By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The top Democrat in the Minnesota House says she will not apologize for calling out her male colleagues, who she says are “silencing” women lawmakers — especially women of color.

DFL Minority Leader Melissa Hortman filed a letter of protest with the House Tuesday and told a State Capitol rally of mostly women that she is “not going to take it anymore.”

Rep. Hortman used a barnyard expletive describing how women are treated at the legislature, and she says she’s not sorry for bringing it up.

Mostly women showed up for a Capitol rally supporting Democratic Leader Hortman, who Republicans are accusing of sexism and racism for comments about white male colleagues.

melissa hortman DFL Minority Leader Not Backing Down From Capitol Sexism, Racism Claims

Rep. Melissa Hortman (credit: CBS)

“Part of why what I said touched a nerve is so many of us have had that experience of being ignored,” Hortman said. “And let’s not just let it go anymore. Let’s call b******t when we see it.”

She is under fire for breaking an unwritten House code as lawmakers were drifting away during emotional speeches by women of color.

“I hate to break up the 100-percent while-male card game in the Retiring Room,” she said.

Hortman filed a formal response with the House, rejecting the Republican demand for an apology.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt is accusing her of “trying to divide the state.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’ve got a lot of work to do on behalf of all Minnesotans, of every race, of every gender, of every sex,” Daudt said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’re committed to doing that work. This is a sideshow.”

Rally protesters carried signs supporting Hortman, who told WCCO that women are frustrated by a lifetime of being ignored.

“This is a common experience that women have, of being talked over, being interrupted, having somebody else articulate an idea after you articulated it and then all of a sudden it sounds like a good idea,” she said. “This is a very common experience.”

Rep. Hortman says she does not want the Minnesota legislature to silence “black and brown voices.”

She says she’s trying to raise awareness — and she certainly did that.

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