A transgender state legislature in Montana is facing demands to be censored over comments made as part of the legislature’s efforts to pass changes to a law that would ban sex reassignment treatments for minors.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a bisexual and the first transgender lawmaker in Montana Legislature history, drew criticism Tuesday after telling Republicans during a House debate on amendments to Senate Bill 99 that they “draw blood.” your hands,” a concept that lawmakers hope will be present in their prayers.
“The only thing I’m going to say is if you vote yes to this bill and these amendments, I hope that the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you’ll put on the blood see your hands,” said Zephyr.
Majority Leader Sue Vinton interjected to remind her peers that they “can discuss matters civilly and with respect for one another.”
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Zephyr’s comments came as the state house voted and debated changes to the measure proposed by Montana’s Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican who had indicated he supports the law and is likely to sign it.
The law would ban certain medical procedures for transgender minors, but Gianforte proposed changes on Monday to clarify that public money could not be used to pay for surgeries or hormone treatments for youth diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
“I share your deep commitment to protecting children in Montana from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies,” he wrote in a letter to lawmakers offering his changes.
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Following Zephyr’s comments from inside the House, the Montana Freedom Caucus, which includes more than 20 state lawmakers, issued a statement calling for Zephyr to be censured for the “hateful rhetoric.”
The Montana Freedom Caucus is demanding that Rep. Zooey Zephyr of Missoula’s home district 100 be reprimanded by the House of Representatives for attempting to shame the Montana Legislature and making inappropriate remarks during a debate on amendments to Senate Bill 99 — prohibiting sex and used inappropriate language changes in minor children,” the group said in a press release. “This law has already passed the House and Senate of Montana, and debate has centered on changes requested by the governor.”
“This type of hateful rhetoric from an elected official is precisely why tragedies like the Covenant Christian School shooting in Nashville occurred,” the group concluded in the release. “Combined with former Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson’s recent calls for ‘jihad’ and ‘fight to the death’, there is unmistakable evidence of a desire by some to engage in violence based on political beliefs. That has to stop.”
Senate Bill 99 previously passed a predominantly partisan vote in the Republican-controlled Legislature. After the House of Representatives voted 66-34 in favor of Gianforte’s proposed changes, just a day after the Senate approved it 31-19, the bill now heads back to the governor’s desk for signing.
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At least 13 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting the treatment of minors for sex reassignment surgery, and three states have prohibited or restricted such treatment through regulations or administrative orders. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of the laws in Alabama and Arkansas. The Missouri Attorney General last week issued an emergency ban restricting treatment of adults.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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