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National News Highlights — September 16, 2022

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A marcher in Montana — Photo by Thom Bridge / AP
A marcher in Montana — Photo by Thom Bridge / AP

Montana "emergency order" locks changes on birth certificates
Under Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte's administration, Montana health officials on Friday last week made a permanent rule that blocks Trans people from changing their listed sex on their birth certificates, regardless of whether they have gone through gender-affirmation surgery.

A Montana court ruled in 2021 that a Trans person could only change their listed sex after providing an affidavit to the state health department, and the legality of that rule is still being challenged; plaintiffs represented by the ACLU of Montana have argued that a having birth certificate that doesn't match their gender identity puts them at risk of discrimination, harassment, and violence.

ACLU attorney Akilah Lane said the new rule, which asserts that sex is "immutable," was even "further evidence of the state's noncompliance" with the 2021 order.

The judge overseeing the case, Michael Moses, has called the 2021 order unconstitutionally vague, since it didn't specify which surgical procedures were required.

Senate makes play to protect Gay marriage
Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and anticipating threats to court decisions protecting same-sex marriage, Democrats and a handful of Republicans in the Senate are gearing up to vote on legislation that would safeguard the right.

Part of their prep has involved negotiations to get more Republicans on board. That effort is led by Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who said after a meeting, "I think the momentum is going in the right direction."

The carrots for Republicans include amendments meant to address concerns about the "religious liberties" of religious institutions and business owners to oppose same-sex marriage, among other things. Supporters of the bill say such things are already enshrined in law but could use some extra clarification.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised a vote would happen "in the coming weeks." "We all want this to pass quickly," he said. "I hope there will be 10 Republicans to support it."

Compared to 2015, when the Supreme Court passed the historic Obergefell v. Hodges decision to legalize marriage equality, support has only grown. Seventy percent of US adults say same-sex unions should be valid under the law, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.