Support a Montana where everyone is valued.
We support a fair Montana, where everyone has equal access to employment, housing, and public accommodations and where every family is valued.
The State of Montana should ensure that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, are protected from discrimination and that committed couples have full legal protections for their families.
Join us in building an inclusive Montana where everyone is valued and where basic fairness provides everyone equal access to employment, housing, public accommodations and legal protection for committed couples.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has no place when it comes to where a person can work, live or play or when it comes to caring for our families.
More than 100 Montana clergy members support our Fair is Fair campaign. Sixty-six Montana religious leaders have signed onto an amicus curaie brief supporting our couples' appeal to the Montana Supreme Court.
Find out more about our Fair is Fair campaign at www.fairisfairmontana.org
Montana's Constitution guarantees the rights of privacy, dignity, pursuit of life's necessities, equal protection and due process. The goal of our lawsuit, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, is to see that same-sex couples are able to protect their families with the same kind of legal protections that opposite-sex couples are offered through marriage.
In Kulstad v. Maniaci, the ACLU's plaintiff, Michell Kulstad, sued her former partner for custody rights. The two women had jointly raised two children, but the children had only been legally adopted by Maniaci. In 2009, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that by providing for the children's day-to-day physical and emotional needs with Maniaci's encouragement, Kulstad met all the requirements under state law to be declared a de facto parent, and that it was in the children's best interest that this parent-child relationship continue.
Snetsinger v. Montana. In February 2002, the ACLU, on behalf of two same-sex partners and PRIDE, brought suit against the Montana University System, the Montana Board of Regents and the State of Montana for failure to allow access to health insurance for same sex partners of the University System employees. The district dismissed the suit, holding that marital status was a proper basis on which to award health insurance benefits. The Montana Supreme Court reversed the district court in 2004, however, and held that excluding same-sex couples from health insurance was a violation of Equal Protection principles because unmarried opposite sex couples could file affidavits in order to obtain coverage while same-sex couples could not.
In 2001, a partnership of state-wide organizations formed the Montana Safe Schools Coalition (MSSC). The MSSC has a singular focus: creating safer learning environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) students and staff; those who are perceived as LGBT; and those who have LGBT family members. To this end, the MSSC provides Making Montana Schools Safer* workshops to Montana educators, developing their skills, expertise and confidence to prevent and interrupt anti-gay bullying. Thus far, MSSC has provided trainings for hundreds of teachers from over two dozen school districts.
Pride and events
We take part Montana's Pride celebration every year and enjoy gathering with fellow LGBT advocates and taking our message to the general public. You may have also seen as at the fair in Great Falls or Billings.
The ACLU advocates on behalf of LGBT rights in many forums across Montana, including the Montana Legislature, city commissions and school districts.
2011 Montana Legislature
We were disappointed when the House Judiciary Committee tabled a bill to amend the criminal code to delete same-sex relations from the definition of deviant sexual conduct, after the Senate approved the bill in an overwhelming bipartisan vote. For years, the legislature has refused to change the statute so that it complies with rulings by the Montana and United States Supreme Courts. We are heartened, however, by the scores of legislators who did vote for the bill, indicating a strong starting point for a bill next session.
The Legislature maintained the status quo when it comes to LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws, a partial victory for us. Legislators continued to refuse to expand the state's non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Meanwhile, the Senate eventually killed another bill that would have repealed the LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance that the City of Missoula passed in April 2010, and would have prohibited any local government from enacting a similar ordinance.
The ACLU of Montana drafted the ordinance and worked with the Montana Human Rights Network and other partner organizations in 2010 to push for the adoption of a nondiscrimination ordinance in Missoula protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in matters of employment, housing and public accommodations. It passed on April 12, 2010, and took effect in May 2010. We are supporting a similar effort in Helena.