Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to make LGBTQ equality a priority.
During the half-hour speech, Biden said that signing the Equality Act would be his top legislative priority. “It will be the first thing I ask to be done,” Biden said.
In the wide-ranging address, the 2020 presidential candidate called out the Trump administration as a “disaster for human rights,” pointing out many of its ongoing attacks on the rights and protections of LGBTQ Americans.
“It’s outrageous,” he said. “It must end. And the fastest way to end it is end the Trump administration.”
Biden also denounced current vice current Vice President Mike Pence for using religious freedom as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ folks.
“Just like with racial justice and women’s rights, we are seeing pushback against all the progress we’ve made toward equality,” said Biden as he discussed protections for transgender Americans. “It’s wrong and it is immoral what they’re doing.”
In a lighthearted moment, Biden recalled the media storm he created by announcing his support for marriage equality before President Obama.
“I had told [President Obama] I wasn’t going to push things because we weren’t there yet, but if I was asked I wasn’t going to remain quiet,” said Biden of his early-out-of-the-gate endorsement for marriage equality on Meet the Press in 2012.
Biden laughed as he recalled many political pundits thinking, “I had just committed this gigantic blunder.”
Biden has been a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community. In addition to endorsing marriage equality sooner than other politicians, the Biden Foundation teamed up with YMCA of the USA to launch a three-year effort to foster LGBTQ inclusion and equity at YMCA locations nationwide.
And in August 2018, the Biden Foundation also launched “As You Are,” a family and community acceptance campaign to raise awareness of the importance of family acceptance in the lives of LGBTQ young people.
In advance of his HRC speech, Biden tweeted out his support for Pride Month:
Pride is about standing up to the voices of injustice and discrimination and declaring that everyone has the right to live proud, open, and free. It's about love. We join the LGBTQ community in celebration and remember the fight is not over. We march on. Happy #PrideMonth
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 1, 2019