A transgender rights group has come out against a Montana bill that would repeal a gay protections law in Missoula, the state's second largest city, and forbid other municipalities from following suit.

Republican Representative Kristin Hansen's bill won House approval last month with a decisive 60-39 vote. It cleared a Senate committee on Friday and could reach the Senate floor as early as Tuesday.

In a letter to Montana state Senators released on Monday, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund urged lawmakers to reject the proposal.

“HB 516 is meant to do one thing only: to make it impossible for transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual Montanans to seek protection from discrimination in the cities and towns where they live,” the group wrote. “HB16 suffers from at least two constitutional infirmities. First, it is motivated solely by animus towards transgender and gay people, which is a constitutionally impermissible basis for legislation. Second, it deprives transgender and gay people of their right to participate in the political process and seek help from their local governments. That privation – which turns transgender and gay Montanans into strangers to a broad swath of Montana's government – is by itself a violation of constitutional guarantees of equal protection.”

“HB 516 serves no legitimate government interest and is unconstitutional,” the group concluded.

At a House hearing on the proposed measure, gay rights opponents suggested that being gay should be criminalized.

“It is God himself who says that homosexuality is an abomination, and he has various punishments for that, too,” said Harris Himes, a pastor at Big Sky Christian Center in Hamilton. When asked for an example, Himes quoted Leviticus saying that gay people “surely shall be put to death.”

Other opponents railed against the Missoula law's protections for transgender people, suggesting that the law placed women and children in danger.

“This law in Missoula means that a person with a penis can now go into the showers where the people with vaginas have gone,” Dallas Erickson of Montana Citizens for Decency through Law said.