Governor Signs Anti-Trans Bills Despite Lobbying by His Son

Montana Greg Gianforte makes no public comment on new law
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2023 3:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 29, 2023 2:55 PM CDT
Montana Governor's Son Requested Meeting to Lobby Against Anti-Trans Bills
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signs one of three bills restricting access to abortion in Montana as sponsor of one of the bills, state Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, watches in Helena, Mont., on April 26, 2021.   (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)
UPDATE Apr 29, 2023 2:55 PM CDT

Gov. Greg Gianforte on Friday signed into law bills restricting transition care for transgender minors in Montana over the pleas of, among others, his son. The governor made no public comment about the legislation, but his spokeswoman emailed the New York Times that "he is committed to protecting Montana's children from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies." State Democrats had fought the measure. "I'm very disappointed it's becoming law," said Rep. Kim Abbott, the House Democratic leader. "It is very damaging policy. It impacts families and communities who are trying to obtain medically necessary care."

Apr 28, 2023 3:00 AM CDT

The Republican governor of Montana was lobbied by his own son against signing the anti-trans bills passed by the state legislature. David Gianforte tells the Montana Free Press he initially reached out to his father, Gov. Greg Gianforte, in an email, asking him "as your constituent and your son" to veto the bills that a trans state lawmaker recently made headlines for speaking out against (and getting silenced for it by her GOP colleagues). His dad replied, "I would like to better understand your thoughts and concerns. When can we get together to talk about it?" and signed the email, "Love, Dad." David Gianforte is gay, identifies as nonbinary, and uses he/they pronouns. Given how important the LGBTQ+ community is to him, he tells the Free Press, "I felt somewhat of an obligation to speak with him about it."

"Hey Dad. Thanks for setting aside time to meet with me, it means a lot to me," reads the statement that David Gianforte says he read aloud during the meeting he arranged with the governor last month. “There are a lot of important issues passing through the legislature right now. For my own sake I’ve chosen to focus primarily on transgender rights, as that would significantly directly affect a number of my friends … I would like to make the argument that these bills are immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights.” He says his father gave him some reasons he supports the bills, but that weeks later, when his father sent one of them back with amendments that David did not feel improved the outlook for the state's LGBTQ+ residents, any hope he'd previously felt faded. He's been speaking out against the bills publicly.

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He calls his father's letter to lawmakers explaining the amendments "bizarre," because the governor both expresses compassion for Montana's youth and also, simultaneously, strips them of health care they might need. He notes that he grew up in a devout Christian household and that after coming out to his parents as gay in 2020, they've never spoken of his sexual orientation at length. As for his father, his office said in a statement, "The governor loves his family and values their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. Our office will not discuss private conversations between the governor and members of his family." As the governor prepared to sign two of the bills in question into law, a KBZK reporter asked, "Is it difficult to be pushing this legislation now that your son has come out as nonbinary?" The governor replied, “Yeah, and you know I’ve been very clear, my love for my son is unconditional." (Read more Greg Gianforte stories.)

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