Trans Montana Lawmaker Sues State Over Being Censured and Banned From House Floor

Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr has sued the state after the lawmaker was censured and banned from the House floor over comments she made about transgender issues.

Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr has sued the state over being censured and banned from the House chamber in a surging stalemate over her comments about conservative Republican efforts to slash transgender rights.

"The recent actions violate my 1st amendment rights," Zephyr tweeted Monday in announcing her lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana and other lawyers.

Zephyr, who became the state's first trans woman to hold public office after November's election, said the the rights of her 11,000 constituents had also been violated by a bill that bans hormone treatments and surgical care for transgender teens. The legislation was signed into law Friday by GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte.

"Montana's State House is the people’s House  ...  And I’m determined to defend the right of the people to have their voices heard," Zephyr tweeted. 

A spokeswoman for Montana's Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen called the legal action “political activism masquerading as a lawsuit," and said “any relief granted by the court would be a gross violation of the separation of powers.”

The 33-year-old lawmaker has been at odds with conservative lawmakers since April 18, when she spoke against the transgender bill, saying denying transition care to trans teens was “tantamount to torture” and that Republicans who supported the restrictions would have “blood on your hands.”

Those remarks enraged some legislators and House speaker Matt Regier said she wouldn't be allowed to speak again until she apologized. Zephyr refused, and last week the House voted 68 to 32 in the Republican-controlled chamber to ban her from the floor.

Since then, Zephyr has been exiled to working remotely and has been sitting in a hallway outside the House chamber. Even so, House officials told her she couldn't work there because it was a "public" area. 

Her banishment runs until Friday, the end of the current legislative session.

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