On Wednesday, Governor Greg Gianforte was in Belgrade to sign two bills into law while the legislature in Helena was preparing to censure a transgender representative.
After the press conference, I spoke with Governor Gianforte about his reaction to the proceedings and learned how the pending transgender legislation impacts his own family.
In response to being asked, “Is it difficult to be pushing this legislation now that your son has come out as non-binary?” Governor Greg Gianforte replied:
“Yeah, and you know I’ve been very clear, my love for my son is unconditional,” said Gianforte.
In late March, Gianforte’s 32-year-old son, David sat down in his father’s office with a prepared statement about legislation affecting transgender Montanans and the LGBTQ community.
According to the Montana Free Press, he wanted to talk about Senate Bill 99, a ban on gender-affirming health care for minors; Senate Bill 458, a bill to define sex as strictly binary in Montana code; and House Bill 359, a ban on drag performances in many public spaces.
Sitting across from his father, according to MTFP's reporting, David Gianforte read his statement:
“Hey Dad. Thanks for setting aside time to meet with me, it means a lot to me,” David said. “There are a lot of important issues passing through the legislature right now. For my own sake I’ve chosen to focus primarily on transgender rights, as that would significantly directly affect a number of my friends … I would like to make the argument that these bills are immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights.”
These are the same bills transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr spoke against. Her passionate remarks did not sit well with Governor Gianforte or the Montana House of Representatives.
“I believe the representative's behavior was completely inappropriate,” said Gianforte.
Gianforte also noted that he thinks the protests after Zephyr was barred from participating in discussions is taking away from what Montanans should be focused on.
“Everyone’s voice has to be heard,” said Gianforte. “But the focus has to be on getting the business done. We still have to pass a budget, we’re looking to get funding for mental health, to rebuild our prisons, and to lower taxes. We have to resolve these issues before the end of the session.”
Zephyr has been banned from the floor of the Montana House of Representatives following action Wednesday by Republican leadership.