Montana's first transgender legislator, Rep. Zooey Zephyr, who made national headlines recently after being censured by the state House, got engaged to her girlfriend, trans activist and writer Erin Reed, at a queer prom event in Missoula, Montana, on Friday.
"Now more than ever, it is vital to uplift and cherish queer joy," the couple said Monday in a joint statement to NBC News. "We are so incredibly fortunate to have found each other and to work side by side, caring for one another and advocating for our community together."
Now, they get to do that work for the rest of their lives, they said.
"We can’t put into words just how much it fills our hearts to see the news of our engagement bringing so much happiness to the community when it is needed most," the couple said. "We love each other so much, and to see our love resonate with so many reminds us that queer love will live forever."
Zephyr gave a speech at Missoula's Queer Prom Friday and described the importance of different types of love, including communal love and interpersonal love.
As she addressed the crowd, Zephyr invited Reed to stand next to her.
"I could not do the things I do in that legislature without her to come home to every night," Zephyr, a Democrat, said of Reed. "I think about love, and I think about trans love having been throughout history, to the past, to the future and to the present moment, and I am so blessed to have Erin by my side."
At one point, Zephyr asked Missoula's Queer Prom attendees if they would share a moment with her, and then she turned and proposed to Reed. The room erupted into cheers, and Reed said yes.
Reed wrote in her newsletter Monday that she was happy to share the joyful story with her readers after what she and Zephyr have experienced recently.
Last month, the Montana House voted to censure Zephyr, barring her from the House floor and only allowing her to vote on legislation remotely, after she was accused of inciting protesters in the chamber two days earlier.
The events started when Zephyr told colleagues on the House floor on April 18 that they would have blood on their hands if they supported a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.
House Republicans asked her to apologize for the comment on behalf of decorum, but she refused, and they voted not to allow her to speak for three days. Protesters descended on the Capitol on the third day, April 24, and chanted "Let her speak!" from the House gallery. Zephyr defiantly raised her microphone in the air. Two days later, House Republicans voted to censure her for the remainder of the legislative session, which ended last week.
The bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors ultimately passed, and Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, signed it into law, making Montana one of 18 states with laws that restrict such care.
Since Zephyr's censure, she shared on social media that she and Reed have been the targets of swatting, which is a harassment technique where someone falsely reports an emergency situation to law enforcement in an effort to send police to someone's home.
Reed wrote in her newsletter, which focuses on transgender rights, that the couple met about a year ago due to their work in LGBTQ rights activism. Reed is one of three researchers who have helped create a comprehensive list of the more than 500 state bills targeting LGBTQ rights so far this year.
Reed, who is based in Washington, D.C., said it wasn't long before she and Zephyr began making cross-country trips to visit each other. She said they talked about getting engaged, but they discussed waiting until the summer.
"Clearly, Zooey had other plans," Reed wrote.
"In a world where trans people often face adversity and their lives are scrutinized, Zooey and I had the opportunity on Friday night to present an alternative vision," Reed wrote. "In this world, joy takes center stage, allowing us to create a world we are proud to inhabit, where love wins. I am honored to embark on this journey by her side."