Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a private LGBT gala hosted by the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday in New York City.
During his speech, he warned that transgender Americans are “under attack” in red states, and urged the nation’s queer community to push back against President Donald Trump’s administration.
“Hold President Trump accountable for his pledge to be your friend,” Biden declared. “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.”
Trump vowed to protect the LGBT community during his campaign, but critics say he hasn’t kept his promise.
In February, the Trump Departments of Justice and Education issued a guidance that contradicted an Obama-era one instructing federally funded public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom matching their gender identity. The 2016 Obama guidance cited Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act as requiring schools to provide equal access to public school facilities regardless of gender. However, the Trump administration’s new guidance “in order to further and more completely consider” whether Title IX protects gender identity and expression.
The Trump administration said in January that the president is “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”
“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election,” a White House statement said at the time.
While Biden didn’t lash out at Trump directly, he condemned the Republican Party and homophobic regimes around the world that promote policies such as “corrective rape” and “conversion therapy” on gay people.
“Transgender Americans are under attack from state legislatures from North Carolina to Texas,” Biden added, citing legislation “targeting young people, kids who are just trying to attend school.”
Biden was introduced Wednesday by DNC finance chair Henry Munoz, having officiated Munoz’s same-sex wedding last month.
Munoz described the environment created by the Trump administration as “scary.”
“This moment has been injected with hate and separation and is the farthest away from equality we have ever stood in my lifetime,” Munoz said.
Biden has long been a supporter of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. In May 2012 (three years before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide), he famously told David Gregory, the host of Meet the Press, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights.”