"I'm immensely proud of my daughter and that's all anyone is asking for, to be treated like anyone else," Rep. Marie Newman said of the conflict with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

By Virginia Chamlee
February 25, 2021 12:35 PM
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Congresswoman Marie Newman
Rep. Marie Newman
| Credit: Courtesy Congresswoman Marie Newman

Democratic Rep. Marie Newman is speaking out this week after Republican colleague Marjorie Taylor Greene escalated their dispute over an LGBTQ bill by mocking Newman's transgender daughter with a transphobic sign outside her office.

Greene's response was criticized by White House officials and some fellow Republicans. It capped off a back-and-forth between her and Newman, a 56-year-old Chicago lawmaker, following a contentious House debate on the Equality Act, which would extend federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people but which conservatives say does not have sufficient protections for religious groups.

After Greene — a 46-year-old freshman lawmaker from Georgia — attempted to block the bill, Newman shared a video on Twitter on Wednesday of herself putting up a transgender pride flag outside her office, which is across the hall from Greene's.

"Our neighbor, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is 'disgusting, immoral, and evil,' " Newman wrote in the caption. "Thought we'd put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door."

Greene, who has made stirring up controversy the defining part of her political brand, responded to Newman in personal terms.

"As mothers, we all love and support our children. But your biological son does NOT belong in my daughters' bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams," Greene wrote in one tweet.

Later, the Republican — who, notably, has defended not wearing a face mask amid a pandemic despite scientific evidence that they can help control the spread of the virus — posted her own video.

In it, Greene hangs a sign across from Newman's office that reads: "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," Greene wrote in the caption of her video. "Thought we'd put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door."

In an interview with CNN, Newman said her display of the transgender flag was "never meant to be a fight" with Greene.

"It was a statement I felt very necessary," Newman said on New Day on Thursday. "You know, this woman has supported insurrection. She voted against the election. She believes in a wide variety of conspiracy theories. She has been called out any number of times."

Newman continued: "She tried to block the Equality Act and I felt as though she needed to hear from us ... I just wanted to make a statement so that she sees LGBTQ+ people, and so the symbolism was simply to put the flag out there so that she has to see our community every day. I'm immensely proud of my daughter and that's all anyone is asking for, to be treated like anyone else. And that's what I want Rep. Greene to see."

When asked what her initial reaction was when she saw Greene's sign, Newman said on CNN: "I thought, 'Wow, she's got a lot of time on her hands because she would have to go that that printed and decide that this is what she wants to do.' Kind of wild, on a bunch of fronts."

Several Republicans slammed Greene's actions.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger — who has previously criticized Greene for her support of conspiracy theories like QAnon — wrote on Twitter that he was "sorry this happened" to Newman.

"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," Kinzinger wrote. "This garbage must end, in order to#RestoreOurGOP."

Commentator Guy Benson tweeted: "Many of us oppose the Equality Act's overreach. We can and should express critiques with kindness and tolerance, not gratuitous cruelty."

When asked for further comment, a spokesperson for Greene told PEOPLE that her sign was still up.

House Candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
| Credit: Dustin Chambers/Getty

Greene has drawn widespread backlash not just for her past support of wild conspiracy theories but also for unearthed social media posts in which she appeared to endorse calls for violence against lawmakers.

She was also seen in videos badgering a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting who had become an advocate to reduce gun violence.

She has since distanced herself from how she talked about conspiracy theories and said her social media posts were being unfairly singled out versus other, more normal posts. She also tweeted, and then deleted, a claim that "teams of people" who handle her social media may have been responsible.

Greene's history of incendiary behavior has led to calls for her resignation and a meeting between with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.

Earlier this month, the House stripped Greene of her committee assignments (she had been a member of the Education and Budget committees) in an unusual show of disapproval.