Oct 17, 2023

Dr. Jill Biden and President Joe Biden Deliver Remarks at the HRC’s Annual National Dinner 2023 Transcript

Dr. Jill Biden and President Joe Biden Deliver Remarks at the HRC's Annual National Dinner 2023 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDr. Jill BidenDr. Jill Biden and President Joe Biden Deliver Remarks at the HRC’s Annual National Dinner 2023 Transcript

Dr. Jill Biden and President Joe Biden Deliver Remarks at the HRC’s Annual National Dinner 2023. Read the transcript here.

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Jill Biden (00:18):

Hello. Hi, everybody. Hi. Thank you. Thank you. Please. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Please. Please. Thank you. Thanks. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 2 (00:50):

Four more years.

Jill Biden (00:50):

Thank you.

Speaker 2 (00:50):

Four more years.

Jill Biden (00:50):


Speaker 2 (00:50):

Four more years. Four more years.

Jill Biden (00:54):

Really, thank you. Please. Well, I can certainly say, we feel the love from you. Thank you. Thank you, Kelly, for that introduction. You are a trailblazer, and HRC is so lucky to have you.

How is everyone tonight? Look at you, such beauty and boldness. I’m so proud that this community has made DC such a thriving, welcoming home to LGBTQ+ people. It’s a remarkable departure from where we had been when DC was a place where outing was used as a political weapon.

Tonight, we can celebrate without fear or shame, but despite the freedom and acceptance we have fought for in places like DC, we know that in too many other parts of our country, these rights and freedoms are under attack.

Across the country, in places like Texas and Florida and Alabama, LGBTQ individuals don’t have the freedom to be honest with their family or embrace their gender identity at work. They don’t have the freedom to walk down the halls of their school, as their authentic self. They don’t have the freedom to hold hands with their partner on the sidewalk.

While we celebrate this beautiful community tonight, let’s also remember how lucky we are, and harden our resolve to advocate for those who are not. We look forward to a time when all people, in all places can feel the freedom and the joy that we feel here tonight.

Until then, we fight. We fight for the trans individuals, who are being bullied and killed. We fight for the LGBTQ kids who are forced into conversion therapy. We fight for the communities around the world where being gay is punishable by death.

Joe and I stand firmly and proudly with you in these fights, and we will be with you every step of the way. There’s nobody that I’d rather have in my corner than my husband Joe Biden. Joe has always been a fierce advocate for this community, and I am so proud of all the work that he has done for the LGBTQ+ individuals here in the US, and around the globe.

I am so honored to introduce him tonight, so please welcome the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

Joe Biden (04:59):

Hello. Hello. Hello. My name’s Joe Biden. I’m Jill’s husband. Folks, let me begin with a sincere thank you. Please, have a seat.

Speaker 2 (05:15):

We love you, Joe.

Joe Biden (05:16):

Well, thank you. I hope you understand that you are the beacon of light around the world, not a joke. Whether I was in India, wherever I am, LGBTQ community comes up to me and says, “Can you help?” Not a joke. Not a joke. “Can you help? You’ve given people so much hope.” It’s all about hope. Think about it, how do you live without hope?

This community in the United States of America is leading the world, and giving people hope. Folks, my first thing I want to say tonight, thank you, thank you for changing lives around the world. You’re doing it. You really are.

For some of you who are close to my age, it wasn’t easy to do. No. I’m not joking. You lose your job. You get beat up. You get the whole different circumstance.

Speaker 2 (06:11):

[inaudible 00:06:14].

Joe Biden (06:15):

Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ve been here every time you’ve invited me. Be careful, I’m like a poor relative, I show up when I’m invited. Look, Kelly Robinson, thank you. Thank you for the introduction and for your leadership, and congratulations to tonight’s awardees, Shonda Rhimes, an unstoppable creative force, Lena [inaudible 00:06:36], I’ll tell you what, path breaking storyteller, and Matt Bomer, an actor who inspires, and you do inspire, Matt. [inaudible 00:06:46] and Daniel [inaudible 00:06:48] courageous young activists who lift our hopes up for the future.

Earlier this year, they were kind enough to invite Jill and me to the Trans Youth Prom. We couldn’t make it, but it sounds like you had a hell of a lot of fun.

These young honorees joined us in June for the largest Pride Month celebration ever, ever held at the White House, and there’s going to be more at the White House. LGBTQ youth are among the bravest people I know, and you four are no exception.

Folks, this is the fourth time I’ve joined this dinner, coming back to my days as vice president. At this pivotal moment of history, Jill and I have come here tonight to say thank you for your courage, thank you for your hope, and thank you for your pride. Thank you for defending equal rights and dignity of all people, despite intense opposition and hate-fueled rhetoric, even violence to try to keep people moving.

You inspire us, and I want you all LGBTQ Americans to know the Biden/Harris administration has your back. I don’t know who’s hollering down there but I can’t hear you.

Well, look-

Speaker 2 (08:03):

[inaudible 00:08:09].

Joe Biden (08:13):

I can’t hear her. What’s she saying? Well, thank you, whatever you’re saying, I can’t hear you.

Look, I’ve been labeled the most-

Speaker 2 (08:24):

Four more years.

Joe Biden (08:24):

Oh, I get it. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. No. I’m only joking.

Look, I’ve been labeled the most pro-equality president in history. I’m not sure that’s true, but I’ll tell you what, I’m grateful to lead an administration with more out and proud staff members at every level than every previous administration combined. All combined.

Together with all of you, my administration is defending, advancing equal human rights to the LGBTQ community, all across the country and I mean it, and around the world. I’m proud of our record. I signed historic executive orders [inaudible 00:09:10] civil rights protections in housing, employment, healthcare, education, the justice system.

As Commander-in-Chief, I ended the ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. As I pointed out, they can shoot as straight as anybody else I know.

On the anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Department of Defense announced the review of the records of LGBTQ service members who have been discharged for less than honorable service, which is going to make it easy for those veterans to finally access the benefits they earned through their service.

We launched an ambitious plan to end HI epidemic by 2030, proposed a new national PrEP program to prevent the spread of HIV, and we finally did away with the outdated policy banning gay and bisexuals from donating blood.

Leading with science, not stigma, we made human rights for LGBT around the world a top priority in my foreign policy, increasing our assistance to brave activists on the ground, defending human rights in countries that passed anti-gay laws like Uganda, going after Uganda, making clear that they cannot get the same benefits as other countries, and achieving tangible progress [inaudible 00:10:44].

Look, folks, here’s the deal, together, we’re standing up for families, some of you were with us on the South Lawn last December when I signed the Respect For Marriage Act, a law protecting the marriage of gay interracial couples. As I said in a TV interview more than a decade ago, marriage is a simple proposition, who do you love? Will you be loyal to the person you love?

I was raised in that was quite a simple proposition. I’ve told the story before, but I’m telling it again. I was raised by a man who was a really decent, honorable man. I remember he was dropping me off, I wanted to work in the projects as a lifeguard on the east side of Wilmington, and he was dropping me off on his way to work at the City Hall to go get an application to be a lifeguard there.

As I got out of the car, at the four corners in the center of town, two men, turns out one going to the Brandywine, one worked for the DuPont company, the other worked for [inaudible 00:11:53] company. This is back when I was a kid.

They leaned up and kissed one another. I never seen that before. I turned and looked at my dad, and he just looked at me and he said, “Joey, it’s simple. It’s simple, Joey. They love one another.” It’s a simple proposition.

I mean it. To everyone who helped make the Respect For Marriage Act a reality, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Together, we’re standing up for children. As you know better than anyone, there are young people all across America sitting in their bedrooms at night, scrolling through social media, and staring at the ceiling wondering will they ever be loved? What happens if they tell their parents? What’s going to go on?

Many of you have been through it. Will they be ever accepted by their families? Ever be free to be themselves? Whether they should even be there or here on Earth?

Nearly every day, I get letters, literally, from children and parents terrified by what’s happening all across America. A 13 year old transgender child wrote to me and said, “I hate looking at the news, not because I’m a teenager and it’s boring but because it’s painful. I hear adults, much older than me, debate about my existence when they don’t even know me.”

Our message to young people across America must be unequivocal, you’re loved, you’re heard, and you’re understood, and you belong. I mean it. We see who you are, made in the image of God, deserving dignity and respect and support. That’s why my administration combating the dangerous, cruel practice of conversion therapy has been so outspoken.

That’s why we launched the nationwide prejudice hotline where LGBTQ youth who are feeling isolated and overwhelmed can get help. They just have to call 988, and talk to a counselor. 988, and talk to a counselor.

This year, we’re committing even more resources, new federal action to address LGBTQ youth homelessness, new steps to protect kids in foster care. All of it matters, but for all the progress we’ve made, we know the barriers, the bias, the bigotry still exists. Perhaps because of the progress we’ve made, people want to push us back and pull us back.

Over 600 hateful laws introduced across the country, more than 70 of them becoming law just this last year, denying the existence of transgender people, silencing teachers, banning books, threatening parents with prison for getting their children healthcare. Families across the country now face excruciating decisions to move to a different state to protect their child from the dangerous anti-LGBTQ laws.

I received a letter from one mom who wrote me, “I despair for families like mine, who will already become refugees inside our nation.” Refugees inside our nation? That’s how she feels, like a refugee inside our nation.

This is the United States of America, and the United States Congress extreme MAGA Republicans trying to undo virtually every bit of progress we’ve made. They’re trying to wipe out federal funding to end the HIV epidemic, strip funding from community centers for seniors, reinstate the ban on transgender troops, ban the Department of Justice from enforcing civil rights laws, ban Pride flags from flying on public lands.

Who the hell … Oh. Not very presidential. They threaten the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. These are just the cruel attacks on LGBT community. They’re attacks on the foundations of our democracy. They take aim at our fundamental values and principles, like the right to free expression, the right to make our own healthcare decisions, the right to raise our own children.

I’m never going to stand by and watch families terrorize doctors and nurses, criminalize, or any child targeted for who they are. It’s who they are. Jill and I, Kamala, Doug, and our entire administration will always stand with you against hate.

Together, we’re going to make even more progress. You’ve heard me say before, and I apologize for having to repeat it, when a person can be married in the morning and thrown out of a restaurant for being gay in the afternoon, something is still fundamentally wrong in this country. That still exists.

That’s why we must pass the Equality Act, and pass it now. That’s what we must do. At a time when studies show violence against LGBTQ Americans is on the rise, we have to do more to keep people in the community safe.

25 years ago this week, Matthew Shepard was brutally taken from us. His courageous parents Judy and Dennis have turned his murder into a movement. As we remember him, we also remember the LGBTQ people and allies killed this year, like O’Shae Sibley, killed while dancing and expressing joy, Laura Ann Carleton, who simply hung a Pride flag outside of her … Think of that, she hung a Pride flag outside her home. She was killed. Colin Smith stabbed while defending a friend, and dozens of transgender Americans, especially transgender women of color killed every year.

The Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Health and Human Services has launched a safety partnership to better protect festivals and marches and community centers and businesses, to better protect healthcare providers serving the community, and to help folks report hate crimes.

Nearly a year after the horrific shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, we have to fully implement the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years, and then pass again the assault weapons ban, which Diane and I passed. No excuse. Who in God’s name needs a weapon with 100 rounds in the chamber? The weapon is only meant for one thing, to kill people. We did it before. We can do it again. As long as I’m in office, I’m not going to stop until we get it done again.

Look, folks, let me close with this, a week ago, we saw hate manifest in another way, in the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. More than 1300 innocent lives lost in Israel, including, at least, 27 Americans. Children, and grandparents alike, kidnapped, held hostage by Hamas.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza, innocent Palestinian families and a vast majority who have nothing to do with Hamas, they’re being used as human shield. Yesterday, I spoke for over an hour with a family member of those Americans who are still unaccounted for, on a Zoom call. They’ve endured an agony of not knowing what’s happened.

Not the same thing, but I can tell you what it’s like, it’s one thing to lose someone and you know you’re going to lose them and be there with them and hold their hands, like I was able to do with my son. It’s a very other thing to get a phone call, that I got years ago saying, “There’s been an accident. Your wife and daughter are dead. I’m not sure your boys are going to make it.”

The uncertainty, those two or three hours, trying to get back to find out. It’s the worst feeling in the world. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s yet another reminder that hate never goes away. It only hides. It hides under the rocks. I thought being so deeply involved in the civil rights movement when I was able to convince of all people, Strom Thurmond to vote for the Voting Rights Act in his last year, change his mind. I thought, “Well, you can defeat hate.”

Guess what happened? Hate just hides under the rocks until there’s a little oxygen blown under, like what happened in Charlottesville, just a little bit, and it comes roaring out again.

Folks, we have to reject hate in every form, because history has taught us, again and again, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, they’re all connected. Hate toward one group left unanswered opens the door for more hate toward more groups more often readily.

Here’s what we [inaudible 00:21:32] the antidote to hate is love. The answer to [inaudible 00:21:37] is solidarity, and standing up for everyone in humanity. That’s why the laws that actually protect equality matter. Every single American, no matter who you are, who you love, or where you come from, this shouldn’t be about conservative/liberal, red or blue. It should be about realizing the promise of the Declaration of Independence. It sounds corny, but a promise rooted in the sacred and the secular, that all people are created equal, and [inaudible 00:22:02] created with certain inalienable rights, among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Folks, it may sound corny but we never fully lived up to that promise, but we never walked away from it like many want us to do, and we’re not going to walk away from it on my watch, I promise you.

All of you here tonight, and all the advocates and allies across the country, I see the light that’s going to triumph over the darkness. I see the hope that’s going to conquer fear. I see the love that’s going to overcome hate in all its forms.

I see a great nation, because we’re, basically, a good people. We just have to remember who we are, and we’re not the victim and, although, we’re good folks, we got to stand up and holler. We got to stand up and holler. You cannot be silent. Silence is complicity. Silence is complicity.

Folks, we’re the United States of America, and there’s nothing beyond our capacity when we do it together. Nothing, nothing, nothing, so let’s stand together and get everyone else on the deal.

God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

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