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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Judge temporarily blocks Montana's drag performance ban

A federal district court judge Friday put a temporary block on a new state law banning drag performances where minors could be present.

District court judge Brian Morris’ ruling comes two days before the start of Montana Pride, scheduled to run through Aug. 6 in Helena. Morris says the law, which bans drag performance in public places where there might be children is a possible violation of the First Amendment protections of free speech.

The law was passed by the 2023 Montana Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte in late May.

Plaintiffs argued that the law could infringe upon scheduled Pride celebration events.

Morris ruled the City of Helena must approve all Pride permits within 24 hours. Prior to the ruling, the city had not granted permits for Pride, citing worries they could subject public employees to liabilities under the law.

In June, a speech by a transgender author was rescheduled after Butte-Silver Bow Public Library canceled the event citing concerns it could be considered a violation of this law.

Morris’ temporary block on the policy will remain in place until a full lawsuit against the case moves forward in late August.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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