Meet the I-183 Plaintiffs: Reverend Micah Hartung

This post is part of a series featuring the incredible group of Montanans who have stepped forward to challenge the constitutionality of I-183. To read more about the ACLU of Montana’s lawsuit, click here.
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Photo of Reverend Micah HartungReverend Micah Hartung is a sixty-year old man who lives in Belt, Montana. He was raised 26 miles from the Montana border in Powell, Wyoming. After high school graduation, he moved to Billings to attend Eastern Montana College (now MSU-Billings) and graduated with a degree in in Communication Arts with a minor in Education.

And ever since then, Montana became Micah’s home. He explains, “It is the essence of my soul, to be a Montanan.” When he’s traveling back home after being out-of-state, Micah always honks his horn when he crosses the state line. “I hear the creek, I hear all the birds and the stuff you don’t hear in the city. So I’ll probably live and die in Montana.”

It was at a Billings Metropolitan Community Church service where Micah met his life mate, Irene Crawford, who was a founding member of Family of God Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Billings and a long-time proponent of justice work for the LGBTQI+ community. After receiving a Master of Divinity, Micah moved to Great Falls in 1990 and became one of the founding members of the Metropolitan Community Church.

In 1996, Micah took an MCC youth group to Montana’s first Pride March. In preparation, Micah told the congregation that if they wanted to go, they should prepare for passive resistance. “I said, you have to remember there’s a higher calling and that is the one to model what you believe we should be in our faith.”

At the march, the group was ridiculed and harassed. The youth were angry and upset at their treatment. As the youth leader, Micah recognized that healing needed to occur after the aggressive encounter. “Whenever we try to go up against hate with anger, it doesn’t work.”

In 2013, Micah’s mother and his partner Irene passed away. After spending a lifetime identifying as a lesbian, it was then that Micah began his transition to align his body with his thought and spirit and was ready to embrace his transgender identity. Micah feels like he is drawing to an end of this process and described that, “each step, from changing my name and my gender marker, has been a holy experience because of the support of all the agencies that helped me wade through all the materials and rules to finally be 100% male.”

In 2014, he retired from MCC after 34 years of ministry and service. One of Micah’s favorite passages in the Bible is Micah 6:8, “God has told me, O humanity, what is good; and what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Though, as Micah reflects, “That being said, with the name sake of Micah I can do nothing more than to stand up, speak out and change the hearts and minds of humanity that are uninformed about who and what we are as LGBTQI+ people.”

Micah fears that I-183 will isolate and marginalize the transgender community, and would encourage hate and violence. After a lifetime of advocating for social justice and LGBTQI+ Montanans, Micah says, “I hope I live long enough to make a difference for trans people in this state. I hope I’m an old man some day, making a difference. I hope to do that with honor and respect.”

Micah is 60 years old. (Preferred pronouns: he, him)