Home Part of States Newsroom
State requests jury trial in sex definition lawsuit


State requests jury trial in sex definition lawsuit

Feb 21, 2024 | 6:28 pm ET
By Nicole Girten
State requests jury trial in sex definition lawsuit
(Photo illustration by Getty Images)

The state requested a jury trial in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Montana over a law defining sex as binary in Montana code.

The request came in the state’s response filed last Thursday, where Attorney General Austin Knudsen denies the nonprofit’s claims the law passed during the 2023 legislature, Senate Bill 458, was unconstitutional.

“SB 458 serves and is supported by rational, legitimate, and compelling state interests, including but not limited to providing objective definitions of terms used widely in Montana law; protecting victims of sexual assault; protecting the safety of females in sports; and ensuring the separation of prison populations by sex for safety,” the state argued.

The state said the bill is “narrowly tailored and rationally related to these important state interests.”

Sen. Carl Glimm, R-Kila, sponsored SB 458 after a bill he passed during the 2021 session restricting gender marker changes on birth certificates was enjoined in court. The judge in the case later permanently blocked the 2021 law, finding it unconstitutional.

The 63-page law, signed by Gianforte in May 2023, amends the state code to define sex as strictly male and female throughout. The state said Tuesday it was enforcing a Department of Public Health and Human Services rule requiring Montanans provide a DNA test among other documents to change their gender marker, citing this law in part for why the rule was applicable.

The Montana ACLU alleged SB 458 violates the Montana Constitution’s separation of powers provision, “which provides that the Courts – not the Legislature – are singularly empowered to interpret the provisions of Montana’s Constitution.”

A group of Montana residents also filed a separate lawsuit against the sex definition law in the fall.