Jill Biden

Human Rights Campaign National Dinner - Sept. 15, 2018

Jill Biden
September 15, 2018
Human Rights Campaign National Dinner
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Hey Chad, who made aviators popular?

Thank you – it's such an honor to be here with you tonight.

These are incredible times, aren't they? So much is at stake. In Chad Griffin, this community has a leader, fit for these times. So let me begin by saying thank you Chad; and thank you also to your mom and dad, Betty and Butch, who are also here with us tonight.

When I was 13 years old, I stomped down the street of my Willow Grove, Pennsylvania neighborhood and knocked on the door of a boy named Drew. Drew had been making fun of my little sister Bonnie, who was just nine years old at the time. Throwing worms at her, again – and she was terrified to go back to the bus stop. He was a serial offender, and I was tired of it. I had no idea what I was going to say to him. So when he opened the door, I pulled back and I punched him right in the face. And then I ran as fast as I could. I hate bullies.

At the Biden Foundation we have several pillars – helping middle class families, like the ones Joe and I grew up in; supporting military families; and advocating for community colleges. Now, some people have asked us, why did we make advancing LGBTQ equality one of our pillars? And there are a lot of answers. The families and the friends we've watched struggle, with prejudice and bigotry, friends like Sarah McBride; who you may know from her speech, who just spoke – who is a Delawarean – but we know her as Sally's daughter, our family friend. And as a teacher for more than 30 years – a lot of teachers I hope.

I watched my students

wrestle with who they are. Through their writing I get a window into their thoughts; and it can be upsetting to see the hate they've had to deal with, and the rawness of their pain. But for Joe and me, what it really comes down to, is that there is nothing that makes either of us more angry than a bully.

There's nothing that's more unfair or unjust than people using their power to try to make other people feel small; to tell them who they are, or what they are capable of; to say their identity doesn't belong. Whether it's someone picking up on my sister, or people telling our friends and neighbors that their love doesn't count – there is nothing that makes us want to pick a fight more than that.

That's why we knew that the challenges facing the LGBTQ community had to be part of the Biden Foundation work. We knew that when the history books are written, we want to be on the side of equality. And let me tell you, it's been a real privilege for us to get to work with you. The courage, tenacity, and resilience of you, our brothers and sisters, is inspiring. Joe and I feel incredibly lucky to call ourselves your allies.

Some of you may have read Garth Greenwell’s novel What Belongs To You, about the loneliness and struggle of closeted desire. In it, Greenwell wrote, “love isn't just a matter of looking at someone but also looking with them, of facing what they face. All of us deserve someone at our side facing life with us” – so that's why I’m proud to introduce the man who's been at my side, an ally and champion for equality. A man whose life purpose stems from the profound commitment to civil rights. A man who always speaks from the heart. Please join me, in welcoming, my husband, Joe Biden.

Biden, J. [Human Rights Campaign]. (2018, September 15). Joe Biden and Jill Biden Speak at the 2018 HRC National Dinner [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsSx1y8NXds]. Retrieved on April 11, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHZeKyjqpK9diTD1g4yDl5g.