Transgender Lawmaker Sues Montana For Censure Following Disruptive Behavior

Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr (D) announced that he would be filing a lawsuit against the Montana House of Representatives over censuring the transgender lawmaker this last week during a discussion over Senate Bill 99

Zephyr announced in a tweet on Monday that “I’m suing.” Zephyr claimed, “The recent actions violate my 1st amendment rights, as well as the rights of my 11,000 constituents to representation. Montana’s State House is the people’s House, not Speaker Regier’s, and I’m determined to defend the right of the people to have their voices heard.”

Zephyr’s lawyers put forth a formal complaint in which they asked a court to reinstate Zephyr to the chamber floor, given that he is currently blocked for the remainder of the legislative session. The complaint lists the state of Montana, Montana House Speak Matt Regier, and Montana House Sergeant-at-Arms Bradly Murfitt as the defendants. Zephyr and Missoula County constituents were listed as the plaintiffs of the case. 

The legislature voted to ban the transgender lawmaker from attending or speaking on the floor after he held up a microphone with his supporters chanting “Let her speak!” The commotion caused by this led to several delays in the proceedings as well as several arrests. 

The reasoning behind the commotion came from Republican lawmakers refusing to recognize Zephyr on the floor. This was due to comments he made claiming that the ban would put “blood on your hands” and arguing that the denial of transitional care for minors would be akin “to torture,” as previously reported by the DC Enquirer.

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The formal complaint submitted by Zephyr and his lawyers goes as far as stating that “Representative Zephyr’s unconstitutional Censure and silencing are the result of not just what she said, but who she is.” 

Despite only being punished for the rest of the legislative session, which as stated earlier only lasts until May 5th, Zephyr was still allowed to vote remotely on the bill. Zephyr’s complaint argues that he is being silenced on other important legislation that is to be passed during that period.

“In the waning days of the legislative session, the Montana House of Representatives is poised to consider critical legislation. House Bill 2 – the State’s budget bill, touching all corners of government and affecting every citizen in the State – will be debated on the floor of the House this week.”

Zephyrs’ lawyers are hoping to get a ruling as quickly as possible, with one of the lawyers stating “Every minute matters,” per AP News

As of now, the House has continued to convene without Zephyr and is set to convene again Tuesday.

It’s hard to argue what Zephyr and his constituents did was anything short of disruptive to the legislative process, but now his case purely rests within the courts. 

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