By Julissa Catalan
Vice President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to end workplace discrimination for the LGBT community.
Biden spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 LGBT advocates at the Human Rights Campaign’s Los Angeles Gala on Saturday in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)a bill that prevents employers of 15 or more workers from making employment decisions, such as firings, based on someone’s gender preference.
“It’s outrageous we’re even debating this sucker,” he said. “The single most basic of all human rights is the right to decide who you love. It is the single basic building block.”
He added that it’s “close to barbaric” that in some states, employees can be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Imagine 20 years from now as America looks back and says, ‘How in the hell can that ever have been allowed’ The country’s moved on, the American people have moved on.
“I’ve traveled to most countries in the world, and I can tell you they’re looking to us as an example as a champion of LGBT rights everywhere,” Biden continued. “In almost half the countries in the U.N., it’s a crime to be gay. In seven countries, it’s punishable by death.”
While he commended countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico on making strides in gay rights, he spoke out against countries such as Jamaica, Nigeria and Uganda for their inhumane forms of punishment for people who are a part ofor who even just supportthe LGBT community.
He also called out Russia for its ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”
“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.’ And we’re seeing that today in Ukraine,” Biden said.
Two years ago, shortly after President Obama announced his support for LGBT marriage equality, Biden offered his first public endorsement on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I am Vice President of the United States of America, the President sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact of men marrying men, women marrying women, heterosexual men and women marrying one another, are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties, and quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”
Watch Vice President Biden’s speech at the Human Rights Campaign gala in its entirety: