President Joe Biden condemned a Florida law restricting LGBTQ rights as “cruel” and “close to sin” in a Monday night appearance on “The Daily Show.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential nominee, and the state’s Republican-dominated legislature have enacted laws that ban classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools. They are also considering bills to block medical care for transgender youth, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery, and to grant courts emergency jurisdiction over children receiving gender-affirming care. The state is at the start of its 2023 legislative session, and is considering several other bills to advance LGBTQ rights.
Biden said, “What’s happening in Florida is, as my mother would say, ‘closer to sinners’.” “It’s just awful what they’re doing.”
“It’s not like a kid wakes up one morning and says, ‘You know, I’ve decided I want to be a man or I want to be a woman,'” he said. “I mean, what are they thinking here? They’re human, they love, they have feelings, they have inclinations. It’s cruel.”
DeSantis hit back at Biden’s comments in a do posted Tuesday defending her efforts to ban gender-affirming care, which she called “the mutilation of minors.”
“It is not acceptable for the federal government to order procedures such as sex change operations for children,” DeSantis said.
Biden said the way to respond was to pass legislation “like we did with same-sex marriage.” Last year, Biden signed legislation codifying protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.
“You mess with it, you’re breaking the law and you’re being held accountable,” he said.
The House has twice passed the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ rights bill that would expand federal protections in areas including employment, housing and education to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Although Biden said the act was a priority for his first 100 days in office, it did not receive a vote in the Senate during his term.
Kal Penn, an actor and former staffer in the Obama-Biden administration, conducted the interview with Biden, where he also asked about the origins of the president’s support for gay marriage. Biden recalled a scene when he was a senior in high school and saw two men kissing each other.
“I turned and looked at my dad. He said, ‘Joey, it’s simple, they love each other,'” Biden said. “It’s that simple.”