Republicans in the Montana state House just voted to formally punish a member of the legislature, Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a trans woman who has been blocked from speaking in chamber since last week. Her crime? Vocalizing the harms of the anti-trans legislation that the state House was considering at the time.
Zephyr is now not only blocked from speaking during floor sessions, but she can also no longer attend them, meaning she will have to vote remotely for the rest of the legislative session. The Democrat upset her Republican colleagues when she remarked that she hoped they saw the “blood on [their] hands” when they bowed their heads to pray, referencing the correlation between trans health care and suicide reduction in young people.
Her Republican colleagues were at the time pushing a bill to ban gender affirming care for minors, one of several anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation that Montana Republicans have introduced this legislative session. The others include a bill that would define sex as binary in state law and a bill to ban drag performances in most public spaces.
Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte — who you may know best as the TPM character who body slammed reporter Ben Jacobs when he asked him a question in May 2017, just before he was elected to Congress — has indicated that he will sign the bill into law, despite widespread backlash and criticism of the move from constituents, the health care community and activists alike.
One of those lobbying him against signing the legislation into law: his own son.
Around the same time Republicans were voting to very literally ostracize and banish a trans member of the state House, the local Montana Free Press published a piece revealing that Gianforte’s son, David Gianforte, was one of many who met with the governor to try to convince him to not sign the bill. David Gianforte met with his father and the governor’s top health adviser on March 27 and read him a prepared statement out loud:
“Hey Dad. Thanks for setting aside time to meet with me, it means a lot to me,” David said. “There are a lot of important issues passing through the legislature right now. For my own sake I’ve chosen to focus primarily on transgender rights, as that would significantly directly affect a number of my friends … I would like to make the argument that these bills are immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights.”
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