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April 4 , 2014

Biden calls failure to pass ENDA ‘outrageous’

Los Angeles--Vice President Joe Biden upheld his tradition as a verbal loose cannon at the Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles dinner on March 22, going far beyond President Barack Obama’s own considerable pro-gay civil rights stances.

He was introduced by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who said, “I, like you, want my children and grandchildren to grow up in an America where no matter who you are whom you love, you are treated with dignity and respect, an America where your rights can’t disappear from one state to the next, so that gay parents from California have the same rights when they take their kids to visit grandparents in Arizona. That’s the kind of country we want to live in.

“And for God’s sake, an America where the vice president of the United States can speak up for basic human rights and equality and it’s not breaking news.”

“I know it shocks you to hear that I sometimes speak my mind,” the vice president quipped after taking the podium. “As a matter of fact, someone said not long ago no one ever doubts what Biden says, the problem is sometimes he says all that he thinks.”

He referred to his infamous appearance on Meet the Press, when he expressed his support for same-sex marriage. That statement was credited with pushing Obama towards full support for same-sex marriage.

He pointed to the progress the administration made, like the passage of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the repeal of the military’s ban on open service by gay and lesbian personnel, the expansion of the Violence Against Women Act and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, in addition to the Supreme Court decisions striking section three of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

“But, folks, it’s a lot of progress in a relatively short time after this fight has begun, but guess what, there’s so much more to be done,” Biden said. “My grandkids, my children, and their kids are going to be shocked--it shocks the conscience that at this very moment in American history, in some states, an employer can fire you just because of who you are or who you love. It’s close to barbaric.”

“The country has moved on. The American people have moved on. It’s time for their Congress to move on and pass ENDA, pass ENDA now--not tomorrow, now,” Biden said, referring to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a federal LGBT equality bill. “If you think about this, it’s outrageous we’re even debating this sucker. I really mean it. It’s almost beyond belief that today in 2014, I could say to you, because you’re an employee in so many states, you’re fired because of who you love? I mean think about that. It is bizarre.”

Biden pointed to foreign policy, noting that homosexuality was illegal in nearly 80 countries. He pointed to Nigeria, where “even supporting LGBT organizations can land you in prison for a decade. In June, the Russian government banned the dissemination of so-called propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to young people. And by the way, as the great Soviet dissident, Andrei Sakharov said, ‘A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.’ And we’re seeing that today. We’re seeing that today in Ukraine.”

“Find me a country in the world that singles out a set of citizens, and I’ll guarantee you that country is where justice does not live,” he noted.

Two days after Biden’s speech, the White House confirmed a series of cuts to aid programs in Uganda, including moving $6.4 million of its $8.7 million funding to the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda to other organizations. Two military programs will be moved to other African nations as well.    |

 

 

 

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