Despite being silenced in Montana’s legislature, Rep. Zooey Zephyr has vowed to keep fighting.
Zephyr, a Democratic lawmaker who identifies as a transgender woman, said she’s confident critics have only amplified her message to those in her district and across the country despite her colleagues voting to censure her from the legislative chamber.
“There are many more eyes on Montana now,” Zephyr told The Associated Press. “But you do the same thing you’ve always done. You stand up in defense of your community and you… stand for the principles that they elected you to stand for.”
Zephyr is undeterred, however, and said she aims to continue doing the job she was elected to do: representing her constituents.
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Zephyr, 34, was thrust into the national spotlight last week after the lawmaker criticized colleagues who supported a bill banning medical care for transitioning minors, telling them that they would have blood on their hands.
“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 when debating SB99.
After she refused to apologize for the comments, as critics demanded, Republicans led the chamber in a 68-32 vote to bar Zephyr from being able to access the House floor. She also cannot enter the anteroom or gallery as a result of the vote.
“It’s queer people across the world and it’s also the constituents of other representatives who are saying ‘They won’t listen’ when it comes to these issues. It’s staff in this building who, when no one is looking, come up and say ‘Thank you,'” Zephyr said.
Zephyr is still allowed to vote remotely.
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The censure vote was held after House Speaker Matt Regier said Zephyr’s comments violated decorum rules.
“The Montana House will not be bullied,” Regier said earlier this week.
“Not only has my colleague violated decorum, but has broken the trust given by the other 99 Representatives,” Montana state representative Braxton Mitchell told Fox News Digital. “The hate-filled remarks were an act of self-service, not public service.”
Zephyr likened her activism and subsequent silence to an incident in Tennessee, where state lawmakers voted to expel two Black lawmakers for participating in a gun control protest after a school shooting in Nashville that killed three children and three adults.
The two lawmakers have since been reinstated.
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“That’s exactly what I’m talking about, is when young Black men stand up and say ‘We have a gun violence problem in this country’ and you are failing to recognize it, you’re failing to take action on it,” Zephyr told the Associated Press.
Zephyr, mocking her critics, said: “Your voices shouldn’t be here. We’re going to send you away.”
Zephyr ultimately did not apologize but said: “When there are bills targeting the LGBTQ community, I stand up to defend my community. And I choose my words with clarity and precision and I spoke to the real harms that these bills bring.”
The situation in Montana has made waves across the country as several lawmakers and others have expressed their views on social media.
“The attack in Montana on Rep. Zephyr is an attack on all of us,” said Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt.
“It’s so important that we not be silent about this from state to state to state,” said Hunt, who has a transgender son and who is leading a similar legislative effort to promote transition care for children in her state. “And it’s so important that people stand up against this rising movement, this radical movement, and say it is not welcome.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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