A Montana Democrat was censured by the state assembly Thursday after hate-filled comments that accused Republicans of having “blood on your hands” over transgender legislation.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first transgender-identified lawmaker in the Montana legislature, mocked Republican prayers in a floor speech this week as the House debated a bill to codify the sex binary of male and female. Senate Bill 99, which ultimately cleared the lower chamber, bans transgender medical interventions for minors with gender dysphoria.
“The only thing I will say is if you vote yes on this bill, and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there’s an invocation when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” Zephyr said.
The Montana House Freedom Caucus responded to the remarks with a demand to censure the Missoula-area representative. Zephyr was banned from engaging in further floor debate on Thursday and is not allowed to speak on bills in the chamber without an apology.
“It is up to me to maintain decorum here on the House floor, to protect the dignity and integrity,” said House Speaker Matt Regier, according to the Associated Press. “Any representative that I don’t feel can do that will not be recognized.”
Zephyr published a photo of the chamber microphone on Twitter. “The Republican Party of Montana is refusing to allow me — a transgender Representative — to speak on any bill,” Zephyr wrote. “My light is on, and I am ready to speak on behalf of the constituents who elected me to do so.”
“Hate-filled testimony has no place on the House floor,” said Republican Rep. Caleb Hinkle, who serves on the House Freedom Caucus.
Zephyr’s censure follows a trio of Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee who were also reprimanded by their respective Republican legislative majority for leading an insurrection at the statehouse in Nashville.
Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson were stripped of their committee assignments for violating decorum by storming the Tennessee Capitol with a mob of transgender activists after a trans-identified shooter killed six people at a nearby school. Jones and Pearson were temporarily expelled from the legislature before being reinstated by local officials.