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Police Arrest Transgender Lawmaker's Supporters at Montana State House

Police Arrest Transgender Lawmaker's Supporters at Montana State House

Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr raising her silenced microphone to allow the crowd in the gallery to be symbolically heard

Republicans in Montana are attracting the same scrutiny that Tennessee GOP lawmakers over protests in the Tennessee capitol.

The Montana Capitol was filled with protestors Monday challenging the muzzling of state Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state’s only transgender lawmaker. Zephyr was banned from speaking since Thursday by Republicans. Some of those people supporting Zephyr were arrested by riot gear-wearing police officers after GOP leadership also demanded their silence.

As Republicans voted to block Zephyr from speaking, “Let her speak!” cries erupted.

Videos posted online showed a large number of assembled supporters who were seeking to have their voices heard.

Some Republicans called for Zephyr’s censure after she opposed the governor’s amendments to a bill seeking to eliminate gender-affirming care for minors. She said the state's GOP lawmakers would have blood on their hands.

Zephyr, while defending the rights of transgender Montanans, chided Republicans during debate on several anti-trans bills the body was considering.

“If you vote yes on this bill, I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” she said.

Those remarks prompted the Montana Freedom Caucus, a group of ultra-conservative legislators, to issue a letter that deliberately misgendered her and called her comments “hateful rhetoric.”

While the lawmaker wasn't censured, Zephyr has been prevented from speaking in the House. Republican House leaders have refused to acknowledge her on the floor for three days and have disabled her microphone.

Seven people were arrested for misdemeanor trespassing, The Washington Postreports.

Montana's House Democrats called out the arrests and the silencing of Zephyr.

“Today we saw Montanans show up and engage in the democratic process, and some of those Montanans were arrested,” House Minority Leader Kim Abbott said. “To me, it’s an incredible statement in support of the trans, nonbinary, and Two Spirit community — and against the Republican agenda that would strip our neighbors of their basic rights, dignity, and humanity.”

Recently, protesters halted Tennessee’s state legislature after a mass shooting at a Nashville school and called for gun control. The Republican-led House later expelled two Black Democratic members for their involvement in the protest, claiming they violated decorum rules by participating in the event.

As in Tennessee, Montana Republicans condemned the protests on Monday night.

“Their actions did not represent Montana values,” said House Speaker Matt Regier and Republican Reps. Rhonda Knudsen and Sue Vinton. “House leadership will stand firm in our commitment to decorum, safety, and order. We will uphold the people’s will that sent 68 Republicans to Helena.”

Supporters assembled outside the Montana House of Representatives in support of transgender legislator Rep. Zooey Zephyr, whom Republicans have silenced.

“It’s hypocritical, but it’s coming from a caucus who talks about limited government as their goal, and then the very same caucus is pushing to take away medical care [that] is accepted by every major medical association for people like me,” Zephyr recently told The Advocate. “I think there’s inherently a hypocritical nature there, but I’m not surprised that they would stoop so low as to misgender me.”

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