Missoula officials condemn GOP treatment of Rep. Zephyr
(Missoula Current) Missoula County commissioners on Friday spoke out in support of a Missoula delegate to the Legislature who was censored this week for challenging a Republican vote on a transgender bill.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state's first openly transgender state lawmaker, is not able to speak on the House floor until she apologizes publicly for telling Republicans earlier this week that they should be ashamed for their vote to ban gender-affirming care for Montana children.
On Friday, commissioners Josh Slotnick, Juanita Vero and Dave Strohmaier, along with Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess, called the actions taken by House Speaker Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, unacceptable.
Reiger declined to recognize Zephyr on Thursday when she activated the button at her desk indicating that she would like to speak on a bill or to the chamber, according to the Daily Montanan.
"Recent actions taken to silence Rep. Zooey Zephyr are unacceptable and undemocratic,” Missoula's county commissioners and mayor said. “We support Rep. Zephyr and her commitment to speaking for her 11,000 constituents in Missoula County.”
Zephyr told Republicans they should be ashamed of their vote banning gender-affirming care for Montana youth earlier in the week, saying they would “see the blood on your hands” next time they bowed their heads for the invocation that kicks off each floor session.
According to the Daily Montanan, when asked specifically what Zephyr had done to warrant censure, Regier said he found Zephyr's actions to be out of line with House decorum rules and added that it was “personal” comments directed toward Republicans.
Elected officials in Missoula criticized Regier's actions and said it leaves thousands of Missoula residents without a voice in the Legislature.
“Laws this Legislature has passed will deprive Montanans of their rights. Rep. Zephyr has boldly stood up for all Montanans, including the LGBTQ+ community, and we stand with her,” Missoula mayor and commissioners wrote. “Some lawmakers, under the guise of "decorum," have demonstrated a cruel disdain for Rep. Zephyr's humanity. These types of actions have no place in a democracy, as real democracy demands the free exchange of ideas, with full participation for all. We stand with Rep. Zephyr and condemn this attempt to silence a duly elected official speaking on behalf of her constituents."