Joe Biden Has Blunt Speech for HRC Gala

The vice president was outraged by ENDA's stall in Congress, Uganda's jail-the-gays law, Russia's propaganda law, and even railed against corrective rape of lesbians in Africa.

BY Lucas Grindley

March 23 2014 1:41 AM ET

Vice President Biden commended the LGBT rights movement on Saturday for having "demanded the basic American dream" in a speech he said was largely meant as a thank you.

"Because of what all of you've done," he said during the Human Rights Campaign's Los Angeles gala, "my granddaughter is going to grow up in a better country, and a more just country, and a more fair country."

Biden said that among the many wins for marriage equality, the silent majority has been liberated to speak up. "You liberated tens of millions of straight guys and straight women," he told the room. Adding later, "they know they are not the exception, they know they are the majority."

Biden, who is known for having come out for marriage equality even before the president, was his characteristically blunt self.

"It's close to barbaric," Biden said of it still being legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian. "Pass ENDA now," he demanded of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, calling it "outrageous we're even debating this."

Then Biden turned his focus overseas, calling on the United States to lead in the world on human rights.

"I've traveled to most countries in the world, and I can tell you they are looking to us as an example as a champion of LGBT rights everywhere," Biden said, noting that almost more than half the countries in the United Nations still make it a crime to be gay, and some still make it punishable by death.

Biden specifically called out Uganda for its jail-the-gays law for so-called aggravated homosexuality, "Whatever the hell that is," Biden said in an aside. "There are some sick people in the world."

He said Russia is disrespecting the rights of its citizens and so it's no surprise it is disrespecting the rights of its neighbors in Ukraine, and Biden was outraged by those places in Africa where corrective rape for lesbians is still practiced.

"Corrective rape? What in God's name are we talking about?" Biden bellowed. "How can a country that speaks in those terms be remotely considered to be a civil society?"

Biden said that while the United States must lead, winning shouldn't be considered a signal of American influence but of the value of human rights.

"The single most basic of all human rights is the right to decide who you love, it is the single basic building block," he said. Biden knocked those who would disagree. "Hate can never never be defended because it's a so-called 'cultural norm.' I've had it up to here with cultural norms."

Watch the video below, when Biden takes the stage at about the 35-minute mark:


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