Transgender politician Zooey Zephyr has been barred from participating on the House floor as Republican leaders voted to silence her for the rest of 2023 session after she protested over a decision earlier in the week to silence her.
The punishment of the freshman lawmaker caps a week-long stand-off between House Democrats and Republicans after Ms Zephyr told colleagues last week, you will “see the blood on your hands” over votes to ban gender-affirming medical care for children.
Ms Zephyr will still be able to vote remotely under terms of the punishment.
In a defiant speech on Wednesday she gave before her colleagues voted, Ms Zephyr addressed House Speaker Matt Regier directly and said she was taking a stand for the LGBTQ+ community, her constituents in Missoula and “democracy itself”.
She accused him of taking away the voices of her 11,000 constituents and attempting to drive “a nail in the coffin of democracy” by silencing her.
“If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable, then all you’re doing is using decorum as a tool of oppression,” Ms Zephyr said.
The House Speaker had previously said he would not allow her to speak until she apologised, which Ms Zephyr refused to do.
For the past week, Ms Zephyr has been forbidden from speaking on the House floor.
A protest against lawmakers silencing Ms Zephyr disrupted Monday’s House session.
Authorities arrested seven people in a confrontation that Republicans claim Ms Zephyr had encouraged. The first-term Democrat received notice from House leaders on Tuesday night informing her of the plan to consider disciplinary action against her, according to a letter she posted on social media.
“I’ve also been told I’ll get a chance to speak,” Ms Zephyr tweeted. “I will do as I have always done — rise on behalf of my constituents, in defence of my community and for democracy itself.”
The move to discipline Ms Zephyr is the latest development in a standoff over whether Montana Republicans will let the lawmaker from Missoula speak unless she apologises for her remarks last week on the proposed ban.
Conservative Republicans have repeatedly misgendered Ms Zephyr since the remarks by using incorrect pronouns to describe her.