Montana Democratic State Representative Zooey Zephyr, a biological male who identifies as a woman, announced a lawsuit on Monday after being censured by House leadership for spouting anti-Christian rhetoric and "encouraging an insurrection."
What's the background?
During a House of Representatives debate two weeks ago regarding legislation that would ban performing sex-change operations on children, Zephyr made anti-Christian comments at Republican colleagues during a closing argument.
"The only thing I will say is if you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there's an invocation when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands," Zephyr stated.
On April 20, the House voted to censure Zephyr for the remainder of the 2023 season following the lawmaker's "hate-filled testimony."
While Zephyr is no longer permitted to enter the anteroom or gallery, the lawmaker can still vote remotely.
The following week, protesters descended on the state Capitol to support Zephyr, shutting down the legislative session.
When instructed to clear the floor, Zephyr stayed and held up a microphone while protesters chanted, "Let her speak."
Following the incident, the Montana Freedom Caucus accused Zephyr of "encouraging an insurrection."
"Due to Zephyr's actions, the Montana Freedom Caucus is calling for immediate disciplinary action against Democrat Representative Zooey Zephyr of Missoula," the Freedom Caucus stated.
In response to the censure, Republican House Speaker Matt Regier issued a statement explaining the decision.
"Currently all Representatives in the Montana House are free to participate in debate while following House rules," Regier said. "The choice to not follow House rules is one that Rep. Zephyr has made. The only person silencing Rep. Zephyr is Rep. Zephyr. The Montana House will not be bullied. All 100 Representatives will be treated the same."
Zephyr files a lawsuit
On Monday, Zephyr announced that a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana against the Montana House leadership for the censure.
"I'm suing," the representative posted on Twitter. "The recent actions violate my 1st amendment rights, as well as the rights of my 11,000 constituents to representation."
"Montana's State House is the people's House, not Speaker Regier's, and I'm determined to defend the right of the people to have their voices heard," Zephyr stated.
The lawsuit alleged that the House leadership's actions to censure Zephyr were "unconstitutional" and based on "not just what she said, but who she is."
A spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told Fox News Digital that the lawsuit is "performance litigation."
"This is performance litigation – political activism masquerading as a lawsuit," the spokesperson stated. "The ACLU is trying to use the courts to interfere with the legislature as it carries out its constitutional duties on behalf of Montanans. Any relief granted by the court would be a gross violation of the separation of powers."
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