A person holds up a transgender and gender-diverse flag during a rally for LGBTQ rights on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia in Berlin, Germany, in May 2018. A state judge in Montana has granted a preliminary injunction, temporarily delaying the implementation of a new law that would ban gender-affirming care until a lawsuit challenging its legality can be decided. File Photo by Hayoung Jeon/EPA-EFE
Sept. 27 (UPI) — A state judge in Montana has granted a preliminary injunction, temporarily delaying the implementation of a new law that would ban gender-affirming care until a lawsuit challenging its legality can be decided.
Judge Jason Marks of Montana’s Fourth Judicial District Court delivered the opinion Wednesday, according to a copy of it published by the ACLU.
Dubbed the “Youth Health Prevention Act,” the law was set to take effect Sunday and would ban providing minors with gender-affirming medical care, including surgical procedures, testosterone or estrogen, and puberty blockers. It includes exceptions for a “medically verifiable disorder of sex development.”
In May, two endocrinologists joined two transgender minors and their parents in filing the lawsuit against Montana, saying the law violated their rights under the state’s constitution.
Marks wrote in his opinion granting the preliminary injunction that the lawsuit is likely to succeed “on the merits of at least two of their constitutional claims.”
“The court finds that SB 99 likely violates Montana’s Equal Protection Clause because it classifies based on transgender status — making it a sex-based classification — and because it infringes on fundamental rights, subjecting it to strict scrutiny,” Marks wrote.
Marks said the law “does not serve its purported compelling governmental interest” of protecting minors in the state from pressure to receive medical treatments.
“Alternatively, the court finds that SB 99 is unlikely to survive any level of constitutional review,” the judge wrote.
He added that the law also likely violates the constitutionally protected rights to privacy because the court could not determine that the medical treatments are actually health risks and that the teens are likely to suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction were not to be granted.
Bans similar to the one in Montana have been put into place in 22 states, though courts have blocked their enforcement in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“Today’s ruling permits our clients to breathe a sigh of relief,” Akilah Deernose, executive director of the ACLU of Montana, said in a statement.
“But this fight is far from over. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ constitutional rights and ensuring that this hateful law never takes effect.”
Advocacy groups such as the Human Rights Campaign have called the conservative push against the LGBTQ community a “state of emergency.”
More than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law in 2023 alone. Earlier this year, a federal judge blocked a law in Montana banned some drag performances pending a legal challenge.
The NAACP even issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida, calling the state “openly hostile” toward people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.