Joe Biden Calls LGBT Workplace Discrimination “Barbaric”

“It’s clear we have a long road to travel to change hearts and minds and laws all over the world,” he said during the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles.

Valerie Macon / Getty

LOS ANGELES — Vice President Joe Biden called employers’ ability in some states to fire employees because of their sexuality “barbaric” and “bizarre” during a keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign Gala dinner Saturday.

“Hate can never be defended because it’s a so-called cultural norm,” he said. “I’ve had it up to here with cultural norms.”

He called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would outlaw discrimination by most private employers against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

His comments come four days after more than 200 members of Congress called on the Obama administration to take action to protect LGBT employees in the workplace.

Biden also spoke about improvements that must be made in the treatment of the LGBT community overseas and compared Russia’s treatment of the LGBT community to its actions in Ukraine

“The great anti-Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said, ‘A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbor,’” he said. “And we’re seeing that today in Ukraine.”

Biden referenced his 2012 Meet the Press interview when he came out in favor of marriage for same-sex couples ahead of President Obama, and said he’s “constantly thanked and given a lot more credit than I’m deserved.”

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