Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr and her partner, journalist and LGBTQ+ activist Erin Reed, are engaged! The couple announced their engagement via Twitter on May 6, sharing that Zephyr proposed at a Montana Queer Prom event. “I can think of no better person in this world to stand side by side with,” Reed tweeted. “She has made me the luckiest woman alive.”

Zephyr is Montana’s first trans lawmaker, and the past month has been particularly turbulent for her as the state’s House of Representatives weighs Montana Senate Bill 99. If passed, SB99 would stop and prohibit gender-affirming care for trans youth by preventing the administration of physically reversible puberty blockers. In an April 18 speech that garnered national media attention, Zephyr called the bill “tantamount to torture” and accused Republican lawmakers of having “blood on your hands” if they voted for it.

Following this, State officials voted to censure Zephyr, who was banned from the House floor on April 26. This action sparked protests and outrage from the Montana LGBTQ+ community, as well as major equal rights organizations. GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis calls the censure an “attack” on democracy and free speech.

As of May 1, Zephyr and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana are suing the state, alleging that the decision violates the lawmaker’s First Amendment rights, as well as the rights of the 11,000 constituents she was elected to represent. Alex Rate, legal director of the ACLU of Montana, says in a statement: “In his craven pursuit to deny transgender youth and their families the health care they need, Speaker Regier has unfairly, unjustly and unconstitutionally silenced those voters by silencing their representative.

Zephyr, now the de facto face of the fight for trans rights in Montana, and Reed, who is known for her reporting on and mapping of legislation that impacts transgender Americans, experienced a ‘swat’ attempt on May 2. ‘Swatting,’ as noted by PinkNews, is “a harassment tactic that involves calling an emergency police response against an innocent target, with the intention of having their home invaded.” Reed shared a tweet saying, “Somebody just attempted to swat me for my reporting on transgender legislation and events. Thankfully, I’ve worked closely with the police in my community anticipating this, and the attempt failed. I will never stop advocating for my community and will never be silenced.”

After weeks of being thrown into the spotlight for devastating reasons, Zephyr and Reed’s engagement is a joyful reminder of the fortitude of queer love. In the face of bigotry, censorship and national media attention, this proposal brings to mind a quote by queer author Jeanette Winterson: “Love demands expression. It will not stay still, stay silent, be good, be modest, be seen and not heard, no. It will break out in tongues of praise, the high note that smashes the glass and spills the liquid.” The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

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Featured image by David Clumpner Photography via Zooey Zephyr on Twitter