FACT CHECK: 13 Claims President Biden Made at the White House Pride Event
President Biden spoke Wednesday in the East Room of the White House at an event to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month. “The message is simple,” he said. “Pride is back at the White House.” Pride may be back, but what about reality? Here are 13 claims from President Biden’s speech. What’s true? What’s false?
Claim 1: “From day one, this has been the most pro-equality administration in history, led by guys like Pete Buttigieg and so many others."
On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued two executive orders that advanced the LGBT agenda. The first, “on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” “requires federal agencies to interpret federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination (including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) as also prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to FRC Action. The second, “on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” according to FRC Action, “directs the executive branch to pursue comprehensive policies that elevate the LGBT agenda.” The Biden administration has consistently reversed Trump-era protections for women, children, and religious freedom where they conflicted with the LGBT agenda, instead reinstating and expanding Obama-era policies. For a full list of relevant actions by the Biden administration, click here.
By “pro-equality,” President Biden meant “pro-LGBT.” Given that meaning, Biden’s claim about his administration is: TRUE
Claim 2: “I think we have more LGBTQ+ people than any administration or every administration combined.”
The Biden administration advertises its LGBT personnel as a badge of pride. In his 2021 Pride Month proclamation, Biden claimed “nearly 14% of my 1,500 agency appointees identify as LGBTQ+,” which comes out to nearly 210. The pro-LGBT Victory Institute gives a similar figure, listing more than 200 Biden appointees who identify as LGBT. That percentage is twice as high as the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT (7.1%), according to a Gallup survey released in February 2022.
Finding an apples-to-apples comparison is challenging because previous administrations did not advertise the LGBT personnel to the same extent. Given that only 14% of people who identify as LGBT voted for Donald Trump in 2016, it is unlikely his administration contained more, although there were several, including the first cabinet-level official. In 2010, an estimated “more than 150” people who identified as LGBT were serving in the Obama administration, breaking the Clinton administration’s previous record of “nearly 140.” Before President Clinton, under a 1953 executive order, “sexual perversion” disqualified individuals from federal service.
The Biden administration has more LGBT-identifying appointees than “any administration,” but not “every administration combined.” Therefore, his claim is: PARTLY TRUE
Claim 3: “As commander-in-chief, I’m proud to have ended the un-American ban on transgender Americans serving in our military.”
On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed an “Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform.” The order revoked a Trump-era memorandum titled “Military Service by Transgender Individuals,” which stated, “persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.” Biden’s order cited a 2016 (Obama-era) study, which concluded “that permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity.” The Trump-era policy was not an outright ban on anyone who claimed to be the other sex, but a recognition that individuals who were diagnosed with a mental disorder (gender dysphoria) and required substantial medical treatment were unfit for military service. Therefore, Biden’s characterization is: FALSE.
Claim 4: “We’re also proud to have signed an executive order on my first day in office to combat discrimination against LGBTQL — IA, excuse me — + Americans in housing, in health care, in education, in employment, financial service, and the criminal justice system.”
President Biden is referring to his January 20, 2021 “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” mentioned above. It reasons, “In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination ‘because of … sex’ covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Under Bostock’s reasoning, laws that prohibit sex discrimination … prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation” (citations omitted). The order directed agencies to reinterpret their executive orders under “Title VII or any other statute or regulation that prohibits sex discrimination.”
Has the effect of the order been to “combat discrimination” as it, and Biden, claimed? Here are a few examples:
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development complained that “transgender women,” who are biological males self-identifying as women, “reported being excluded from women’s shelters” and required women’s shelters — even battered women’s shelters — to admit biological males. Such policies have made women victims of sexual assault.
- The Department of Health and Human Services criticized “existing trends in health care discrimination” in a proposed rule that would “force insurers to cover ‘gender transition’ procedures,” which are not supported by existing medical data. Those trends may include examples like this one, when a woman who identified and appeared to be a man “arrived at the hospital with severe abdominal pains [labor pains], a nurse didn't consider it an emergency, noting that he was obese and had stopped taking blood pressure medicines,” and the result was a stillborn baby.
- A Department of Education Notice of Interpretation avoided specifics, but local regulations conforming to their guidance would look similar to a Loudoun County, Virginia policy which states, “students shall be allowed to use the facility that corresponds to their consistently asserted gender identity.” Last summer, school board officials tried to cover up a sexual assault in the ladies’ restroom of a Loudoun County high school by a male student wearing a skirt.
Far from “combating discrimination,” the effect of President Biden’s executive order is to impute sinister motives to normal behaviors; therefore, this claim is: FALSE.
Claim 5: “My order will use the full force the federal government to prevent inhumane practices of conversion therapy. This is the first time the federal government is leading a coordinated response against this dangerous, discredited practice.”
President Biden signed another executive order at the June 15 pride event, “on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals.” The order targets “dangerous practices like so-called ‘conversion therapy’ — efforts to suppress or change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression — a discredited practice that research indicates can cause significant harm, including higher rates of suicide-related thoughts and behaviors by LGBTQI+ youth.”
Sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which the Left likes to call “conversion therapy,” “are efforts to help people with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions overcome those attractions and/or abstain from homosexual behavior,” according to an issue analysis by Family Research Council. It “may include professional therapy or less formal (often religious) counseling.” Sexual orientation can change, and SOCE are indispensable to those who wish to do so. Counseling efforts which encourage people to change their self-identification from heterosexual or from their biological sex to something else are not restricted by this order, only counseling efforts to help people regain a self-identity that aligns with their biological sex.
According to Dr. Quentin Van Meter, president of the American College of Pediatricians, what Biden calls “conversion therapy” actually helps people “who have an incongruence of gender with their biological sex” by “affirming their biologic sex within their body.” In seeking to ban this work, it is Biden who “is actually condoning a conversion.” While people who struggle with their sexual orientation and gender identity are more likely to suffer other mental health issues, Van Meter said, “hormone therapies and surgeries does not take away that depression, nor that tendency towards suicide” because they do not “take care of their mental health and the deep dimensions that cause these problems.”
Because President Biden’s order aims to restrict helpful practices while omitting harmful ones, this claim is: FALSE.
Claim 6: “I don’t have to tell you about the ultra-MAGA agenda attacking families and our freedoms: 300 discriminatory bills introduced in states across this country … ”
President Biden cited a figure from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an organization that aggressively promotes the LGBT agenda. While there isn’t an itemized list, HRC does say they counted, “dozens upon dozens of bills that try to ban trans kids from playing sports or receiving life-saving health care.” This brief description reveals: 1) two types of bills that comprise part of HRC’s count, and 2) how HRC is mischaracterizing these bills.
The first category is bills to protect women’s sports. On average, human males have a biological advantage in athletics because their bodies are bigger, stronger, and faster than females. When allowed to compete in women’s events, men who identify as transgender have dominated in swimming, track, and weightlifting, among others. At least 18 states have passed bills to protect women’s sports by requiring athletes to compete in competitions limited to their biological sex. Such bills do not “ban trans kids from playing sports,” but they do require them to compete on an equal playing field.
The second category is bills to protect children from gender transition procedures, which “include the use of drugs to block normal puberty, cross-sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgery.” Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, Director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, writes, “each of these procedures has serious negative side effects—up to and including permanent sterilization. Despite claims to the contrary, these procedures are often not reversible, and they are not evidence-based.”
Because President Biden described commonsense protections for women and children as “discriminatory,” this claim is: FALSE.
Claim 7: “… In Texas, knocking on front doors to harass and investigate parents who are raising transgender children …”
On February 22, 2022, a letter from Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) instructed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that “the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has now confirmed in the enclosed opinion that a number of so-called ‘sex change’ procedures constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.” As a result, “it is already against the law to subject Texas children to a wide variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.” In addition to investigating “including doctors, nurses, and teachers” — mandatory reporters — who fail to report such child abuse, “Texas law also imposes a duty on DFPS to investigate the parents of a child who is subjected to these abusive gender-transitioning procedures.”
According to this letter, Texas parents whose children identify as transgender will not be investigated if they allow the child to develop normally and do not subject the child to experimental procedures that constitute abuse under Texas law. Additionally, nothing in the letter indicates that such investigations would necessarily involve harassment, or even knocking on front doors (although home visits may be a part of due diligence).
Based on the false characterizations, Biden’s claim is: MOSTLY FALSE.
Claim 8: “… In Florida, going after Mickey Mouse, for God’s sake.”
On March 28, 2022, Florida passed into law the Parental Rights in Education bill, which became effective on July 1. The Washington Post claimed that critics have “successfully” labeled the bill “the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law,” even though the law does not contain the word “gay.” Instead, the law requires schools to inform parents about curriculum and prohibits teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade, “or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
Earlier in March, Disney’s CEO unsuccessfully lobbied Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) against the parental rights bill. Disney then doubled down on its pro-LGBT stance; in one leaked video, an executive promised to implement a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” throughout its programming. In response, the Florida state government passed a law dissolving Disney World’s independent special district.
While today’s Disney is nearly unrecognizable from the company that introduced Mickey Mouse, the Florida government did target Disney — after Disney unwisely picked a fight with a commonsense parental rights bill. Biden’s claim is: MOSTLY TRUE.
Claim 9: “My executive order also will take on discrimination that children and parents face in foster care.”
Biden’s June 15, 2022 executive order instructed the HHS to “promote equity and inclusion for LGBTQI+ foster and adoptive parents in their interactions with the child welfare system.” This will likely build on the department’s action from November 19, 2021 to rescind waivers “previously granted to faith-based adoption and foster care agencies so that they could continue operating without fear of government discrimination or violating their conscience,” according to FRC Action.
The context for this controversy is the 2021 Supreme Court ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, where the city had removed Catholic Social Services (CSS) from its foster care program for its religious conviction against placing children with same-sex couples. Because many other agencies were willing to place children with same-sex couples, the case hinged around the city’s refusal to recognize CSS’s religious convictions; the court held that Philadelphia’s action violated the free exercise clause. Biden’s executive order would force all faith-based foster care and adoption organizations to implement the LGBT agenda.
Biden characterizes LGBT aggression against religious freedom as an issue of discrimination against people who identify as LGBT, even though they already have access to foster care and adoption services through other means. Therefore, this claim is: FALSE.
Claim 10: “It’s almost exactly seven years since the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality in America.”
President Biden was clearly referring to the case known as Obergefell v. Hodges, which the Supreme Court decided on June 26, 2015, “almost exactly seven years” ago. In their ruling on Obergefell, the Supreme Court redefined marriage as a union of any “two people,” including same-sex couples. Far from affirming anything, the case struck down all state laws defining marriage “as a union between one man and woman.” Before and after Obergefell, anyone of legal age could enter into a marriage union with a person of the opposite sex. Activists who challenged state laws presented no evidence that anyone was prohibited from doing so based upon their sexual identity.
Biden’s timeline is: TRUE. Biden’s characterization of the Obergefell decision is: FALSE.
Claim 11: “Congress has to pass an act as well, and that’s the Equality Act, which will enshrine the long-overdue civil rights that protects [sic] all Americans.”
The Equality Act “would massively overhaul our federal civil rights framework in order to mandate special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), expand abortion access, and gut religious liberty,” according to Mary Beth Waddell, Director of Federal Affairs for Family and Religious Liberty at Family Research Council. She has extensively explored how the bill, would harm pregnant mothers and their children, family-owned businesses that operate according to Christian principles, women entrepreneurs, women athletes, women and girls who use publicly accessible bathrooms and locker rooms, victims in battered women’s shelters, children in the foster care system, parents, teachers and students, the medical community, people who identify as LGBT, religious schools, churches, and people of all faiths.
All Americans, including those who identify as LGBT, already enjoy legally protected, civil rights in many categories and contexts. To establish special privileges for a few, the Equality Act would undermine many of those civil rights protections. Therefore, Biden’s characterization of the poorly-named Equality Act is: FALSE.
Claim 12: “My message to all the young people: … receive who you are, made in the image of God and deserving dignity, respect, and support.”
President Biden meant to combine two incompatible things, the LGBT identity argument and the Christian argument for human dignity. He meant to assert that everyone is free to define their own identity, and that they deserve to have their chosen identity dignified, respected, and supported by others.
Moses writes in Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” According to this Scripture, which “cannot be broken” (John 10:35), all people are made in the image of God, but they are also made male and female, as God has designed them. People deserve respect and support, and they possess inherent dignity, because they are made in the image of God. But because God made them, he has determined whether they are male or female, and their internal feelings cannot modify that reality.
President Biden’s statement is: TRUE, but not in the way he meant it.
Claim 13: “We’re in a battle for the very soul of this nation. And that’s not hyperbole. We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation.”
In a strictly literal sense, individual human beings possess souls, while nations do not. But we are not in a literal battle, either. As a rhetorical device, however, President Biden meant that our political conflicts — our culture wars — are really about spiritual forces fighting for control of hearts and minds. In that sense, his claim is similar to Elijah’s challenge in 1 Kings 18:21, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” Of course, we learn in that chapter to obey the God who can answer prayer with fire from heaven (verse 38) and to reject the false god which leads its followers to cut up their bodies (verse 28), but which does not save them.
In the rhetorical sense, President Biden’s statement is: TRUE, but he isn’t on the side he thinks he is.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.