A viral tiff between two congresswomen represents where Democrats and Republicans stand on a proposed bill that would extend civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ people.
The Equality Act has been introduced in Congress many times throughout the years. A version of the bill was first introduced in 1974, and an updated version of that bill was first introduced in 2015.
The bill would include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” as classes protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and would also attempt to remove “religious freedom” as a “license to discriminate” people on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Republicans oppose the bill, calling it a legislative overreach and a violation of First Amendment rights on the grounds of freedom of religion.
The bill most recently passed the House of Representatives in 2019 but was not touched by the Senate for two years. On Tuesday, with a new Congress having been seated, House Democrats again re-introduced the bill in emotional testimony on Tuesday.
Among those who spoke Tuesday for the bill’s passage was Rep. Marie Newman (D-Illinois). During her speech, Newman said she was voting for the bill in honor of her transgender daughter.
“The right time to pass this act was decades ago. The second best time is right now,” Newman said. “I’m voting yes on the Equality Act for Evie Newman, my daughter and the strongest, bravest person I know.”
Without the Equality Act, millions of Americans like my daughter can be denied housing, education, and more simply because they identify as transgender.— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) February 24, 2021
I’m voting to pass the Equality Act for my daughter - the strongest, bravest person I know. pic.twitter.com/vnt6yeDQOh
Among those who opposed the bill was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), a freshman congresswoman who has already been removed from her committee assignments due to her conspiratorial views.
Newman and Taylor Greene have offices in the Capitol directly across from each other. On Wednesday afternoon, Newman tweeted a video of her putting up a transgender pride flag in front of her office so Taylor Greene could “look at it every time she opens her door.”
Our neighbor, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is “disgusting, immoral, and evil.”— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) February 24, 2021
Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door 😉🏳️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/dV8FatQFnx
"I just wanted to make a statement so she sees LGBTQ+ people," Newman said in an interview on CNN Thursday. "The symbolism was just to put the flag out there so she has to see our community every day."
Hours later, Taylor Greene responded with her own video, posting a sign outside of her office door that read “There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE. ‘Trust the science!’”
Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called "Equality" Act to destroy women’s rights and religious freedoms.— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) February 24, 2021
Thought we’d put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door 😉🇺🇸 https://t.co/7joKpTh6Dc pic.twitter.com/aBGRSiIF6X
Newman told CNN Thursday that she found Taylor Greene's decision to put up the sign "kind of wild on a bunch of fronts."
"She has a lot of time on her hands, because she would have to go get that printed and decide that this is the right thing to do," Newman said.
"She’s welcome to her sign. No one is buying it, and that is not science," she added.
Taylor Greene’s sign prompted outrage from both Republicans and Democrats alike.
“There’s no lower low than going after someone’s kids,” Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia) tweeted Wednesday.
There’s no lower low than going after someone’s kids.— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) February 25, 2021
What a horrible performance by Congress’ worst transphobic conspiracy theorist. Stay (Q)lassy, Marjorie.
I stand with you, @RepMarieNewman. https://t.co/WmuPNVi3NE
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), also came to Newman’s defense.
“This is sad and I’m sorry this happened,” Kinzinger wrote. “Rep. Newmans daughter is transgender, and this video and tweet represents the hate and fame driven politics of self-promotion at all evil costs. This garbage must end, in order to #RestoreOurGOP.”
This is sad and I’m sorry this happened. Rep. Newmans daughter is transgender, and this video and tweet represents the hate and fame driven politics of self-promotion at all evil costs. This garbage must end, in order to #RestoreOurGOP https://t.co/gcPZ5Cu7Vr— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) February 25, 2021
Newman added Thursday that she remains "immensely proud of her daughter."
"That’s all anyone is asking for, is to be treated as anyone else. And that’s what I want Rep. Greene to see,” Newman told CNN.