update deskU.S. News

US first lady criticized for comparing Florida law, Nazi Germany

"A book ban. A court decision. A 'Don't say gay' law," Jill Biden said. "Before World War II, I'm told, Berlin was the center of LGBTQ culture in Europe."

U.S. first lady Jill Biden speaks at an event in Crystal City, Va., on May 16, 2023. Credit: Ken Cedeno/U.S. Department of Labor.
U.S. first lady Jill Biden speaks at an event in Crystal City, Va., on May 16, 2023. Credit: Ken Cedeno/U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S. first lady Jill Biden is drawing criticism for appearing to compare Florida legislation, which she called the “‘Don’t say gay’ law,” with Nazi Germany.

“History teaches us that democracies don’t disappear overnight. They disappear slowly. Subtly. Silently. A book ban. A court decision. A ‘Don’t say gay’ law,” Biden said at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Los Angeles on Sunday, per official prepared remarks.

“Before World War II, I’m told, Berlin was the center of LGBTQ culture in Europe,” the first lady added. “One group of people loses their rights. And then another, and another. Until one morning you wake up—and you no longer live in a democracy.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1557, “Parental Rights in Education,” into law on March 28, 2022. The law, in part, states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three, or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Critics came to refer to the bill, which doesn’t use the word “gay,” as the “Don’t say gay” bill.

“Jill Biden compares banning sexually explicit content in elementary schools to Nazi Germany during World War II,” wrote the syndicated radio host Sean Hannity of Fox News.

The Daily Mail reported that tickets for the fundraiser at which Biden spoke cost $100,000.

On March 11, DeSantis’s office announced what it called a “major win” against activists aiming “to stop Florida’s efforts to keep radical gender and sexual ideology out of the classrooms of public-school children in kindergarten through third grade (5- to 9-year-olds).”

“We fought hard to ensure this law couldn’t be maligned in court, as it was in the public arena by the media and large corporate actors,” stated Ryan Newman, general counsel to DeSantis. “We are victorious, and Florida’s classrooms will remain a safe place under the Parental Rights in Education Act.”

JNS sought comment from the governor’s office about the first lady’s comments.

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