Vice President Joe Biden mocked potential Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s comments on homosexuality Friday at a conference organized by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group in Washington.
In an interview aired on CNN this week, Carson said that being gay is “absolutely” a choice, citing prison rape as proof. “A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight —and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” said Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon who recently announced a presidential exploratory committee.
But Biden on Friday was not sure how to respond. “Every ridiculous assertion from Dr. Carson on — I mean Jesus, God,” he said. “Oh God. I mean, it’s kind of hard to fathom, isn’t it?”
Still, the vice president pointed to the “universal ridicule” Carson suffered as evidence of progress for LGBT rights. “That wouldn’t have happened two years ago, five years ago,” he said.
Biden is himself considering a presidential run in 2016, but has been overshadowed among Democrats by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin earned applause from the hundreds of activists who gathered in Washington Friday when he quoted Clinton equating LGBT rights and human rights before introducing Biden.
Clinton spoke at another high profile Washington event just two days earlier, addressing the 30th Anniversary Gala of Emily’s List, a Democratic women’s group.
Ahead of this weekend’s anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march, Biden connected the civil rights movement and the LGBT rights movement, saying both were part of the “same movement” for equality.
In 2012, Biden made news by upending protocol when he came out for marriage equality before his boss, President Obama, was ready to do so himself. Biden referenced the incident Friday, saying that when he started the job, “I told the president I wasn’t going to change my brand.”
The activists at the event were confident the Supreme Court will rule in their favor in an upcoming landmark case on marriage equality. The next fight, according to HRC president Chad Griffin, is over a federal non-discrimination law for the workplace, housing, and other areas.