Jen Psaki Breaks Down in Tears Condemning ‘Harsh and Cruel’ Anti-LGBTQ Bills in Florida and Elsewhere


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki broke down during a podcast interview while condemning a series of anti-LGTBQ bills moving through statehouses as “harsh and cruel.”

In an interview on the News Not Noise podcast released Tuesday, host Jessica Yellin asked Psaki about the legislation across the country.

“How do you make sense of what’s happening?” Yellin asked. “Is this sort of a predictable backlash to change? Or is this an organized political attempt to create a wedge issue ahead of the midterms in the 2024 campaign? Sort of like the way gay marriage was weaponized in 2004?”

“Ding, ding ding,” Psaki said — noting that she had to choose her words carefully on the topic because of the “Hatch Act police.” She went on to condemn the bills by saying, “the political games and harsh and cruel attempts at laws, or laws that we’re seeing in some states like Florida, that is not a reflection of the country moving to oppose LGBTQ+ communities. That is not what we see in data, that is not factual, and that is not where things stand. This is a political wedge issue, and an attempt to win a culture war.”

From there, the press secretary grew emotional when she invoked the impact of the legislation on children.

“They’re doing that in a way that is harsh and cruel to a community of kids, especially,” Psaki said, through tears. “I’m going to get emotional about this issue because it’s horrible! But it’s kids who are bullied, and all these leaders are taking steps to hurt them, and hurt their lives and hurt their families! And you look at some of these laws in these states and who’s going after parents who are in loving relationships, who have kids. It’s completely outrageous! Sorry, this is an issue that makes me completely crazy.”

According to a Washington Post count, nearly 200 bills aiming to eliminate protections for transgender and gay children have been filed across the country this year by Republican lawmakers. Roughly 75 of the bills propose limitations on class discussions or library books — including, most notably, Florida’s legislation, which has been panned by critics as the “Don’t say gay” bill.

“What we’re talking about here in Florida, for example … is that families, if you have a kid in a classroom, and I have a kindergartner, right?” Psaki said. “I can imagine her saying, ‘My friend has two moms. My friend has two dads.’ And the teacher in her classroom, I would hope would say, ‘That’s wonderful. They’re loving parents, and you have a mom and a dad.’ This is penalizing teachers and educators. I mean, it is. There are so many layers of this that are outrageous, and I hope people continue to educate themselves on this because it is a bad side of politics.”

Listen to “Beyond the podium” on Spreaker.

Listen above, via the News Not Noise podcast.

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo