- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2015

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. tied the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement Friday, a day before the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and touted progress on both fronts since the 1960s.

Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign’s Spring Equality Convention, Mr. Biden read a quote from former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you pour on it, the more tightly it will contract.”

“I want you to understand — you’re never going to be able to eliminate the bigots — they’re a small percentage of the population,” Mr. Biden said. “They’ll continue to be vocal, but make one thing absolutely clear, folks. They are an incredibly smaller and smaller minority. This country is changing. It is changing.

“It doesn’t mean we should not and must not confront them everywhere they raise their ugly heads, but I’m optimistic,” he said.

In his speech, the vice president also took a shot at retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for recent comments Mr. Carson, a possible 2016 GOP presidential contender, made about homosexuality.

“Eight, 10 years ago, even two years ago, homophobic statements would have been if not embraced, not viewed as having generated any political liability,” Mr. Biden said.” Look at what’s happening even in, quote, the other party today. … Now, every ridiculous assertion from Dr. Carson on — I mean, Jesus, God. Oh, God. I mean, it’s kind of hard to fathom, isn’t it? But think about the universal ridicule. That wouldn’t have happened two years ago, five years ago. It matters. It matters.”

Asked on CNN earlier this week if he thought being gay was a choice, Mr. Carson said, “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay,” Mr. Carson said. “So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

Mr. Carson later apologized for the remarks.

Mr. Biden also alluded to when he famously got out ahead of the administration’s public support of gay marriage during an appearance on “Meet the Press” in May 2012.

“Made me really popular, didn’t it?” he said. “I told the president I wasn’t gonna change my brand.

“You’ve done more to liberate straight folks,” he said to some laughter. “Not a joke. Not a joke. Not a joke — than you can possibly imagine.”

Mr. Biden, who worked as a lifeguard at an inner-city pool in Delaware during the 1960s, also tied the gay rights movement to the Selma march in 1965 and the civil rights movement. He spoke two years ago at an event commemorating the 48th anniversary of the march.

“Like so many [in] my generation, the civil rights movement — which is actually the human rights movement — captured my passion and my commitment, and I was optimistic then,” he said.

“But truth be told, there is no way I could imagine standing before all of you today as vice president of the United States serving with the first African-American president in history — it was beyond anyone’s comprehension,” he said. “There’s no way that I would have told you I’d be standing before you where a Supreme Court had long since declared that anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional, where gays and lesbians proudly serve in the military, where attacking someone because of their gender identity is considered a hate crime, and where 37 states recognize marriage equality.

“We’ve come a great distance,” he said. “And we still have much further to go. But folks, we’re over the bridge. It’s a different place. The momentum is undeniably on our side and is not capable of being slowed. It is not capable of being stopped.”

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