- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2024

President Biden stoked more outrage over his decision to honor Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, which was also Easter, by issuing a head-scratching denial Monday as the White House blamed the political backlash on “misinformation.”

As he left the 144th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, Mr. Biden was quizzed by reporters about House Speaker Mike Johnson’s denunciation of the transgender proclamation as “outrageous and abhorrent.”

“Speaker Johnson called it ‘outrageous’ that Easter Sunday was Transgender Day of Visibility. What do you say to Speaker Johnson?” asked a reporter, according to the White House pool report.

Mr. Biden replied: “He’s thoroughly uninformed.”

When pressed for details, the president responded: “I didn’t do that.”

He offered no further explanation, but critics pointed to his proclamation on the White House website honoring Transgender Day of Visibility, which has been held on March 31 since it was created by a transgender activist in 2009.

Also falling this year on March 31 was Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar. The date varies from year to year.

“I, Joseph R. Biden … do hereby proclaim March 31, 2024, as Transgender Day of Visibility,” said the White House proclamation issued Friday and signed by Mr. Biden.

“I call upon all Americans to join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination based on gender identity,” Mr. Biden said in the proclamation.

Mr. Johnson posted the proclamation on X with the comment: “This you, @JoeBiden?”

Conservative media critic Stephen L. Miller asked on X: “Did anyone in the press pool then show him his own statement?”

Rep. Wesley Hunt, Texas Republican, asked on X: “Is the Biden Administration backtracking after the political backlash they’ve received in the last 24 hours?”

Hours later, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused critics of promoting “misinformation.” She said it was “unsurprising that politicians are seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful and dishonest rhetoric.”

“It is dishonest what we have heard the past 24 hours. It is untrue what we heard over the weekend,” she said at the press briefing.

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said Monday that “President Biden is right.”

“He did nothing in conflict with the ‘tenets’ of Easter, which he celebrated yesterday,” Mr. Bates told The Washington Times. “Nor did he choose the date of March 31 for Transgender Day of Visibility, which has been set since 2009.”

Mr. Biden has issued proclamations marking Transgender Day of Visibility since taking office in 2021, but his decision to do so this year with Easter falling on March 31 struck conservative Christians as tone-deaf at best and a slap in the face to Christianity at worst.

Easter is the Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox, or March 21.

“This is a direct assault on Christianity. It’s evident the left is determined to undermine our religion and traditions,” Rep. Diana Harshbarger, Tennessee Republican, said Saturday on X. “This isn’t just blatant disregard, it’s intentional.”

The Trump campaign called the transgender proclamation “appalling and insulting.”

“We call on Joe Biden’s failing campaign and the White House to issue an apology to the millions of Catholics and Christians across America who believe [Easter Sunday] is for one celebration only — the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Trump national press secretary Karoline Leavitt.

Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden issued a statement Sunday sending “our warmest wishes to Christians around the world celebrating Easter Sunday.”

Easter reminds us of hope and the promise of Christ’s resurrection,” they said. “As we gather with loved ones, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice.”

Other Democratic officials, including New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, issued proclamations this year declaring March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility, or TDOV.

After Democrats on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a TDOV declaration, CatholicVote President Brian Burch accused them of choosing “to mock Christianity on its holiest day of the year.”

He said the 15-year-old transgender event should have been moved to avoid conflicting with Easter.

“They may claim that this holiday is always on March 31, but it is a fake and arbitrary observance which was invented in 2009 compared with the 2,000-year history of Easter,” Mr. Burch told The Washington Times. “This would never be tolerated with any other religious tradition, and that’s the point. Christianity is their target.”

Other LGBTQ observances marked by the Biden administration include Pride Month in June, LGBT History Month in October, National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17, and Intersex Awareness Day on Oct. 26.

Republicans also blasted the White House over rules governing the annual children’s egg-decorating contest, which prohibit “religious symbols” and “overtly religious themes,” but those restrictions didn’t start with the Biden administration.

The American Egg Board, which supports the contest, said the guidelines have been in place since 1978.

“The American Egg Board has been a supporter of the White House Easter Egg Roll for over 45 years and the guideline language referenced in recent news reports has consistently applied to the board since its founding, across administrations,” American Egg Board President and CEO Emily Metz said in a statement to news outlets.

• Kerry Picket contributed to this story.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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