House votes to ban birth certificate changes despite court ruling
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House votes to ban birth certificate changes despite court ruling

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Linda Hartgen

Rep. Linda Wright Hartgen speaks at a House Republican Caucus town hall meeting in July 2019 at County West in Twin Falls.

BOISE — The House voted Thursday to directly defy a court order and prevent Idahoans from changing gender markers on birth certificates.

The House approved the bill 53-16 that would prevent transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificate to match their identity.

Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, said the bill would help the state to maintain accurate birth records for reports and studies. Biological sex is necessary for public services and policies, she said, adding school districts use it for things like determining who may use which bathrooms.

“Biological sex is a real scientific fact, and it never goes away,” Young said. “No amount of surgery, hormones or other procedures can change a person’s biological sex.”

A federal court ruled in 2018 that Idaho’s previous ban on birth certificate changes was unconstitutional. Since then, about 150 people applied for the change, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Young said the state failed to adequately defend the previous law and that the decision should be up to lawmakers.

Rep. Linda Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, was one of two Republicans who voted against the bill. The bill seemed to defy the court’s decision, she said.

“I listened to many people give their stories in committee on why they needed their own stats to match their gender marker,” Hartgen said. “Their stories were very compelling to me.

“My job is to protect all of the people in my district and the state of Idaho, not just people who look like me.”

The bill will lead to a lawsuit that the state will lose, Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said.

“All this bill does is pick on a vulnerable population,” he said. “It’s not going to be successful.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

The House approved a bill on Wednesday that would prevent transgender women from participating in women’s sports in Idaho. A third bill to prevent therapy and treatment for transgender minors was held in committee.

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