On Wednesday, the Montana House of Representatives officially stripped the state’s first trans lawmaker of her ability to speak in the legislature. In a 62-38 vote, the GOP-majority House banned Rep. Zooey Zephyr from the floor, gallery, and anteroom for the remainder of the session. While she will be able to cast votes, and will retain her seat in the House, the 34-year-old legislator will not be able to participate in debates.
BREAKING: The Montana House, on a 68-32 vote, bans the state's first trans woman lawmaker, Rep. Zooey Zephyr, from the floor, anteroom, & gallery for the rest of this session, following several days of silencing her, after she raised her mic for supporters in the gallery Monday. pic.twitter.com/0WDJ13KzEL
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) April 26, 2023
Last week, several Republican lawmakers and Zephyr clashed over a bill that would prohibit gender-affirming care for minors. While speaking in opposition to the bill, Zephyr said that GOP lawmakers who’ve backed the bill would have “blood on their hands.” House Speaker Matt Regier ruled that Zephyr’s statement violated House rules and demanded that she apologize. Zephyr refused. Since then, Regier has refused to recognize her as a speaker.
During a session on Monday, several demonstrators gathered in support of Zephyr, chanting, “Let her speak.” According to CNN, seven protestors were arrested for criminal trespassing. Republican Rep. Sue Vinton, the House Majority leader and the sponsor of the resolution to ban Zephyr, accused her of encouraging “the continuation of the disruption of this body, placing legislators, staff and even our pages at the risk of harm.”
Transgender Montana lawmaker Zooey Zephyr was prevented from speaking on the House floor for the third day, prompting many of her supporters to bring Monday's session to a halt.
Several protestors were arrested.https://t.co/5DlQrZmxud pic.twitter.com/tCt6pt1IVh
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 25, 2023
This move from Montana’s Republicans is the latest example of a Republican-controlled legislature lashing out at Democrat members. Only a few weeks ago, Tennessee lawmakers expelled two young Black representatives after they stood in solidarity with gun control advocates after a devastating school shooting.
“If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable,” Zephyr said the following the vote, “then all you’re doing is using decorum as a tool of oppression.”