Appearing Saturday at the Human Rights
Campaign's (HRC) 22nd annual national dinner, former Vice
President Joe Biden took several swipes at President Donald Trump's
record on LGBT rights and recognized the valedictorian who was kicked
out of his house because of his sexual orientation.
Alluding to Trump, Biden told the crowd
that “forces of intolerance remain determined to undermine and roll
back the progress you have made.”
“Instead of using the full might of
the executive branch to secure justice, dignity and safety for all,
the president uses the White House as a literal bully pulpit,
callously exerting his power over those who have little or none,”
Biden also said that Trump's response
to the rally in Charlottesville pushed him to break his silence on
the new administration.
“Barack [Obama] and I agreed to
remain silent for a while to give this administration a chance to get
up and running the first year. God forgive me,” he said, making
the sign of the cross to applause.
“But I could not remain silent after
Charlottesville,” he said, referring to Trump saying that “both
sides” were responsible for the death of a young woman protesting a
white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year.
“This is about basic decency,”
Biden said. “This is deadly earnest. We are in a fight for
Biden also recognized Seth Owen, the
18-year-old Jacksonville, Florida gay valedictorian who was rejected
by his parents. A GoFundMe page set up by a former teacher raised
more than six times the money he needed to attend his first year at
Georgetown University. Later, the school decided to give Owen a
“Be strong, man,” Biden told Owen,
who was in the audience. “We're proud of you. I have your back.
We have your back. The country has your back. Be proud.”
Biden also talked about his son, Beau
Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. As the attorney general of
Delaware, Beau Biden was a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage.
“The reason my son felt so strongly
about this, and Jill and I do. He died of cancer, a terrible
disease,” Biden said. “This is a disease and a plight on
America. This disease of homophobia. And we can end it.”
At Saturday's event, HRC honored
actress Anne Hathaway for her activism.
Hathaway loves LGBT community for its “freedom.”)