Idaho House defies federal court order to pass anti-transgender birth certificate bill
Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — In defiance of a federal court order, Idaho House Republicans pushed through legislation making it illegal for transgender people to change gender markers on their Idaho birth certificates.
Under House Bill 509, introduced by Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, a birth certificate can be amended only within one year of its filing. After one year, it can be changed only via a court challenge “on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.”
Young says state-mandated vital statistics must be based on a “biological definition of sex” for accurate age and sex tracking, reporting and studies. Additionally, she says biological sex accuracy is necessary for sex-specific medical treatment, services and policies.
“It is better to be correct than politically correct where human lives are concerned,” Young said.
“Eroding any basis in the law for a biological definition of sex also raises important First Amendment concerns related to freedom of religion and freedom of speech,” Young told the House. “We’ve heard the stories of people who are required to use certain pronouns or lose their job.”
The House passed the bill 53-16, with only two Republicans voting against the bill, Reps. Doug Ricks, Rexburg, and Linda Wright Hartgen, Twin Falls.
“I listened to many people give their stories in committee, for hours, on why they needed their own stats to match their gender marker. Their stories were very compelling to me,” Hartgen said.
“My job here is to protect all of the people in my district and the state of Idaho, not just those who look like me.”
Transgender legislation “likely unconstitutional”
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ruled in March 2018 that Idaho officials can no longer “automatically and categorically” reject transgender individuals’ applications to change the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Dale ruled in favor of two transgender Idaho women who claimed that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s policy of automatic rejection violated their constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. A challenge has already been filed in Idaho federal court on Young’s bill and a bill the House passed Wednesday banning transgender females from participating in girls’ and women’s sports in public schools and universities.
The transgender female athlete’s bill is likely unconstitutional, according to an Idaho Attorney General’s Office analysis.
House Bill 500, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, has legal flaws that include possible violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, privacy violations in determining how a student’s sex would be established, and commerce clause violations because it could conflict with NCAA and other national sports organization rules, according to the AG’s office.
“Courts have found that governmental actions distinguishing between transgender and nontransgender individuals is a type of sex-based discrimination,” wrote Brian Kane, assistant chief deputy attorney.
Both HB 509 and HB 500 now go to the Senate for consideration.
A third transgender-related bill, banning therapy and medical treatment for transgender children, was held on Wednesday by a committee chair, effectively killing it.
Following several hours of emotional testimony by medical professionals, transgender people and parents of transgender children on Tuesday evening, House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, announced Wednesday morning that he would hold House Bill 465, sponsored by Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, in committee.
Chaney said in a news release that public testimony “showed the very real struggle faced by those with gender dysphoria, their families and their providers. While I strongly disagree with their conclusions and course of conduct, the parents and providers of those with gender dysphoria are very intently attempting to do what is best as they see it.”