Missoula officials to Zephyr: ‘We see you and we hear you’
(Missoula Current) Hours after the Republican majority in the state House on Wednesday banned Missoula Rep. Zooey Zephyr from the floor, Missoula officials defended the ousted lawmaker, as did other Democratic officials.
Missoula County Commissioners and city Mayor Jordan Hess accused the GOP of “silencing 11,000 of Missoula County's constituents” in banning one of the city's elected officials. Several of those who protested the same at the Capitol this week were arrested.
“We are proud to follow Rep. Zephyr's lead in being courageous and having clarity of purpose in the face of devastating decisions that cause real harm to our constituents,” local officials wrote. “We join her in standing up and fighting for members of our community who will face more difficulty, adversity and harm because of the policies this Legislature has passed. We see you and we support you."
The House on Wednesday took up the vote to “discipline” Zephyr and did so by banning her from the floor on a 68-32 vote. Republicans hold a supermajority in the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, accused House Speaker Matt Regier, R-Kalispell and other GOP officials for refusing “to let a democratically-elected member of the House of Representatives take her seat in the chamber.”
“Both the US and Montana Constitutions protect the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest peacefully for citizens,” Abbott said. “Those rights do not stop at the doors of the Montana House for anybody, and they certainly don’t for a duly elected member of this body whose constituents sent her here to be a voice on their behalf.”
Zephyr's speech on the House floor Wednesday aired on national television, including CNN and other networks. The Republican vote in the House also made national news.
A number of national organizations have weighed in.
"The silencing and threats of censure and expulsion against Rep. Zephyr for speaking up in support of transgender Montanans is an attack on our nation's democratic ideals and free speech values,” said Sara Ellis, CEO and President of GLAAD. “It's an insult to suppress the already marginalized and under-represented voices of the LGBTQ people and people of color, and the lawmakers who were duly elected to represent them.”