Former Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the annual Human Rights Campaign Gala Sunday night highlighted the long standing familial history of acceptance and advocation for the LGBTQ+ community.
Biden recounted when his father first taught him the meaning of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I learned early on from my father it’s a simple proposition,” Biden said, recalling a time when his father was driving him somewhere at age 17. “As I got out of the car, two men dressed in suites … leaned over and kissed one another, embraced. And I just turned and looked at my dad and this is what he said to me – He said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other. It’s simple.’”
Biden went on to pay tribute to his deceased son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, and all the effort and support he contributed to the LGBTQ+ community as well.
“He died of cancer,” Biden said. “A terrible disease. We have a foundation that is trying to end cancer as we know it. This is a disease on America. The disease of homophobia. We can end it. We can save my grandkids, my great-grandkids and thousands and thousands of Americans. And the rest of the world will repair to the American standards.”
To further support the LGBTQ+ community, Biden launched the “As You Are” campaign this summer. This philanthropic effort aims to prevent LGBTQ+ youth from being rejected by family and help those that are.
Biden also addressed Seth Owen, the student whose teachers raised thousands of dollars via crowdfunding to allow him to attend college after his parents threw him out for being gay.
“Be strong. I am proud of you,”Biden said to Owen who was sitting in the audience. “I have your back. We have your back. The country has your back. Be proud.”
The 22nd annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Dinner was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder, trailblazing Virginia Delegate Danica Roem and Democratic candidate for Nevada Secretary of State Nelson Araujo also addressed the crowd of LGBTQ advocates and allies. Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway was honored with the HRC National Equality Award, which was presented to Hathaway by rapper, actress, and Ocean’s Eight co-star Awkwafina. Transgender advocate and artist Shea Diamond performed.