Montana Republicans opted to ban Democrat lawmaker Zooey Zephyr from the House floor for the duration of the legislative session on Wednesday. In addition to stating that GOP colleagues would have “blood on their hands” over their decision to bar gender reassignment surgeries for children, Zephyr later participated in a protest in which demonstrators stormed the House floor.
The disturbance ultimately resulted in several arrests and the deployment of riot police.
BREAKING: Transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr barred from Montana House floor as Republican lawmakers silence her for rest of 2023 session – AP
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) April 26, 2023
Montana State Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) ahead of vote to bar her from the state House for the rest of the session:
“I have had friends who have taken their lives because of these bills … When I rose up and said, 'There is blood on your hands,' I was not being hyperbolic.” pic.twitter.com/cNZ3nTAVIx
— The Recount (@therecount) April 26, 2023
BREAKING: The Montana House of Representatives has officially voted to REMOVE transgender Rep. Zooey Zephyr from the House Floor for the remainder of the 68th Legislative Session. #mtpol pic.twitter.com/PQfWtAmwDW
— Montana Freedom Caucus (@MTFreedomCaucus) April 26, 2023
On Monday, left-wing protesters descended on the Montana Capitol Building and packed the gallery of the House floor in protest of both the bill and the legislature’s decision to censure Zephyr last week. According to one report, the group chanted “let her speak” for nearly half an hour, bringing the day’s proceedings to a halt.
Several protesters were ultimately arrested after police from the Montana Highway Patrol and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office cleared protesters from the House gallery.
BREAKING: The Montana House of Reps has been shut down by left-wing protesters who are there protesting the censure of transgender Democrat Rep. Zooey Zephyr, that was led by the @MTFreedomCaucus, for telling his Republican colleagues they have "blood on their hands" for passing… pic.twitter.com/MnOyO4FhlN
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 24, 2023
Zephyr drew criticism after telling Republican lawmakers that they would have “blood on their hands” during a House debate over amendments to ban sex change surgeries for minors.
“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,” the transgender lawmaker said during the body’s opening prayer last Tuesday.
The saga ultimately came to a conclusion on Wednesday when Montana Republicans opted to bar Zephyr from the House floor for the duration of the 90-day legislative session. Under the terms of the punishment, Zephyr will still be able to vote remotely, though she will be unable to discuss proposals and amendments under consideration with her colleagues.
House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, who supported the punishment, said Zephyr placed lawmakers and their staff members at risk by inciting Monday’s protests in the chamber. “Freedom in this body involves obedience to all the rules of this body, including the rules of decorum,” Vinton said.
The move comes just weeks after the Republican-dominated Tennessee legislature opted to expel two Democrat members who joined protesters in disrupting official proceedings.