President Biden celebrated "Coming Out Day" on Monday with a statement expressing love and acceptance for LGBTQ people and attacking state legislators for proposing and passing "discriminatory" and "anti-LGBTQ+ bills." Conservative groups that support those bills shot back, with one group accusing Biden of engaging in "blatant intimidation" with his statement.
In his statement, Biden expressed support for those who identify as LGBTQ and celebrated his administration's moves on these issues, including the numerous Biden appointees who identify as LGBTQ. Yet he also attacked legislators who support bills that Biden attacked as "anti-LGBTQ+" and "discriminatory," tying them to the "bullying and harassment" LGBTQ people face.
"Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character," Biden wrote. "We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
"From defeating discriminatory bills to passing the Equality Act, we have more work to do to ensure that every American can live free of fear, harassment, and discrimination because of who they are or whom they love," the president said.
Garrett Bess, vice president at Heritage Action, a conservative organization that opposes the Equality Act, condemned Biden's rhetoric as an act of intimidation.
"This is yet another example of President Biden choosing the side of extremists on the Left," Bess told Fox News in a statement. "He has used his Justice Department to go after Texas lawmakers who fought to protect unborn children whose hearts are already beating and launched politicized lawsuits smearing voter ID laws as ‘racist.’ Now he is attacking state legislators and forcing his radical views on those who disagree with his so-called ‘Equality’ Act that would endanger women and girls and strip parents of the ability to help their children navigate important life decisions.
"States should stand up to these blatant intimidation attempts and continue to fight back against the increasingly radical Biden administration’s power grabs," he added.
Greg Baylor, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm that has drafted laws intended to prevent males from competing in women's sports and that defends religious freedom, also pushed back on Biden's comments.
"Every person should be treated with dignity and respect. Our laws should protect the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of every citizen, no matter who they are," Baylor told Fox News. "Unfortunately, coercive sexual orientation and gender identity laws, like the so-called Equality Act, undermine both fairness and freedom, targeting those whose views the government doesn’t like.
"Disagreement is not discrimination. From day one, the Biden administration made it clear that it would deny female athletes fair competition, ignore women’s unique health needs, and force vulnerable girls to share intimate spaces with men who identify as female. That is not equality," Baylor argued. "Laws that flatten or ignore any and all differences between men and women harm all of us."
Jennifer Bauwens, a former trauma clinician and current director of the Center for Family Studies at the Family Research Council, a Christian organization that opposes the Equality Act, argued that helping LGBTQ people may mean something different than Biden suggests.
"'Standing up to protect the opportunities, physical safety, and mental health' of those who identify as LGBTQ means a whole lot more – and something wholly different – from what President Biden thinks it means," Bauwens told Fox News. She cited studies finding that rates of childhood abuse are exceptionally high among those who identify as LGBT, and that those who identify as transgender face depression and anxiety rates two to three times higher than the general population.
"There isn’t good evidence to support the claim that those struggling with the deep pain of gender dysphoria experience lasting mental health benefits from what is being offered in most gender clinics – removing healthy sexual organs and body parts or going on puberty blockers and hormones," she added.
Bauwens suggested a more cynical explanation for Biden's views.
"Those who do stand to benefit from these ‘solutions’ are the surgical and pharmaceutical industries, which are expected to enjoy a steep growth curve over the next ten years," she argued. "Those identifying as LGBT deserve better than political platitudes and blockades to real treatment innovation and therapeutic options."