Speaking at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) LGBT gala in New York Wednesday, the 74-year-old urged queer rights advocates to push back against Trump, who ran on an explicitly anti-LGBTQ platform.
“The first thing you should do, even though he won’t respond, is hold President Trump accountable for his pledge to be your friend,” Biden said in his speech, which can be viewed in the video above. Pointing to a 2016 tweet in which Trump vowed to “fight” on the community’s behalf, Biden added, “Demonstrate that public opinion and history are on our side! Just because you don’t have Barack [Obama] and me in the White House doesn’t mean it’s time to give up, keep quiet, stay in the sidelines.”
Though Trump was touted by The New York Times as having “more accepting” views on LGBTQ issues than many Republicans on the campaign trail, the president’s first months in office have been anything but queer-friendly. The Trump administration stripped policies protecting transgender students’ bathroom rights in February, just weeks before the Census Bureau announced questions relating to sexual orientation or gender identity would be removed from the 2020 census. Though the president has called himself a friend of the LGBTQ community, the White House has stayed silent on Pride Month.
Biden, meanwhile, saluted Pride Month in his Wednesday speech, calling it a time to “honor generations of brave activists.”
“Most change occurs culturally long before it occurs governmentally. The country is way ahead of the political leadership,” he said. “We’ve come this far because you spoke up for who you are, and you didn’t ask, you demanded justice which has long been denied despite some vicious voices of intolerance that tried to drown you out.”
Biden spoke out in the past against the Trump administration for having “shift[ed] the focus” on LGBTQ issues. “As much great work as we’ve done, we face some real challenges ahead,” he said in March. “We thought things were moving in the right direction.”
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