Montana leaders seem eager to reject Montanans

July 11, 2023 4:11 am

A large group gathers at the Montana Capitol on March 15, 2021 during a LGBTQ rally (Photo by Eric Seidle for the Daily Montanan).

It’s been a rough patch recently if you are an LGTBQIA+ person.  

If you are a member of the LGTBQIA+ community, the Supreme Court of the United States has decreed that businesses can discriminate against you by refusing to provide you with the services, and presumably the goods, they provide to straight Christians. 

Why? Because your sexual orientation offends these business owners’ rights of free speech and their communications from God.  That, apparently, would be the same God who sent His only Son to die on a cross so as to bring the polar opposite message–one of love and tolerance–to the people on earth (at least according to the Bible they claim to venerate).  

But, since that’s now the law of the land, even Montana’s Constitution likely cannot protect you from this sort of faith-based bigotry and hatefulness.

And, if you are trans-gender, woe be unto you.  The supermajority/Freedom Caucus Montana Legislature basically wrote you out of the human race—right after they took away the free speech rights of one of your number, Rep. Zooey Zephyr.

 How did they manage that?  Well, they legislatively defined a word that they are preoccupied with: Sex!

Officially, sex in Montana is now defined in the following manner: “In human beings, there are exactly two sexes, male and female with two corresponding gametes.”  That, coincidentally, is the way Bible defines sex: Genesis, 1:27, sans the gamete part. 

Females produce large immobile eggs and males produce small mobile sperm. Both definitions use the qualifier “under normal development,” which apparently disqualifies a person from being either female or male if their development is not “normal” or, otherwise, for whatever reason, they do not produce eggs or sperm.

Unfortunately, this definition is scientifically inaccurate. The Bible, notwithstanding, human beings cannot be categorized into “exactly two sexes.”

Medicine and science recognize a third category of human beings under the general classification of “intersex.”  An intersex human being is a person born with a combination of male and female biological traits. These individuals are born with any of several sex characteristics including chromosome patterns, gonads, reproductive or sexual anatomy or genitals that do not fit typical definitions of male and female. There exist at least 30 different intersex variations, each with its own name and description. 

Good to know, however, that even if your state won’t acknowledge your being a person, at least the disciplines of psychiatry and psychology say you’re human (and perhaps suffering with a condition called gender dysphoria, according to their bible, the DMS-V).

These travesties aside, Montana’s Constitution says that “all persons” have “inalienable rights” to enjoy their lives and liberties and the ability to seek safety, health and happiness in all lawful ways (Article II, Section 3).  All people have a right of individual privacy (Article II, Section 10).  And, all people have an inviolable right of human dignity, the right to equal protection of the laws, and the right to be free from discrimination based on sex (Article II, Section 4).

Not a single one of these constitutional rights and guarantees disqualifies you because you are LGBTQIA+ or because you are a trans-person. Those words are not even it the federal or state Constitutions. At least according to the words in the Constitutions, you are members of “We the People.”

So, I don’t see how our nation’s highest court and our state legislature and governor can simply write you out of the Constitutional rights and guarantees the rest of us take for granted—all in the name of religious ideology.  Freedom of religion also protects freedom from religion.

It’s just a damn shame that the religious right has made your lives a living hell.  

You, our brothers and sisters, don’t deserve that!  You are loved! You are one of us!

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James C. Nelson
James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson is a retired lawyer and former Montana Supreme Court Justice. He lives in Helena.