Protesters Disrupt Montana House Over Trans Lawmaker Standoff
Montana, Helena, State Capitol Building, United States And Montana Flags.
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Shouting protesters disrupted the proceedings of the Montana House of Representatives on Monday, leading to several arrests of people demonstrating in support of a transgender lawmaker who is being silenced after lashing out at colleagues.

In a scene reminiscent of what happened at the Tennessee state capitol building last month, demonstrators filled the gallery and chanted “Let her speak!” when the GOP-led chamber voted to uphold a gag order on state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D-Missoula), who was in the room and held up a microphone.

After the protesters ignored demands that they come to order, Republican House Speaker Matt Regier asked the sergeant of arms to clear the gallery and directed members to move to the side of the chamber. Police in riot gear forcibly removed the protesters and at least seven individuals were arrested, per Montana Public Radio.

Holly Michels, head of the Montana State News Bureau, tweeted videos showing some of what transpired during the arrests.

“House Republicans condemn violence and will always stand for civil debate and respect for our process of government,” Montana House GOP leadership said in a statement.

“Today’s riot by far-left agitators damages our discourse and endangered legislators and staff. Their actions did not represent Montana values,” they added. “We want to thank our law enforcement for maintaining order and protecting the safety of everyone at the Capitol. 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.”

NBC Montana reported the standoff began last week when Zephyr, who identifies as a transgender person, scolded lawmakers who support legislation that would ban transgender surgeries for minors. “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, referring to the opening prayer.

Regier indicated Zephyr will not be recognized to speak on the floor until an apology is given. “There’s a reason the speaker can choose not to recognize. I believe that’s there … to [uphold] decorum moving forward. So until that trust is restored and I can assure the integrity of the House is a priority, there’s going to be a pause,” he said, per the Montana Free Press.

Zephyr is showing no signs of backing down.

“For the third consecutive day, I have been denied the opportunity to represent my constituents in the Montana legislature and to speak on their behalf,” Zephyr said in a statement Monday evening.

“When my constituents and community members witnessed my microphone being disabled, they courageously came forward to defend their democratic right to be heard — and some were arrested in the process,” Zephyr added. “I stood by them in solidarity and will continue to do so. As an elected representative, I am devoted to supporting those who speak in defense of democracy, as it is my duty to ensure their voices are heard and respected.”

Montana House Minority Leader Kim Abbott (D-Helena) released a statement voiced support for Zephyr.

“Today we saw Montanans show up and engage in the democratic process, and some of those Montanans were arrested,” 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.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Protesters Disrupt Montana House Over Trans Lawmaker Standoff