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Montana Dems call GOP ban of Zooey Zephyr 'deeply offensive'

Zooey Zephyr
Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-27 11:32:27-04

After Missoula Rep. Zooey Zephyr became the first legislator in Montana history to be banned from the House floor, Democrats called the Wednesday action a double standard.

"There's a lot of events that happen, not only in this body, but over in the body of the senate as well. In the last 11 sessions, I've seen here, this is nothing compared to some of the events that have occurred," said Democratic Rep. Johnathan Windy Boy of Box Elder.

"There's a congressman in Florida who said the exact thing she did," Windy Boy added. "Where is his ban? We are picking one person in this body for something she believes is right."

Windy Boy's comments came during a Wednesday House floor hearing over the bill that banned Zephyr from the House floor. Republicans were upset about Zephyr's comments last week during the discussion of a bill limiting gender-affirming care for Montana youths. Zephyr, a transgender woman, passionately spoke against the bill, saying that she hopes those who vote for the bill "see the blood on their hands."

Since that statement, Zephyr hasn't been recognized by House Speaker Matt Regier, a Kalispell Republican, meaning she has lost the right to speak on any proposed legislation. A protest was held at the Capitol on Mondaythat led to seven arrests.

Many Democrats said that her language is no different than what typically is said during legislative hearings. Many compared what Zephyr said to a statement made by Republican Sen. Daniel Emrich of Great Falls about abortion in March.

"In California, Satanists have stated that it's a religious right to abort their children," Emrich said. "When do we draw the line of religious right and harming people?"

Republicans argued that it isn't just about the statement Zephyr made, but the protest that was held on her behalf and her role in not helping to calm it down. Zephyr participated in the protest by raising her microphone to help the chants of "let her speak" be heard.

Republican Rep. Terry Moore of Billings acknowledged her role in the protests when he addressed the room of legislators on Wednesday. He said that the decision to ban her is actually fair.

"There's a fundamental human principle that each of us are responsible for our actions for ourselves, and we bear the consequences of our actions," Moore said. "The disciplinary actions that are proposed from my perspective are reasonable and prudent. The measures proposed ensure the safety of the body and all who participate in the world of the House."

Zephyr will still be able to vote on bills, but she won't be allowed on the floor, which means she cannot participate in any discussion.