Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill on Friday prohibiting gender transition treatments for minors.
Senate Bill 99 was enacted after state House Republicans approved it earlier in the week. The governor’s signature also comes after controversy over a transgender state lawmaker’s opposition to the bill.
Democrat Rep. Zooey Zephyr was censured on Wednesday by House Republicans in response to a testimony delivered on April 18 claiming GOP lawmakers who support the measure would have blood on their hands.
“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 said at the time.
The legislation bans puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and transgender surgeries for children. Similar bills have been pushed in other GOP-led states across the country.
Zephyr also purported that denying gender transition medical care to youth was “tantamount to torture” and that a ban would lead to increased suicides among transgender children.
The censure, passed by a 68 to 32 vote, meaning Zephyr will be excluded from the House Floor for the remainder of the legislative session, which ends May 10. The lawmaker will still be allowed to vote remotely.
Republican lawmakers accused Zephyr of presenting “hate-filled testimony” during the April 18 testimony. They initially responded to Zephyr’s statements on the Floor by turning off her microphone. Republican Speaker Matt Regier also later refused to acknowledge Zephyr’s request to speak on a separate bill to include a binary definition of male and female in the state code.
During a speech before the censure vote, Zephyr claimed to be standing up for “democracy itself.”
“If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable, then all you’re doing is using decorum as a tool of oppression,” Zephyr said.
Protestors gathered in the gallery at the Montana Statehouse earlier this week to demand Zephyr be allowed to speak. Seven arrests were made on Monday in connection with the protest. Zephyr said the people arrested were “defending democracy.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who represents Montana, said the censure is “extreme” and “undemocratic.”
“I served in the Montana legislature for years, working with everyone to get things done for Montana,” he wrote in a tweet on Friday. “Let’s be clear: banning a duly-elected representative is an extreme, undemocratic step that harms the thousands of Montanans who no longer have a voice in their government.”
Reuters contributed to this report.