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Biden Remarks on ENDA Prompt Renewed Grilling of White House Over Executive Order

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In ani interview on Wednesday with the HuffPost, Vice President Joe Biden said he didn't see any downside in the President issuing an executive order  on LGBT workplace discrimination but said that the White House still prefers the matter be handled legislatively, by passing ENDA.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about that statement yesterday.

Here is the transcript, via the White House:

Q    The Vice President said yesterday that he doesn’t see any downside to the President taking executive action on LGBT workplace discrimination.  Does the President agree?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think the complete statement was that what we’re focused on -- the big accomplishment, which would be passage by both houses of Congress and the signing into law by the President of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

I think it’s -- points have been made, and I think in response to something I said earlier, that it’s clear that executive orders aren’t necessarily completely overlapping with what would be achieved by legislation.  I think there’s no doubt that the legislation would be a far greater accomplishment and more broadly applied.  And that is why we continue to push the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass that, because those who oppose it, I hope -- at least their children -- will regret the reasons they put forward for opposing it, because they sound a lot like the reasons opponents argued against civil rights legislation in the past.  And they were wrong there.  They’re wrong now.

So I don’t have any updates on suggested or proposed executive orders.  What I can tell you is that we still call on Congress, the House, to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Q    What is there a reluctance to do something on the executive order when it could complement this broader push that you guys really want?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I just don’t engage in discussion about speculative executive orders.  When the President decides to take action using his administrative authority, some --

Q    But the Vice President speculated.  He said that he didn’t see any downside.

MR. CARNEY:  No, I think he answered a question about it, as I have repeatedly.   And I’m happy to.  I think this is an incredibly important issue, and I think it is remarkable how much progress has been made and remarkable that there is still resistance to the progress that remains to be made.  That’s certainly the President’s view.

I just don’t -- I try not to engage in speculation about any executive action the President may or may not take.  What I can tell you is that there is legislation on Capitol Hill that we strongly support and would like to see passed by the House.  Thank you all very much.

In March, 195 lawmakers, all Dems, signed a letter urging Obama to issue the executive order.


Joe Biden Joined Instagram

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Here's his first contribution, which Ray-Ban will love:

Vice President Biden's getting ready to head to Pennsylvania with President Obama this afternoon, where he'll lay out steps we can take to train America's workers with the skills they need for good middle-class jobs. Follow @VP for the latest from the Vice President, and the occasional aviators pic.

In related news, you can follow Towleroad's Instagram here.


Vice President Joe Biden Blasts Global Human Rights Abuses Against LGBT People: VIDEO

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Vice President Joe Biden delivered a powerful speech to approximately 1,000 folks at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles last night focusing on the still-unpassed Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the importance of promoting LGBT rights internationally.

The Washington Blade reports:

“I travelled 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 said during his 30-minute speech.

Noting that being gay is illegal in 80 countries, Biden laid out the challenges faced by LGBT people overseas. In places like in Jamaica, he decried the practice of “corrective rape” for lesbians, and was critical of the anti-gay law in Nigeria that makes entering into same-sex marriage or supporting LGBT rights punishable with time in prison.

The vice president also criticized Russia, which has recently been condemned by the United States by military incursion into Ukraine, over its law banning pro-gay propaganda to minors.

“By the way, as the great Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said, ‘A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors,’ and we’re seeing that today in Ukraine,” Biden said.

Buzzfeed adds that Biden also called the anti-gay discrimination in the U.S. "barbaric":

“Hate can never be defended because it’s a so-called cultural norm,” he said. “I’ve had it up to here with cultural norms.”

He called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would outlaw discrimination by most private employers against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Read Biden's full remarks HERE.

Continue reading "Vice President Joe Biden Blasts Global Human Rights Abuses Against LGBT People: VIDEO" »


Obama and Biden Jog a Tough Lap Around the White House: VIDEO

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President Obama and VP Joe Biden jog a lap around the White House in a new video for Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. The dogs have never seen anything like it.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama and Biden Jog a Tough Lap Around the White House: VIDEO" »


Obama Advisers Furious That Biden Stole President's Thunder on Gay Marriage: Book

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Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book Double Down, about the 2012 campaign promises to be as much of a page-turner as Game Change, their previous book which chronicles the behind-the-scenes action during the 2008 election.

ObamaYesterday, Steve reported a tidbit about Michele Bachmann declaring "I'm a loser" after a disastrous Iowa campaign speech, but here's another that will probably be of interest, describing what went on before Obama's "evolution" on marriage equality, which as you may recall, resulted in a daytime TV 'breaking news' interruption.

If you'll recall, there was much debate about whether Obama's 'evolution' was prompted by a  push from Joe Biden, which took place days before, on a Meet The Press segment.

Now we're finding out the answer, the Huffington Post reports:

DoubledownBiden was a veteran of "Meet The Press." Still, the book reports that Obama advisers were worried that he would speak out of turn, and over several days, they spent "upwards of twelve hours" drilling him on a slate campaign issues.

But there was one they left out -- gay marriage.

On Friday, May 4, 2012, Biden sat down to tape the interview, and said, "I am the vice president of the United States of America; the president sets the policy." He added, "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, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties."

Biden didn't think he had made news. But Plouffe was mad.

"WHAT THE F--K? was his reaction when he took a look at the transcript. We were going to do this! In the next two weeks! As a f--king surprise! HOW CAN THIS HAVE HAPPENED?!" the authors write.

Obama had wanted to "evolve" on gay marriage before Election Day, the book reports, and he was planning to come out in favor the next time he was asked.

Plouffe and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer had urged him to state his position in a better venue than a simple press conference.

"Find the time and moment soon rather than later," Obama told them.

The book goes on to say that Biden apologized to Obama shortly before that breaking news announcement when he had finally come to understand why everyone was so angry at him.


Joe Biden Cancels HRC Dinner Speech Over Government Shutdown

BidenVice President Joe Biden has canceled his keynote speech to the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday, the AP reports :

Biden was scheduled to deliver the keynote address to about 3,400 people at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner on Saturday. It's the nation's biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, and gay and lesbian activists were among President Barack Obama's most loyal supporters during his re-election campaign.

But the partial shutdown of the federal government has led Obama and now Biden to cancel a number of events. Obama canceled an appearance at a glitzy Congressional Hispanic Caucus event Wednesday and has scaled back his upcoming trip to Asia.


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