Judge Rejects Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr's Effort to Return to House as She Says 'Swat' Call Made Against Her

Zooey Zephyr
Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr on the House floor before she was censured and banned from the chamber for criticizing lawmakers' efforts to slash transgender rights.Zooey Zephyr/Twitter

Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr's request for a court order to return to work was rejected by a judge. Zephyr and her girlfriend said "swat" attempts were made against them as they spoke out for transgender rights.

A Montana judge has rejected Rep. Zooey Zephyr's request for a court order allowing her to return to work after she was silenced and banned from the House floor for criticizing the state's efforts to slash transgender rights.

Zephyr, a Democrat from Missoula, had sued the state earlier this week and asked for immediate relief from a ban approved by legislators that barred her from the House chamber. Zephyr, the first trans woman elected to state office, has been an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ community.

She was exiled from Republican-controlled chamber last week after speaking against a ban on hormone treatments and surgical care for transgender minors. Her comments resulted in Republicans silencing her and prompted protests and arrests from supporters who chanted, "Let her speak!"

The Montana Legislature voted to adjourn its session late Tuesday. Its last scheduled meeting date was to be Friday.

Meanwhile, Zephyr and her girlfriend both said they had been targeted by "swat" attempts on Tuesday.

“Someone just attempted to SWAT me as well,” Zephyr wrote on her Twitter account Tuesday night. “I am fine. An individual reported an anonymous tip targeting my home in Missoula, and the police recognized that it was likely a hoax and called me. I will say again. We will not be deterred. The fight for trans rights goes on.”

Girlfriend Erin Reed, a journalist and transgender activist, wrote earlier Tuesday on her Twitter site, "Somebody just attempted to SWAT me for my reporting on transgender legislation and events. Thankfully, I've worked closely with the police in my community anticipating this, and the attempt failed. I will never stop advocating for my community and will never be silenced."

Both women said police had contacted them before sending an armed response to reports the women were in danger.

"They didn’t have to come to bust my door down,” Reed told The Advocate Tuesday. "They were going to be on their way to do a wellness check, but they wanted to call because they said that they had a note or a message that they had received information saying that I was being held hostage," she said.

The "swat" reports were made against Reed's Maryland residence and Zephyr's home in Missoula, the women said.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, Zephyr claimed her First Amendment rights, and those of her 11,000 constituents, had been violated by her banishment from the House floor. “I’m determined to defend the right of the people to have their voices heard,” she posted on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the state’s Republican attorney general said the legal action was “political activism masquerading as a lawsuit.”

First District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled late Tuesday that he lacked authority to overrule the Legislature's decision to ban Zephyr from the House. A few hours later, the Legislature voted to adjourn for the current session.

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