Blue Mountain Clinic
Montana Human Rights Network
Montana Women Vote
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana
Western Montana LGBTQ+ Community Center