BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge has blocked health officials from enforcing a state rule that would prevent transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificate.
District Court Judge Michael Moses chided attorneys for the state on Thursday over the rule.
He said it circumvented his April order that temporarily blocked a 2021 Montana law that made it harder to change birth certificates.
Moses said there was no question that the new rule recently adopted by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services violated his earlier order.
Moses said his ruling in April was “clear as a bell."
He even took it a step further by comparing their actions to a convicted person who tries changing their name to avoid prosecution for getting in trouble a third time.
“Isn’t that exactly what happened here?” the judge asked. “I’m a bit offended the department thinks they can do anything they want.”
Advocates for transgender rights say only Tennessee, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have sweeping prohibitions against birth certificate changes similar to what Montana has pursued.
Two years ago, Idaho and Ohio struck down such a ban.
Moses was asked to intervene by the ACLU of Montana after the state health department enacted the new temporary rule.
State officials denied it adopted the new rule in bad faith.