Joe Biden on Civil Rights

Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Joe Biden on GLBT Rights

To all transgender Americans: your president has your back

I hope Congress will get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans. To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people, who are so brave, I want you to know your president has your back.
Source: 2021 State of the Union address , Apr 28, 2021

Reverse ban on transgender individuals serving in military

To further repair our moral leadership, I'm issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally. You know, we'll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals, included by combatting criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers.

And finally, to successfully reassert our diplomacy and keep Americans safe, prosperous, and free, we must restore the health and morale of our foreign policy institutions.

The United States will again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example. Within hours of taking office, I signed an executive order overturning the hateful, discriminatory Muslim ban; reversed the ban on transgender individuals serving in our military.

Source: Manchester Ink Link on 2020 New Hampshire Senate race , Feb 4, 2021

LGBT rights are in jeopardy from Supreme Court

Q: What do you say to LGBTQ Americans who are very worried about erosions of their rights?

BIDEN: I think there's great reason to be concerned for the LGBT community, something I fought very hard for, for a long time to make sure there's equality across the board.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

Son Beau got transgendered bill passed in Delaware

There should be zero discrimination. What's happening is too many transgender women of color are being murdered. They're being murdered. My son Beau, who passed away, was the attorney general of the state of Delaware. He was the guy who got the first transgender law passed in the state of Delaware. And because of a young man who became a woman, who worked for him in the attorney general's office.
Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

No job discrimination for transgender status

The Supreme Court ruled that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status, a major victory for advocates of gay rights and for the nascent transgender rights movement.

By a vote of 6-3, the court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person's sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status.

Joe Biden called the ruling "a momentous step forward for our country" in a statement, adding that the court had "confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity, that everyone should be able to live openly, proudly, as their true selves without fear."

The Trump administration had urged the court to rule that Title VII does not cover cases like these, in a reversal from the position the government took during the Obama administration.

Source: NBC News on BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA , Jun 15, 2020

Raised in 1960s to treat homosexuality as basic love

Q: In 2012, you were the vice president. The Obama administration hadn't yet publicly backed marriage equality. You made headlines. You said that you were absolutely comfortable with "men marrying men, women marrying women," adding that you're "entitled to the exact same rights." I'm wondering in that moment made you say that at that time? Because you were ahead of your president.

BIDEN: Barack knew my position. Back in 1963, my dad drove me [to a downtown city] and two well-dressed men kissed one another as I was opening the door. And I hadn't seen that before. And I looked at my dad, and he looked at me and said, "it's simple. They love each other. It's just basic. There is nothing complicated about it." That's how I was raised, for real. And Barack knew that. And he knew that if I was going to be a good boy until the administration moved unless I was asked--no one ever doubts I mean what I say. The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Pass Equality Act, enforce Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTQ

Q: Our son Matthew [Shepard] was murdered in 1998. What will you do to reduce violence and hate crimes against LGBTQ people?

BIDEN: We have to pass the Equality Act. That's important because it would change a whole range of things. This is a civil rights issue, protected by the Civil Rights Act, and we should focus on how to enforce that. My Justice Department will do that. Lastly, I think that it's important we start early and educate the population.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Yes to transgender in military and right to do as others do

Q: I served over ten years in the military, and after that, I was forced to make a difficult decisions and that was to choose between serving my country and my identity as a transgender woman. What will you do to support the estimated 15,000 troops putting their lives on the line?

BIDEN: If I were president, you would not have to choose. The fact of the matter is transgender men and women should be able to do anything anybody else can do. There should be no difference.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Marriage is all about "who do you love", of whatever gender

On May 6, 2012, the Meet the Press interviewer asked Biden if his views on gay marriage had evolved. Biden spoke slowly, quietly, earnestly. "This is about... a simple proposition," he said, hands clasped. "Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that's what people are finding out is what marriages at their root are about. Whether they are marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals."

The interviewer wanted to clarify. "And you're comfortable with same-sex marriage now?"

"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another, are entitled to the same exact rights," Biden said. "All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."

Whether he had intended to or not, Joe Biden had just made history, and we all know what happened next.

Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p.147 , Oct 24, 2017

Obama disbelieved 2012 gay-marriage support was "accidental"

Biden infuriated Obama by publicly declaring his off-message support for gay marriage, just as the 2012 campaign was entering the homestretch. Obama's team didn't buy Biden's explanation that the gay-marriage endorsement was accidental--and, until recently, Obama's team blocked Biden from doing much national media [after that event]. The freeze-out was not subtle: The V.P. was personally excluded from planning meetings he had been invited to attend 4 years earlier, and his people were treated with open contempt in the weeks following the gay marriage controversy.

Biden had no idea at the time that Obama's polling operation had begun inserting questions into focus groups about Clinton's viability as a vice presidential replacement, a revelation that surfaced only late last year in "Double Down." [An Obama aide] told me the dump-Joe polling never even led to a discussion among Obama's senior advisers (in part because Clinton seemed to offer no significant re-election benefit).

Source: Politico Mag profile, "Joe Biden in Winter" , Mar 1, 2014

I supported gay marriage and got criticized for saying so

Q: Your views on the gay marriage debate?

A: Remember, I got criticized for saying I support gay marriage. I just decided I couldn't be quiet about it anymore, and everybody was stunned that that's where the public is. And I'm not stunned; it's where the public's been for a while. Talk to any of your kids, for God's sake.

Q: Did you get blowback from the president or people in general?

A: I got blowback from everybody but the president. I walked in that Monday, he had a big grin on his face, he put his arms around me and said, "Well, Joe, God love you, you say what you think." I knew he agreed with me. It wasn't like he was in a different place.

Source: Douglas Brinkley in Rolling Stone Magazine , May 9, 2013

I'm "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage

Joe Biden became the highest-ranking government official to back same-sex marriage on Sunday, telling Meet the Press he was "absolutely comfortable" with the issue. Obama has appeared reluctant to take up the issue in an election year but has said his views are "evolving" on the subject.

The comments by Biden, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's support of same-sex marriage, opened up speculation that the White House is moving towards a new position of support for gay marriage, beyond its already stated backing for civil unions. But Obama's main political strategist played down the prospect of an imminent shift. In a conference call with reporters on Monday, he insisted that Biden's comments are "entirely consistent with the president's position, which is that couples who are married, whether they are gay or heterosexual couples are entitled to the very same liberties. When people are married, we ought to recognize those marriages and afford them the rights to which they are entitled."

Source: Adam Gabbatt & Ewen MacAskill in The Guardian (UK) , May 7, 2012

No on gay marriage; yes on equal treatment

Q: Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?

BIDEN: Absolutely positively. Absolutely no distinction from a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple. Same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, etc. That’s only fair.

Q: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.

Q: Let’s try to avoid nuance. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

PALIN: My answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

Nobody asks if you’re gay in a foxhole

I’ve been to Afghanistan, I’ve been to Iraq seven times, I’ve been in the Balkans, I’ve been in these foxholes with these kids, literally in bunkers with them. Let me tell you something, nobody asked anybody else whether they’re gay in those foxholes. Our allies -- the British, the French, all our major allies -- gays openly serve. I don’t know the last time an American soldier said to a backup from a Brit, “Hey, by the way, let me check. Are you gay? Are you straight?” This is ridiculous.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Civil unions ok; gay marriage is probably inevitable

Q: In November 2003, you were asked, “Do you believe gay marriage is inevitable?” And you responded, “I’m not sure. I think probably it is.”

A: Well, I think it probably is because social mores change. But I don’t think the government can dictate the definition of marriage to religious institutions. But government does have an obligation to guarantee that every individual is free of discrimination. And there’s a distinction. I think government should not be able to dictate to religions the definition of marriage, but on a civil side, government has the obligation to strip away every vestige of discrimination as to what individuals are able to do in terms of their personal conduct.

So New Hampshire coming out in favor of civil unions is OK by you?

A: Yes. Yes, it is.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

Joe Biden on Minority Rights

Defend freedom of religion and combat Islamophobia

[On H.R.8 / S.529]: "Our country's commitment to defending freedom of religion and belief goes back centuries, and the Administration strongly believes that people of all faiths and backgrounds should be treated with equal dignity and respect around the world," a statement of support issued by the White House read. The bill comes after Republicans in Congress have targeted the three Muslim members of Congress, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, with bigoted language. Democrats urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leadership to discipline Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., for Islamophobic remarks last month comparing Omar to a terrorist, calling her a member of a "jihad squad."

[H.R.5665, the "Combating International Islamophobia Act," establishes within the Department of State the Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia; see details of H.R.8 / S.529]

Source: Spectrum News NY1.com on 2021 Biden Administration , Dec 15, 2021

Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President--it's about time

Madam speaker, madam vice president. No president has ever said those words from this podium. No president has ever said those words, and it's about time.

[OnTheIssues note: President Biden opened his speech to the Joint Session of Congress by acknowledging the two leaders of the two chambers who site behind him at the podium -- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Kamala Harris in her role as President of the Senate. In 2021, for the first time, both leaders were women.]

Source: 2021 State of the Union address , Apr 28, 2021

Appoint Cabinet who look like the country they serve

PROMISE MADE: (2020 campaign website JoeBiden.com): Biden will start on day one of his Administration leading by example, making sure his political appointees, including his Cabinet, and our entire federal workforce look like the country they serve. As President, Biden will nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve.

PROMISE KEPT: (The Conversation e-zine, 2/22/21): President Joe Biden's Cabinet is the most diverse in U.S. history. It has five women, including the first female treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, and Deb Haaland, who will become the first Native American Cabinet member if confirmed as interior secretary. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is the first openly gay man to win Senate confirmation and lead a Cabinet department. Four of Biden's 15 Cabinet nominees identify as Latino or Black. They also span generations, ranging in age from 39 to 74.

Source: TheConversation.com blog on Biden Promises , Mar 8, 2021

Trump is the most racist president in modern history

TRUMP: I am the least racist person in this room. Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump with the exception of Abraham Lincoln.

BIDEN: Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history, he pours fuel on every single racist fire. Started off his campaign coming down the escalator saying he's getting rid of those Mexican rapists, he's ban Muslims because they're Muslims, he has moved around and made everything worse across the board. About the Proud Boys, last time we were on stage here he said, "I tell them to stand down and stand ready." Come on, this guy has a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.

TRUMP: The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting, "Pigs in a blanket; fry them like bacon," talking about police. I thought it was a terrible thing. As far as my relationships with all people, I think I have great relationships with all people. I am the least racist person in this room.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

Every generation moves closer to full racial inclusion

[When young, I moved from all-white Scranton PA to] Delaware, where we have the eight largest Black population, as a percent of population. It was an epiphany for me seeing what was going on, and I got deeply involved. I'm no great shakes. I wasn't John Lewis; I don't mean to imply that. But it's the thing that's motivated me.

Every single solitary generation, the dial has moved closer and closer and more and more to inclusion. Slaves came here 400 years ago; except for indigenous people, everyone else is an immigrant. We're a diverse country. And unless we are able to treat people equally, we're just never going to meet our potential. I think the American people want to see that happen. I think they're ready to see it happen. And I'd tell you one thing, if I'm elected president, you will not hear me race baiting. You'll not hear me dividing. You'll hear me trying to unify, and bring people together.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

This is Trump's America: Proud Boys over Antifa

The Proud Boys pledged allegiance to Trump after he told the group to "stand back and stand by" during the first presidential debate. Trump was asked to disavow white supremacy. But Trump did not denounce any far-right group, pivoting to talk about Antifa, a left-wing organization.

The Proud Boys, a self-described "Western chauvinist" organization, is considered a violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that tracks extremist groups. Proud Boys members marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and have organized against Black Lives Matter protests in recent months.

Biden commented on the Proud Boys reaction, responding to a journalist who tweeted out a screenshot of the group celebrating the mention. "This. This is Donald Trump's America," Biden tweeted.

Source: NBC News Fact-Check on First 2020 Presidential Debate , Sep 29, 2020

Ran for president after Trump's response to Charlottesville

Q: Why should voters trust you rather than your opponent to deal with the race issues facing this country over the next four years?

BIDEN: It's about equity and equality. It's about decency. It's about the Constitution. We have never walked away from trying to require equity for everyone, equality for the whole of America. We've never walked away from it like he has done. It is true, the reason I got in the race is when those people. Close your eyes, remember what those people look like coming out of the fields, carrying torches, their veins bulging, just spewing anti-Semitic bile and accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan. A young woman got killed and they asked the president what he thought. He said, "There were very fine people on both sides." No president's ever said anything like that. This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle, to try to generate racist hatred, racist division.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

There's systemic injustice, will bring people together

Q: Do you believe that there is a separate but unequal system of justice for Blacks in this country?

BIDEN: Yes, there is. There's systemic injustice in this country, in education and work and in law enforcement and the way in which it's enforced. But look, the vast majority of police officers are good, decent, honorable men and women. They risk their lives every day to take care of us, but there are some bad apples. And when they occur, when they find them, they have to be sorted out. They have to be held accountable. What I'm going to do as President of the United States is call together an entire group of people at the White House, everything from the civil rights groups, to the police officers, to the police chiefs, and we're going to work this out.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Suburbs are by and large integrated

I was raised in the suburbs. This is not 1950. All these dog whistles and racism don't work anymore. Suburbs are by-and-large integrated. More people today drive their kids to soccer practice--black & white & Hispanic in the same car--as any time in the past.

What really is a threat to the suburbs is [Trump's] failure to deal with COVID. His failure to deal with the environment; they're being flooded, & burned out, because his refusal to do anything. That's why the suburbs are in trouble.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Our nation is at an inflection point

Today our nation is at an inflection point. I think the blinders have finally been taken off for the average American. We've got to provide economic opportunities that don't exist now. We have to find access to housing. We have to find access to education. You've got to make sure that we have community policing and reestablish bonds of trust. We've got to make sure that we do not tolerate the burning and looting that take place. All that does is undercut everything we're fighting for.
Source: AARP Survey on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Sep 28, 2020

I've benefited from white privilege, & been looked down upon

Q: [In interviews for the new book "Rage", author] Bob Woodward asked President Trump about whether he benefited from white privilege. And the President said, "no, I don't feel that way at all." Have you benefited from white privilege?

BIDEN: Sure, I've benefited just because I don't have to go through what my black brothers and sisters have had to go through, #1. But #2, growing up in Scranton, we're used to guys who look down their nose at us. People who look at us and think that we're suckers; they think that we're not equivalent to them. "If you didn't have a college degree, you must be stupid." If in fact, you didn't get to go to an Ivy school. Well, I tell you, it bothered me. When you guys started talking on television about Biden, "if he wins, he'll be the first person without an Ivy League degree to be elected president." I think, "who the hell makes you think I have to have an Ivy League degree to be president?" Guys like me, were the first in my family to go to college.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

People have the right to protest peacefully

Q: You've called the President's rallies irresponsible. Yet you praised peaceful protesting this summer? What is the difference when it comes to COVID safety?

BIDEN: I think COVID safety is a problem no matter where people are if they don't have masks on. The context of praising people who protest peacefully, is--there was a question of right to speak, not to loot, not to burn, not to do anything that causes damage. The right to speak out makes sense, but there is a big difference between people walking, moving along, and people sitting down cheek to jowl, shoulder to shoulder, a thousand of them breathing on one another indoors.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Military should not deal with domestic unrest

Q: What about calling in the National Guard to deal with Black Lives Matters protests? Regarding the violent protests in several cities?

BIDEN: I've condemned every form of violence, no matter what the source is. It is simply wrong to engage the military, in dealing with domestic unrest as a consequence of people protesting. We can take care of this. It can be taken care of-- we took care of in our administration. There's no need to escalate this.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Government should look like the country, by gender & race

Q: Did you select a woman of color to rally your base, or did you feel pressure?

BIDEN: I didn't feel pressure to select a Black woman but I think that the government should look like the people, look like the country. 51% of the people in this country are women. In order to be able to succeed, you've got to be dealt in across the board. I cannot understand and fully appreciate what it means to walk in her shoes.

HARRIS: Joe and I have talked about the state of Black America. He has a deep sense of awareness and knowledge about systematic racism. And Joe actually knows how to say the words "Black Lives Matter."

BIDEN: I was asked about voting for Trump, and I said, "How can a Black man vote for him?" I shouldn't have said that. I was trying to make the point that this is a man who spent his entire career denigrating African Americans. But the truth is, there's a fundamental difference between Donald Trump and me on the issue of race across the board.

Source: ABC This Week 2020 National Convention Biden/Harris Q&A , Aug 23, 2020

My father taught us that silence was complicity

Just a week ago was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville. Remember seeing those neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists coming out of the fields with lighted torches? Veins bulging? Spewing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the '30s? Remember what the president said? There were, quote, "very fine people on both sides."

At that moment, I knew I'd have to run. My father taught us that silence was complicity. And I could not remain silent or complicit.

Maybe George Floyd's murder was the breaking point. Maybe John Lewis's passing, the inspiration. However it has come to be, America is ready to, in John's words, to lay down "the heavy burdens of hate at last," and to do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism.

Source: Acceptance speech at 2020 Democratic National Convention , Aug 20, 2020

Require suburbs to open up to low-income housing

The ex-veep wants to ramp up an Obama-era scheme called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing that barely got underway before President Trump took office. Obama's Department of Housing and Urban Development floated a requirement for "balanced housing" in every suburb. "Balanced" meant affordable even for people who need federal vouchers. Towns had to make it possible for low-income minorities to choose suburban living and provide "adequate support to make their choices possible."
Source: New York Post on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jul 21, 2020

Made commitment to have women on Senate Judiciary Committee

I opposed Clarence Thomas from the beginning. I believed Anita Hill from the beginning. And I tried to control the questions under the laws that exist for the Senate. And I was unable to do it.

What I did was, I made a commitment. Never again would the Judiciary Committee only have men on that committee. So I went out and I campaigned for two people: Carol Moseley Braun and Dianne Feinstein on the condition that if they won, they would join the committee. I kept that commitment.

Source: CNN S.C. Town Hall on eve of 2020 primary , Feb 26, 2020

1962: Blacks get daily reminders of racial discrimination

In the summer of 1962, when he was 19, as a lifeguard at a public pool, Joe recalled, "I was the only white guy they knew." They asked him all sorts of questions. Sometimes the questions startled Joe. One guy asked him if he owned a five-gallon gasoline can. "No I don't," Joe told him." But what do you need it for?" Joe learned that African Americans couldn't take a simple road trip without suffering discrimination and humiliation. "I'm going down to see my grandmom in North Carolina." The lifeguard told him. "We can't stop at most gas stations. They won't let us stop at most gas stations."

From his lifeguard experience Joe gained a passion for civil rights. "It was a real awakening for me," he explained." Everyday, it seemed to me, Black people got subtle and not so subtle reminders that they didn't belong in America. It was a dozen small cuts a day." Biden participated in marches to desegregate movie theaters in Wilmington. But he was not a rabble-rousing, get-out-in-the streets protestor.

Source: Barack and Joe, by Steven Levingston, p. 56-7 , Oct 8, 2019

I didn't praise racists; pro-civil rights as public defender

Sen. Kamala HARRIS: Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist, but it was hurtful to hear you talk about two senators who built their reputations on segregation. You also worked with them to oppose busing [in the 1970s].

Joe BIDEN: It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true. I was a public defender. I didn't become a prosecutor. I came out and I left a good law firm to become a public defender, when my city was in flames because of the assassination of Dr. King. In terms of busing, you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. That's fine. That's one of the things I argued for. Everything I have done in my career, I ran because of civil rights, I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights, and those civil rights include not only African-Americans, but the LGBT community.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

I didn't oppose busing; I opposed DOE ordering it

Sen. Kamala HARRIS: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then [in the 1970s]?

V.P. Joe BIDEN: I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education.

HARRIS: There was a failure of states to integrate public schools. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley public schools.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision.

HARRIS: That's where the federal government must step in. That's why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That's why we need to pass the Equality Act. That's why we need to pass the ERA, because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

In the 1970s, I worked with opponents to get things done

Joe Biden has refused to apologize for remarks in which he praised the "civility" of an arch-segregationist Mississippi senator he used to collaborate with. The controversy began at a fundraiser: Biden was lamenting the decline of comity in America's political culture when his remarks took a dark detour. The former vice president voiced nostalgia for his ability to partner with Southern segregationist Democrats back when he joined the Senate in the 1970s. "At least there was some civility," Biden said. "We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished."

For Biden, the remarks seemed intended to build on the narrative he's framed for himself as an old-school politician, versed in bipartisanship, who knows how to make Washington work. Decrying the current state of affairs in the Beltway, Biden added: "Today you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

Source: Rolling Stone magazine on 2020 Democratic primary , Jun 19, 2019

You don't have to agree with opponents to work with them

In his remarks [about comity in the 1970s Senate] Biden voiced fondness for one colleague in particular, James Eastland, a Mississippi senator with a despicable legacy of racial hatred and incitement who was also a mentor to Biden in his early days in Washington.

Biden's remarks drew swift rebukes from 2020 challengers, including Sen. Cory Booker and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio--both of whom insisted Biden should apologize. Senator Kamala Harris also expressed concern over Biden's "misinformed" praise of openly racist politicians.

Senator Eastland was an avatar of the darkest racism of the Civil Rights-era South. He championed white supremacy in language that now shocks the conscience.

Biden said, "I could not have disagreed with Jim Eastland mor

Source: Rolling Stone magazine on 2020 Democratic primary , Jun 19, 2019

Will be mindful of changing social norms & personal space

Biden's campaign launch comes after facing allegations rom women that he had made them feel uncomfortable with what was described as inappropriate touching. "Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I've heard what these women are saying," Biden explained in a video. "Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That's my responsibility and I will meet it."
Source: Fox News on 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 25, 2019

1970s: Desegregating society ok, but not via school busing

Biden's statements [opposing school desegregation] 44 years ago represent one of the earliest chapters in his well-documented record on racial issues, during which he generally has worked alongside African American leaders and been embraced by them.

Biden's spokesman said the former V.P. still believes he was right to oppose busing, noting, "He never thought busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware--a position which most people now agree with. As he said during those many years of debate, busing would not achieve equal opportunity. And it didn't."

The spokesman said Biden has a distinguished history of working for civil rights and against segregation. As a young man, Biden fought to desegregate a movie theater in Delaware, and worked as the only white employee at a largely black swimming pool. "Joe Biden is today--and has been for more than 40 years in public life--one of the strongest and most powerful voices for civil rights in America," the spokesman concluded.

Source: Washington Post, "Desegregation," on 2020 Democratic primary , Mar 7, 2019

Endorsed diverse slate of candidates for Congress

From American Possibilities, Biden's PAC: "Together, in 2018, we endorsed a slate of 133 candidates. More than half of those endorsements were women. A quarter were people of color. Almost half of those candidates were under 50 years of age.

I traveled to 24 states in support of 65 of our candidates. And thanks to supporters everywhere, we contributed more than $600,000 to candidates this cycle.

All that effort paid off-and helped some exceptional leaders win tough races."

Source: 2018 Congressional endorsements by AmericanPossibilities.org , Feb 25, 2019

FactCheck: Claims he supported busing; record says otherwise

On a Pod Save America podcast, Biden claimed, "In the middle of the single most extensive busing order in all the United States history, in my state, I voted against an amendment, cast the deciding vote, to allow courts to keep busing as a remedy."

Narrowly speaking, Biden may have voted against an amendment here or there. Biden's record of voting and pushing for anti-busing measures goes back to when he first took office as a Senator in 1973. As historian Jason Sokol noted in a 2015 article for Politico, Biden told the Senate in 1975 that he was "convinced that busing is a bankrupt concept." Busing, according to Biden, "implied that blacks have no reason to be proud of their inheritance and their own culture."

Source: FactCheck on 2019 candidates, in Current Affairs magazine , Apr 11, 2018

1962: only white lifeguard at pool of African-American kids

Ever since his first election, Biden has been a vocal champion of civil rights. His inspiration? The swimming pools.

In 1962, while still at college, Joe made some extra cash as a lifeguard. A dozen lifeguards worked at the Prices Run swimming pool, but he was the only white guy. He was one of the only white people in the entire pool, which was filled with hundreds of African American swimmers.

Biden played hoops with the other lifeguards. Made friends. And perhaps for the first time, he began to see the world through a different, less privileged set of eyes. He heard stories of segregation at movie theatres, of naked racism, of how black people endured "a dozen small cuts a day."

He got along well with the community. Fifty years later, Joe returned to that swimming pool. Wearing a navy suit instead of swim trunks, he sat in the lifeguard chair. "I owe this neighborhood," he told the crowd. " I learned so, so much." By then the pool had a new name: The Joseph R. Biden Jr. Aquatic Center.

Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p. 38-9 , Oct 24, 2017

Delivered eulogy for segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond

Biden would soon meet a man who seemed to embody everything that he had opposed: Senator Strom Thurmond, the segregationist, [who said] "Segregation in the South is honest, open, and aboveboard".

Despite those repugnant positions, Biden did his best not to vilify the man, and he watched as Thurmond's positions on race gradually evolved.

Biden believes in our ability to change so much, in fact, that he unwittingly used the word five times in one paragraph. "Strom knew America was changing, and that there was a lot he didn't understand about that change. Much of the change challenged many of his long-held views. But he also saw his beloved South Carolina and the people of South Carolina changing as well, and he knew the time had come to change himself."

Before Strom Thurmond died, he made sure to include one last detail in his will: The eulogy would need to be delivered by Joe Biden.

Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p. 60-1 , Oct 24, 2017

1976: Opposed school busing to combat segregation

[In 1968, Biden] flatly opposed school busing to combat segregation, calling it "a phony issue which allows the white liberals to sit in suburbia, confident that they are not going to have to live next to blacks."

While Biden agreed that busing was warranted to combat segregation by law as imposed in the Deep South, he was against busing to deal with de facto segregation based on residential patterns, as was the case in Delaware.

In 1975 he introduced and won Senate approval of two anti-busing amendments. Busing, he wrote, "was a liberal train wreck, and it was tearing people apart." Biden was categorical: "I oppose busing. It's an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me." He made the distinction between de jure integration, required by a court order to end segregation, to which he acquiesced, and de facto integration, motivated by a desire to alter the racial composition of a school absent a court order, which HEW espoused and Biden strenuously opposed.

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by J. Witcover, p. 75&81&134-5 , Oct 5, 2010

Inalienable rights cannot be denied by any majority

[At the Supreme Court hearings in 1987, Biden challenged Bork's basic argument tof enumerated rights in the Constitution, saying, "I believe all Americans are born with certain inalienable rights. As a child of God, I believe my rights are not derived from the Constitution. My rights are not denied by any majority. My rights are because I exist. They were given to me and each of my fellow citizens by our creator, and they represent the essence of human dignity."

His concerns [about Bork] touched on "the relationship of people of different races in our land; whether it was wrong for state courts to enforce covenants that prohibited black couples from buying homes in white neighborhoods; whether the court was wrong in allowing literacy tests in voting; and whether in the future the Court will intervene to protect the rights of the races.." Biden listed other privacy rights: in marriage, in child-raising, in having private schools; above all in freedom of expression in politics and the arts.

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.199-200 , Oct 5, 2010

1987 Biden Report: Reject Bork; he'd roll back civil rights

A brief [on Bork's Supreme Court nomination] was prepared for Joe Biden, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the Biden Report. Bork later said in his best-selling book The Tempting of America that the report "so thoroughly misrepresented a plain record that it easily qualifies as world class in the category of scurrility."

A hotly contested United States Senate debate over Bork's nomination ensued, partly fueled by strong opposition by civil and women's rights groups concerned with what they claimed was Bork's desire to roll back civil rights decisions of the Warren and Burger courts. Bork is one of only three Supreme Court nominees to ever be opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with William Rehnquist and Samuel Alito. Bork was also criticized for being an "advocate of disproportionate powers for the executive branch of Government, almost executive supremacy," as allegedly demonstrated by his role in the Saturday Night Massacre.

Source: Wikipedia.org, "Robert Bork", re: Slouching Towards Gomorrah , Nov 17, 2009

1968: Wilmington riots failed at conversation between races

Wilmington was a strange place at the end of 1968. The city had been under martial law for nearly six months. The Democratic governor, Charles Terry, had called out the National Guard when rock and bottle throwing escalated to sniping, looting, & arson i the days following Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Seven months after the rioting, Gov. Terry refused to call off the Guard. News cameras would show up to do stories about the only city where the Guard was still patrolling black neighborhoods. The white citizens were almost all happy to have the Guard there. They were afraid riots might ignite in the ghetto and spread. They were afraid Wilmington’s police force wasn’t big enough to keep it contained.

In the black neighborhoods of East Wilmington residents were afraid. Guardsmen were prowling the streets with loaded weapons. Curfews were in effect. The news had a way of making these stories seem like a conversation between the races, but I knew blacks & whites weren’t talking to each other.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p. 42-43 , Jul 31, 2007

Opposed to quota-systems; they insure mediocrity

We've lost our bearings since the 1954 "Brown vs. School Board" desegregation case. To "desegregate" is different than to "integrate." I got into trouble with Democratic liberals in 1972 when I refused to support a quota-system for the Democratic National Convention. I am philosophically opposed to quota-systems; they insure mediocrity. The new [school busing] integration plans being offered are really just quota-systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with; what it says is, "in order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son." That's racist! Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child? The point is, almost all the new liberal leaders and civil rights leaders oppose busing.
Source: People Paper (Newark DE) interview in Congressional Record , Oct 2, 1975

Joe Biden on Voting Record

COVID: Mask mandate is about saving lives

Q: Are you going to force people to wear a mask for coronavirus?

BIDEN: I'm going to ask every governor to step up. This isn't about freedom; it's about freedom for your neighbors. It's about a patriotic responsibility to protect your neighbors. The only way you can do that is to be socially distanced and wearing a mask when you're in public, when you're outside. This is the first time I've ever heard people say that doing something patriotic you can save other people's lives, impacts on their freedom. Give me a break; this is about saving lives.

Q: Would you be prepared to shut this country down again?

BIDEN: I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration's thinking. In order to keep the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus. I would shut it down, I would listen to the scientists.

Source: ABC This Week 2020 National Convention David Muir Q&A , Aug 23, 2020

1978: opposed busing except for gov’t-intended segregation

I’ll never forget going to an event in the school gymnasium in a working-class town near Wilmington. Everybody in the room wanted to know where I really stood on busing. I tried to explain what I’d been doing in the Senate and the difference between de facto (or unintentional) segregation and de jure (or government-intended) segregation. But the audience wanted a full-out mea culpa and a hard statement that I despised busing. And I got hot. I wanted them to be clear where I stood. Look, I told them, I was against busing to remedy de facto segregation owing to housing patterns & community comfort, but if it was intentional segregation, I’d personally pay for helicopters to move the children. There were howls in the crowd.

I stand by this statement, but it was probably the single stupidest moment I could have chosen to make it. I actually felt physically threatened.

Busing took effect just a few weeks before the 1978 Election Day.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.127-128 , Jul 31, 2007

Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.

The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment; Bill S.J.Res.12 ; vote number 2006-189 on Jun 27, 2006

Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Reference: Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Reference: Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.

Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
Reference: Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1998-23 on Mar 6, 1998

Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.

This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture; Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1997-275 on Oct 23, 1997

Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Reference: Bill HR 3396 ; vote number 1996-280 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.

Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill S. 2056 ; vote number 1996-281 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.

Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill; Bill S. J. Res. 31 ; vote number 1995-600 on Dec 12, 1995

Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.

Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Reference: Bill HR 1854 ; vote number 1995-317 on Jul 20, 1995

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Biden scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Issue a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks.

Biden co-sponsored issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks


LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.
Source: Rosa Parks Stamp (S.2154/H.R.4343) 05-S2154 on Dec 20, 2005

Rated 78% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

Biden scores 78% by the HRC on gay rights

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:

About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):

The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006

Rated 100% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.

Biden scores 100% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

Biden co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment

Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.

"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.

"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."

Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Joe Biden on other issues:
2020 Presidential Candidates:
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
CEO Don Blankenship (Constitution-WV)
CEO Rocky De La Fuente (R-CA)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian-IL)
Gloria La Riva (Socialist-CA)
Kanye West (Birthday-CA)

2020 GOP and Independent primary candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (Libertarian-RI)
Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Zoltan Istvan (Libertarian-CA)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Ian Schlackman (Green-MD)
CEO Howard Schultz (Independent-WA)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (Green-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld (Libertarian-NY,R-MA)

2020 Democratic Veepstakes Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D-GA)
Rep.Val Demings (D-FL)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
Gov.Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM)
Sen.Catherine Masto (D-NV)
Gov.Gina Raimondo (D-RI)
Amb.Susan Rice (D-ME)
Sen.Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Gov.Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI)
A.G.Sally Yates (D-GA)
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External Links about Joe Biden:

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Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
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Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

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