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June 15, 2024 3:21 am

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Jill Biden tells audience at Pittsburgh Pride event ‘your president loves you’

First Lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Pittsburgh Pride on Saturday June 1, 2024, and took photos with attendees before taking the stage. (Credit: Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
June 1, 2024

PITTSBURGH —  First lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Pittsburgh on Saturday to speak at a Pride celebration on the city’s North Side, warning the audience of the stakes of the 2024 election for LGBTQ rights. 

“Every June we gather in communities across this country to celebrate how far we’ve come, to reflect on every act of bravery that are still required to live an authentic life and to honor the courage it takes to stand up for what’s right,” Biden told the crowd, who waved Biden-Harris placards with rainbows emblazoned on them. 

“But it shouldn’t take courage just to be yourself,” she continued. “It shouldn’t take courage to go to school and walk down the hall as the person you know you are. It shouldn’t take courage to hold someone’s hand on the bus, to kiss them goodbye on the sidewalk, to love who you love. It shouldn’t, but in too many places, it still does.”

For the LGBTQ community in 2024, Biden said, rights are being stripped away and freedoms are eroding. “More and more state laws are being passed targeting this community,” Biden said. “We had to fend off 50 anti-gay amendments that Republicans tried to force into the government funding bill.” 

Last fall, Republicans in Congress introduced spending bills across the federal government that would have limited healthcare and weakened protections for same-sex couples; the bills ranged from restricting federal funding for gender-affirming care, to banning the use of federal funds to fly Pride flags over government buildings.

“And they served only one purpose,” Biden said Saturday. “To spread hate and fear.” 

Biden said presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, who was found guilty of 34 felony counts in a New York courtroom on Thursday, was “dangerous” to the LGBT community. “We cannot let him win. We have to meet this moment as if our fundamental rights are at stake, because they are,” she said. “We will secure a future so that people in all places can feel the freedom and pride that we feel here today. I hope you know that I love you and your president loves you.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Saturday.

Biden was introduced by Nathaniel Yap, a Pittsburgher who serves on Gov. Josh Shapiro’s commission for LGBTQ affairs. Yap brought his husband and their two children to the stage, and said he would be voting for President Biden in November, to protect LGBTQ families. 

“President Biden is the guy I trust to make the Supreme Court nominations that we need to protect our families and others like it across our country,” Yap said. 

There were some scattered chants of “free Palestine” from audience members as Jill Biden spoke on Saturday, but they were mostly drowned out by louder chants of “four more years” and general applause for Biden during and after her brief remarks. 

Before she took the stage, she took photos with dozens of visitors to Pride for about 15 minutes, and stopped at several vendor booths at the festival to chat with the proprietors.

Biden, a community college educator,  began the short Saturday visit to Western Pennsylvania at Erie County Community College’s commencement, where she delivered the keynote address.

She told the audience of graduates that “community college should be free.” President Biden has proposed expanding free community college in his fiscal 2025 budget. 

Jill Biden praised the Erie students for their achievements at the relatively young college; Erie County Community College opened in 2021, and graduated its first class of students in 2023.

“We are so proud of you,” she said. “When people told you that this city is too small or it will be too hard to start a new school, you fought for one anyway, because Erie doesn’t do ‘can’t.’”

Pennsylvania is a key battleground state in the 2024 election. Both President Joe Biden and Trump have visited the state numerous times this year so far. Most recently, Biden made a joint appearance with Vice President Kamala Harris in Philadelphia on Wednesday to launch the campaign’s Black voters initiative.

Trump’s most recent Pennsylvania campaign stop was a rally in the Lehigh Valley in April.

The Trump campaign will open its first office in Philadelphia next week, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but no word yet on whether the candidate will attend in person. The Biden campaign has 24 offices across the Keystone State, including in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which are solidly Democratic, but also in areas that typically favor Republican candidates, such as York and Lancaster.

Recent polling shows Trump with a slight edge over Biden.

Multiple national ratings outlets, including the Cook Political Report, still rate the 2024 presidential race as a “toss-up” in Pennsylvania, which has 19 electoral votes on the line.

Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania by just over 80,000 votes in 2020.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.