Barack Obama might be a second term president who does not have to worry about reelection, but his Vice-President, who some think may seek the Democratic Party’s nomination, is another story. Whether he is running or not, Joe Biden made his views on LGBT rights unequivocal Saturday night when he delivered the keynote speech at an event held in LA opposed to sexual discrimination in the work place.
The gala was hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for gay couples. The Vice President implicated Congress saying that it is about time that there was a laws passed that outlaws any discrimination based on sexual orientation hindering gays. He made his views on the subject quite plain, even calling the idea that our country is still debating this issue an outrage. He also said that it is “close to barbaric” that there are states in the country where an employee can be fired directly due to their gender identity or sexual preference.
Biden also said that this country is ready to move past some of these antiquated laws and that so are the people. “Imagine 20 years from now as America looks back and says ‘How in the hell can that have ever been allowed.’”
The bill that the Vice President was referring to in his speech is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, otherwise known as the ENDA, which seeks to disallow employers who have 15 or more workers under their business from using an employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation as the reason for a wide variety of company decisions. These decisions can include, hiring, firing, promotion or compensation allotments. Under this bill the military and most religious institutions would be under exemption.
Biden spoke of Russia, as well, criticizing the ban on “propaganda” that references homosexuality in that country. He also criticized Russia’s military occupation of Crimea in Ukrainian territory. Biden used a quote from famed Soviet-Union dissident Anrei Sakharov, who once said, “A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbor.” Biden said that this quote is exactly what we are seeing today in Russia. Interestingly enough, he did not reference the United States’ own “respect” for the rights of their gay citizens at this part in his speech.
There were moments of the speech which also saw the Vice President display his trademark vitriol. At one point he demanded that he has “had it up to here with cultural norms,” after proclaiming that just because something is the norm in a culture does not make right. He also added that hate should never be defended. Biden’s remarks came only four days after a group of more than 200 Congressman asked President Obama to protect LGBT workers in their workplaces. It awaits to be seen if Obama can make any changes in legislation for LGBT activists, but his Vice President Joe Biden made his stance very clear Saturday night by delivering the keynote speech at a gala in LA supporting non-discrimination based on sexual preference.
By Nick Manai
Christian Science Monitor