Jill Biden’s swing through Southern California: Fundraisers, protesters and a stop at SoulCycle

(Richard Shotwell / Richard Shotwell/invision/ap)

Jill Biden’s swing through Southern California: Fundraisers, protesters and a stop at SoulCycle

Election 2024

Believe E. Pinho

March 25, 2024

First Lady Jill Biden, who defended President Biden’s support for the LGBTQ community and women’s health, toured Southern California this weekend amid dueling protests over the president’s handling of the Middle East conflict .

Almost as soon as she landed in Los Angeles, Biden was confronted by protesters standing outside the Hancock Park home

where she held one for her

Friday night fundraiser, featuring posters of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas and chanting: “Bring them home.”

The next day, protesters

to support

Palestinians stood outside the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, where Biden was scheduled to speak, holding up signs calling for a ceasefire.

condemning explosions

the Human Rights Campaign to accept funding from companies they are considering

for genocide


It didn’t take long before protests broke out behind the hotel doors. Just after Biden began speaking to a crowd of LGBTQ leaders and allies, a loud voice shouted: Dr. Biden, I am a queer Jew calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Soon, others unfurled banners and began chanting, “Stop firing now.”

Their calls were soon drowned out by a dueling chant: four more years.

The first lady stood at the lectern, her lips pursed in a small, tight smile, as security guards escorted the protesters and, in at least one case, dragged them out. When the room cleared from singing, Biden started again.

Good evening everyone, she said to laughter and applause. I have to say: you look absolutely fantastic!

It’s not a good feeling to be part of something being protested, Sylvie Shiell-Loomis, 23, said of the demonstrators outside the hotel. I think they have the right intentions. I think it’s a bit misleading. We are all gathered here for the same reason they are. They want human rights.

Jacob Tobia said they usually belong to the group

throne of

demonstrators disrupt the event. But they chose to attend the Human Rights Campaign dinner with a Palestinian flag draped over their shoulders. When they saw the list of speakers, Tobia thought: I should at least wear something.

I think it is essential that as a queer and trans movement we can maintain the political tension internally within our own movement, Tobia said. And that seems like you’re very clear about your position on issues like genocide.

Biden continued her speech without acknowledging the disruption, repeating her oft-used anecdote about her first date with


Biden was then a senator from Delaware who showed up at her door in a suit and loafers.

And I thought, Thank God it’s only one date, she said, to the laughter of those present. Well, one date ended up turning into a marriage proposal.

In a 15-minute speech, she praised the administration’s efforts to protect LGBTQ rights and, without mentioning former President Trump by name, warned that MAGA extremists are trying to erase these hard-won gains.

History teaches us that democracies do not disappear overnight. They disappear slowly, subtly and silently. A book ban, a court decision, a “don’t say gay” law, she said. One group of people loses their rights, and then another, and then another. Until one morning you wake up and no longer live in a democracy.

The first lady kicked off her weekend Friday evening in Hancock Park with a political fundraiser hosted by Dr. Patricia Gordon, radiation oncologist and founder of a Beverly Hills nonprofit for cervical cancer prevention. She


flew to Rancho Mirage on Saturday for another short fundraiser, where she checked off the administration’s efforts to curb climate change, reduce inflation and address conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Tickets for Saturday’s invitation-only event requested a donation of $1,000 to $100,000. The Biden campaign has raised $155 million in cash, according to the latest campaign reports, far more than Trump’s campaign, which had $36.6 million in cash at the end of January.

On Sunday morning, Biden and her Secret Service entourage arrived

caused an uproar in one

SoulCycle, where the first lady cycled away

in a back row at the back

behind rows of Brentwood studio regulars.


wrapped up her visit to SoCal on Monday with actor Halle Berry on stage at the Getty Center before an audience of hundreds of Hollywood creators. The two chatted about women’s health, giving Biden a chance to tout the administration’s $12 billion investment in research.

They told all of us, go on hormone therapy because it will help you and it will prevent breast cancer, she said. And then, like two years later, they said: no, everyone has to stop hormone therapy, because now it would cause breast cancer. So we were so confused.

Biden said she went to her gynecologist for advice, but the doctor instead asked her what she wanted to do.

And I said, what do you mean, what would I like to do? You are the doctor! Biden said, as the audience laughed. And so that was my aha moment, because she had no answers. And that’s the problem, we have no answers.

After her whirlwind SoCal tour, organizers said Monday, Biden returned to Washington to give her regular English lessons. Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.


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