Former US Vice President Joe Biden has given a passionate speech at a gala in New York, urging LGBT+ Americans to hold President Donald Trump to account.
Biden was honoured at the event hosted by the Democratic National Committee—receiving the inaugural ‘LGBT Hero Award’.
“Over the years, many of you have thanked me for stating the obvious. Some of you credit me with taking a political risk,” Biden said during his speech.
“From the bottom of my heart, there was no risk. I took no chance. I was just answering what I’ve known all my life, that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.”
Vice President Biden alluded to the Trump administration’s regressive approach to LGBT+ rights which has so far seen a rollback of protections for transgender students, LGBT workers employed by federal contractors and the cancellation of White House Pride celebrations.
“In spite of this terrible period we’re going through, I’m confident we’ll prevail. Thanks to [LGBT activists], the country is way ahead of its political leadership,” said Biden.
“Notwithstanding who is in the White House, we can’t stop now. We can’t say, because of the team that’s there now there’s not much we can do. That’s not true.”
Biden said the LGBT+ community needed to hold Trump accountable to his election campaign promise to be an ally.
“The first thing we should do is hold President Trump accountable for his pledge to be your friend," he said.
“Demonstrate that public opinion and history are on our side.
“Just because you don’t have Barack and me in the White House doesn’t mean it’s time to give up, keep quiet, stay on the sidelines.”
He went on to point out the severe lack of protections available to the LGBT+ community in the United States.
“We still don’t have a federal law that explicitly protects LGBT people from being fired or evicted or denied service in a restaurant. It’s barbaric to think that in America today, you can be married on Sunday and fired on Monday.
“In 28 states people can fire you for being gay, 30 states if you’re transgender.
“Transgender Americans are under attack in state legislatures from North Carolina to Texas. Some of these bills are just trying to attend school in peace and safety.
“Too many young people are rejected by their families, subjected to the vile practice of conversion therapy, or even kicked out of their homes.”
Biden has been a longtime advocate for LGBT+ rights and has officiated for two same-sex marriages in 2016 and 2017.