April 14, 2024

Trump camp decries ‘assault on the Christian faith’, while White House blasts ‘cruel, hateful, and dishonest rhetoric’.

The camps of United States President Joe Biden and his Republican challenger Donald Trump have clashed over a decision to have a day celebrating transgender people fall on Easter.

Biden on Friday proclaimed March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility to “honour the extraordinary courage and contributions of transgender Americans”.

Biden first declared March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility in 2021, but the date this year coincides with Easter Sunday, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.

In a fiery statement, the Trump campaign branded Biden’s declaration “appalling” and part of a “years-long assault on the Christian faith”.

“We call on Joe Biden’s failing campaign and White House to issue an apology to the millions of Catholics and Christians across America who believe tomorrow is for one celebration only – the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson also took aim at Biden, a practising Catholic, labelling the proclamation “outrageous and abhorrent” as well as a betrayal of the “central tenet” of Easter.

“The American people are taking note,” Johnson said in a statement in X.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates hit back that Republicans were seeking to “divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful, and dishonest rhetoric”.

“As a Christian who celebrates Easter with family, President Biden stands for bringing people together and upholding the dignity and freedoms of every American,” Bates said in a statement to multiple news outlets.

“President Biden will never abuse his faith for political purposes or for profit,” Bates added, in an apparent reference to Trump urging his supporters to buy ”God Bless the USA” Bibles priced at $59.99.

Elizabeth Alexander, First Lady Jill Biden’s communications director, also said claims that the Biden administration had banned religious symbols at a youth art contest were misleading as past administrations, including Trump’s, used the same standardised nondiscrimination language.

Transgender issues have become a flashpoint in the bitter culture war dividing Democrats and Republicans ahead of November’s presidential race.

Biden has cast himself as a champion of LGBTQ rights as part of a drive for greater fairness and equality.

Trump, meanwhile, has courted conservative Christians who feel alienated by secular liberal culture.

Recognition of trans people in the US varies considerably by state.

Many Democratic-led states allow trans people to declare their preferred gender without the need for surgery or other medical intervention.

Republican-ruled states have passed laws banning gender-affirming treatment for minors and restricting participation in women’s sports to biological females.

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