Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The silencing of democracy

| May 4, 2023 12:00 AM

Wednesday, April 26, 2023, was a sad day for Montana. The Montana House of Representatives voted along party lines to bar Representative Zooey Zephyr from the house chamber’s floor, anteroom, and gallery. She can only vote remotely, which impedes her ability to represent and speak on behalf of her constituents. This is unprecedented in the state’s modern history.

Before Wednesday, Speaker of the House Matt Regier silenced Representative Zephyr after she made remarks opposing Senate Bill 99. In these remarks, she suggested that Republicans would have “blood on their hands” for supporting Senate Bill 99. Senate Bill 99 would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

Representative Regier stated that Representative Zephyr’s remarks breached decorum. Decorum is defined as acceptable standards of conduct and a state or condition of being calm. The Republicans and the Montana Freedom Caucus have continually misgendered Representative Zephyr. This is considered a breach of decorum, because this is not an acceptable standard of conduct.

The Republicans have stated that the protest on Monday was a “violent insurrection.” This was not a violent insurrection; the only weapons the protesters had were words. This is another example of the Republican Party using its power to silence people. This is shameful, undemocratic and it is wrong.

The Republicans have wasted our time and tax dollars this legislative session because they have chosen to silence Representative Zephyr and pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation rather than take care of the real issues in Montana such as housing and improving infrastructure. The Republicans are more concerned with taking away our freedom of speech and right to privacy than true governing or democracy.

Shirley Azzopardi