A Montana legislative panel has rejected a bill that called for a statewide vote on whether to bar transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that don't match their gender at birth.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 against the bill today. It is likely dead, though it could be revived if enough votes flip in the committee or if a majority of representatives blast it to the House floor.
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.
Democratic Representative Jenny Eck from Helena:
"It’s crazy. It’s crazy to think about this, about having people standing by the bathroom, checking documents. Is that how we want to live? I don’t think small business owners want to be responsible for this kind of thing. Why would we do this? If there’s indecent exposure happening in this state there’s already a law that covers it. There’s already laws that cover the things that we’re afraid of."
Supporters of the measure, including the bill’s sponsor Republican representative Carl Glimm of Kyla, say it aims to protect young people and that they believe the economic consequences are exaggerated.
The bill sought to put the issue before voters in 2018.