Joe Biden declares support for trans people joining military (VIDEO)
The Vice President praised the LGBT community and declared his support for trans people serving openly in the U.S. military.
Biden’s declaration is the strongest yet from somebody in the Obama administration.
His supporters say his speech echoed his early endorsement of marriage equality in 2012 – before that of Obama and possible Presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
Although the White House says Obama supports a Pentagon review aimed at ending the trans ban, neither the President nor the military has confirmed that the policy will be changed.
“No longer is there any question transgender people are able to serve in the United States military,” Biden told a crowd of 3,000 gay rights activists at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual gala dinner.
“It’s simple,” the vice president said.
“All Americans are qualified to serve, should be able to serve.”
His comments come after Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon’s current regulations banning trans individuals are outdated.
He has ordered a study aimed at formally ending one the ban, with a decision set to made by May 2016.
Biden – who has yet to announce whether he will run in the 2016 election – went on to declare trans rights to be “the civil rights issue of our time” as he delivered the keynote speech.
He also said the gay community shouldn’t live in fear of “those shrill voices” still trying to undo gay marriage because the country “has moved so far beyond them and their appeals to prejudice and fear and homophobia.”
He praised the LGBT community for their campaigning for marriage equality and giving the straight community in America the courage to join them.
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“The American people are so much better than their leaders give them credit for,” he said.
However, he warned that there are “homophobes still left — most of them are running for president,” in a jab at the Republican candidates he could imminently be facing.
Hillary Clinton was originally due to deliver the keynote speech – but had already agreed to appear on Saturday Night Live.
She instead hosted delivered a breakfast speech for HRC, telling a crowd of LGBT supporters that she is “running for president to stand up for the fundamental rights of LGBT Americans.”
Watch Biden’s full speech below.