Vice President Biden Praises Ireland As A Model For The United States

Vice President Biden Praises Ireland As A Model For The United States

joe_biden_"You should never underestimate the epiphanies that follow when a culture makes a breakthrough of conscience." - Vice President Joe Biden.

With all my heart, I truly believe gay rights, and especially marriage equality, would not have progressed as quickly as they have if it had not been for Vice President Joe Biden.

It was the vice president's "unauthorized" announcement backing marriage equality in May of 2012 that dragged the president out of his political comfort zone and into his current position supporting LGBT equality. At the time, some people called it a gaff. But for gays, it was glorious. It was as if V.P. Biden had laid his shoulder to a long barricaded door and given it a mighty shove. Just look at everything that has spilled out ever since.

President Obama is often said to have "evolved" on gay rights, but I have always thought he didn't evolve so much as Joe Biden ripped away his political cover. V.P. Biden shamed the administration into embracing equality. He forced them into taking a principled stand. To me, he's an LGBT hero - even more so than the president, or Hillary Clinton. They followed where he led.

Given his bona fides on the subject, I have been interested to know what Joe Biden thought of the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland this weekend, in which voters roundly approved an amendment to their Constitution defining marriage as the union of two people of any sex. Now we have that answer. Writing in the Advocate, the vice president praised Ireland as a model for other countries - including us, in the United States.

Here's Vice President Biden in his own words, as he reflected on the Irish vote:

Last weekend, more than 1.2 million Irish voters took a courageous stand for love and family when they overwhelmingly chose marriage equality.

They recognized the fundamental truth that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, and that there can be no justification for the denigration or persecution of anyone because of who they love or who they are.

I want to thank my good friends Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny and Tanaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] Joan Burton for their forceful leadership and eloquent advocacy on this critical issue.

I cannot improve upon the perfectly Irish statements they made following this historic vote, but I can echo the taoiseach’s words when he described the Irish as “a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people,” and that their choice will be “heard loudly across the living world as a sound of pioneering leadership.”

In 22 years, Ireland has gone from a nation where simply being LGBT was against the law to a nation where the people resoundingly stand for equal rights.

And here in the United States, in just the past three years we’ve gone from six states recognizing marriage equality to 37 states, comprising 224 million Americans. It’s about love. It’s about equality. It’s about dignity. It’s about our most cherished values. That’s what this is about — it’s all it’s ever been about.

There is still work to be done. There are still too many nations that deny people even the right to be safe from violence and severe discrimination, and too many states here in America that allow a person to be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual.

But the progress is undeniable. As advocates in Ireland, in the United States, and around the world have proven time and again, where there’s passion and commitment, there is opportunity.

I continue to believe that in every corner of the world, people want to do the right thing. You should never underestimate the epiphanies that follow when a culture makes a breakthrough of conscience.

But it takes leadership. It takes courageous individuals who are willing to step forward, to turn adversity into positive change, and to truly live the words of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

I think V.P. Biden is right once again. It’s about love. It’s about equality. It’s about dignity. There's nothing "gaff-ish" about that.

This has been reposted from New Civil Rights Movement.