© Reuters. Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr leaves the House chamber after a motion to bar her passed, at the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Montana, U.S. April 26, 2023. Rep. Zephyr will still be able to vote on bills remotely. REUTERS/Mike Clark

(Reuters) – Montana statehouse Republicans on Wednesday censured Democratic transgender legislator Zooey Zephyr for breaking decorum after she said lawmakers who backed a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for minors would have “blood on their hands.”

Under the motion that passed with a vote of 68-32, Zephyr will be allowed to vote but not participate in debates on the Montana House of Representatives floor for the remainder of the legislative session.

The discord in Montana has festered since an April 18 debate over Senate Bill 99, which would ban transgender healthcare treatments aimed at minors, such as puberty blockers and hormones.

Zephyr, a first-term representative from Missoula, said in a House debate that denying such care was “tantamount to torture,” and that a ban would lead to more suicides.

“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 said.

In response, the Republican supermajority silenced her within the chamber until she apologized, prompting a large protest by Zephyr supporters at the state house on Monday.

When protesters in the gallery disrupted the session by chanting “Let her speak!,” the House speaker ordered representatives to abandon the floor, but Zephyr stayed in place, pointing a microphone toward her supporters.

Seven demonstrators were arrested, and Republicans increased their attention on Zephyr, with the ultraconservative Montana Freedom Caucus on Monday urging she be punished.

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