This is not an endorsement by this writer or by World of Wonder. But, before you say too much about him, I wish for readers to remember that Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. has been a longtime friend to queer people.
At a Human Rights Campaign dinner in October 2015, Biden’s special guests were former NBA player Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete to play in the NBA, plus Blossom Brown, a transgender woman from Mississippi. He spoke out forcefully in favor of Equal Rights for everyone in our country.
Speaking at a celebration for the Supreme Court’s ruling on Marriage Equality in 2015, Biden spoke movingly of Gay Rights activists’ struggle, promising to fight for equal-protection laws for LGBTQ Americans, and not-so-subtly tooted his own horn in helping marriage become legal for everyone.
“You left the Supreme Court absolutely no choice, no choice whatsoever, and I mean that. The very fact that we finally recognize that love is not a political matter, it’s a basic human right. The fact that we recognize that is because of you. You’ve changed the world in which my grandchildren will grow up.“
Biden has always had a strong record in support of Gay Rights reaching back to his own teenage years:
“This has been a heroic battle. But it’s been based on this very simple proposition best expressed to me by my dad as a 17-year-old kid. I recall a time when my father and I witnessed two men kissing. I turned and looked at my dad, and I’ll never forget what he said: ‘Joey, they love each other. It’s simple’.“
He had been instrumental in helping appoint Justice Anthony Kennedy who cast that deciding vote in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Marriage Equality ruling.
There was also that famous moment on NBC’s Meet The Press in 2012, when Biden endorsed Same-Sex Marriage, reportedly frustrating Barack Obama‘s team who had also planned on announcing the President’s own support for Marriage Equality, but he beat them to it by three weeks. He will always be remembered as President Obama’s early conscience on LGBTQ Rights.
It’s easy to forget now, but for most of his first term, Obama was elusive on the subject of Marriage Equality. After working on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in late 2010, Obama stepped away from further discussion on LGBTQ Rights, declining to commit to full equality, even after the New York State’s Marriage Equality battle had been won. In early 2012, LGBTQ Americans waited anxiously for Obama to “evolve” on the issue, but he said nothing. As the 2012 election approached, it appeared alarmingly likely that Obama would once again campaign on a Non-Equality platform.
Three days after Biden declared his support for Marriage Equality on national television, Obama did the same. Never before had a POTUS endorsed the right of same-sex couples to wed.
I think Obama would have eventually championed Marriage Equality. He had kept hidden his actual views for fear of political blowback. But, Biden expedited the process at the perfect moment, turning the 2012 election into a referendum on Marriage Equality and Obama’s victory all the more special.
Biden’s own work had focused heavily on the fight to grant equal protection to individuals in the workplace and housing. He has pushed the Obama Administration to expand equal-protection laws for LGBTQ Americans in those states that do not explicitly bar discrimination based on sexuality. Biden:
“There are still 32 states where marriage can be recognized in the morning, and you can still be fired in the afternoon. I want you to know that this next door will be a hell of a lot easier to open.“
In typical “Biden speak”, he has noted that the vocal LGBTQ community has helped many straight people feel more comfortable about supporting Gay Rights.
“Homophobia also intimidated millions of straight people who didn’t have a homophobic bone in their body. They are now free as well.
You don’t owe me or the President any thanks. We owe you. It’s hard for me to imagine the sense of accomplishment Gay Americans must feel.“
As VEEP, Biden continued to urge people to keep working for full equality. He has stated that he believes that most Americans support proposed protections against housing, employment and services contained in much disputed, now dying, Equality Act (see WoW writer Trey Speegle‘s post from Friday). But, Biden also believes that LGBTQ Americans still face discrimination. Biden in 2012:
“Most American people are already with you. Look at the numbers. Oh, there are homophobes still left. Most of them are running for President, I think.“
Poor Joe, it has to pain him to see that the homophobes have grabbed the White House.
“We lost because an awful lot of hard-working Americans who live in areas where we did not pay much attention to. Barack Obama won these people. They did not vote for the Democrats this time.“
This year, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren, Bill Weld (Republican), Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang, all support Marriage Equality and full rights for all Americans, and all ran for POTUS.