HELENA – The Helena City Commission voted Monday night to table a resolution for the city to join a lawsuit aimed at blocking a controversial ballot initiative.

The Montana Locker Room Privacy Act, often referred to as the “Bathroom Bill”, is an effort by the Montana Family Foundation to require people to use restrooms corresponding to their sex at birth.

The Commission has expressed its opposition to the measure in the past, saying it impinged on the city’s “independent constitutional status.” At Monday’s meeting, the commission refrained from commenting on the substance of the bill, instead raising questions about how joining a lawsuit against the initiative may interfere with Helena’s current non-discrimination ordinances.

City Attorney Thomas Jodoin advised the commission not to join Hobaugh, et al. vs. State of Montana, the case in which the ACLU is representing several transgender Montanans and seeking to block the proposed initiate from ever making it to the 2018 ballot.

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The City Commission agreed and voted to table the issue and instead weigh the possibility of joining the Montana League of Cities and Towns in opposition to the bill rather than the ACLU lawsuit.

The Montana Family Foundation has said the initiative is a way to protect “the privacy, safety and dignity” of Montana children, but critics say it unfairly targets transgender individuals.

The Commission expects to readdress the issue within the next month.

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