Social media giant Facebook is backpedaling after removing a video of a Democratic congresswoman hanging up a Transgender Pride flag outside her office, claiming that the video was “hate speech.”
The removal of the video developed as part of a back-and-forth Twitter war between U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over signs and symbols expressing support for and opposition to, respectively, transgender rights and the Equality Act, a bill being voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon that would enshrine protections for the LGBTQ community in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Taylor Greene previously railed against the Equality Act, calling it “evil” and a “direct attack on God’s creation” in a tweet. She also claimed it “destroys women’s rights, religious rights, and rights of the unborn.”
Taylor Greene also moved — both on Wednesday and Thursday — to adjourn the House session, as a procedural maneuver to block the bill from being introduced, debated, and passed.
On Wednesday, in response to Taylor-Greene’s remarks, Newman, whose daughter is transgender, filmed and posted a video to Twitter and Facebook showing Newman hanging up a Trans Pride flag outside of her office, next to the state flag of Illinois.
“Our neighbor, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is ‘disgusting, immoral, and evil,'” Newman wrote with a winking emoji. “Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so she can 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.”
Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door 😉🏳️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/dV8FatQFnx
— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) February 24, 2021
After Newman hung up her transgender flag, Greene retweeted a video of Newman speaking on the House floor in support of the Equality Act, with Newman declaring: “I’m voting to pass the Equality Act for my daughter — the strongest, bravest person I know.”
Greene tweeted: “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.”
Later in the day, Greene posted a video showing her hanging a sign reading: “There are two genders: Male & Female. ‘Trust the Science!'” across from Newman’s office.
She then wrote, mocking Newman’s earlier tweet: “Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called “Equality” Act to destroy women’s rights and religious freedoms. Thought we’d put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door.”
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
But what should have been limited to a Twitter spat between colleagues took a strange turn when Facebook removed Newman’s video, claiming that it violated the platform’s guidelines on “hate speech and inferiority.”
Newman tweeted: “Facebook took down our video of me putting up the Transgender flag outside my office and labeled it as ‘hate speech.’ Meanwhile, they’re still allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transphobic video to be posted. Supporting transgender Americans is NOT hate speech.”
Facebook took down our video of me putting up the Transgender flag outside my office and labeled it as “hate speech.”
Meanwhile, they’re still allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transphobic video to be posted.
Supporting transgender Americans is NOT hate speech. pic.twitter.com/dU2eXUpZSy
— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) February 25, 2021
Facebook later reposted the video, with Newman providing an update to her Twitter followers.
“More than three hours after we first reached out to Facebook asking for an explanation on why they took down our video, they have now reposted it on our page. Facebook said it was ‘removed in error’ and that they are still reviewing the case.”
More than three hours after we first reached out to Facebook asking for an explanation on why they took down our video, they have now reposted it on our page.
Facebook said it was "removed in error" and that they are still reviewing the case. https://t.co/OpSSwh1Elp
— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) February 25, 2021
Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, tweeted: “Congresswoman, this plainly should not have happened. We’ve restored this content and you have our sincere apologies.”
Newman, appearing on CNN to talk about the Twitter spat with Greene, told host Alisyn Camerota that her hanging the flag was never meant to spark a fight, but only to make a statement about the importance of the Equality Act and transgender rights.
“I felt as though she needed to hear from us,” Newman said, noting she is proud of her daughter. “And what I mean by that is that I just wanted to make a statement so that she sees LGBTQ+ people. And so the symbolism was to put the flag out there so she has to see our community every day.”
Newman told Camerota that when she saw Greene’s sign about two genders, “I thought, ‘Wow, 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. … Further, what I would say is, she’s welcome to her sign, no one’s buying it, and that is not science.”
Other lawmakers denounced Greene’s behavior on Twitter.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted: “This is sad and I’m sorry this happened. Rep Newman’s daughter is transgneder, 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.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), another mother of a transgender child, tweeted in response to the video of Newman’s floor speech. “From the mom of one trans kid to another, we will pass the #EqualityAct — for Evie, for Janak, for thousands more to be able to fully be who they are.”
The co-chairs of Equality PAC, the political arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, denounced Greene’s comments about — and misgendering and dead-naming of — Newman’s daughter.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene’s disgusting and reprehensible attack against Congresswoman Marie Newman’s trans daughter is nothing more than pure hate and must be called out,” Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement. “For a grown woman — especially one in elected office — to attack a child is one of the most deplorable and unconscionable actions we have ever witnessed. But these attacks are not new.
“The type of language used by Ms. Greene and other bigots like her is why there has been a significant increase in violence towards trans people, especially trans people of color. Equality PAC stands in solidarity with Congresswoman Newman and all trans people in condemning these vicious attacks.”
The LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD also condemned Greene’s remarks about Newman’s daughter, transgender Americans, and the Equality Act.
“Rep. Greene is using her platform in Congress to spread misinformation and put transgender children in danger, and is now targeting her colleagues in Congress who are parents of trans kids,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement. “All trans kids deserve our love and protection. Republican leaders in Congress are directly responsible for this unsafe behavior and inaccurate, unconscionable rhetoric against children.
“Rep. Greene’s opposition to The Equality Act and her bill against transgender youth are not based in fact, evidence or reality, and it is dangerous,” Ellis added. “This is exactly why we need The Equality Act, to protect LGBTQ people from the discrimination we face in too many areas of everyday life.”
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