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Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenClinton reappears on Capitol Hill for Reid send-off Obama and Biden mourn death of John Glenn The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE on Saturday praised gay rights activists for the progress they have made in recent years.
The vice president gave the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, during which he honored past civil rights leaders and commended current ones for working to fulfill the principles embodied the Declaration of Independence.
“We become more of what America was meant to be,” Biden said. “All men created equal, all have a right to liberty, pursuit of happiness. We say it so often that it loses its meaning. The very fact that we finally recognize that love is not a political matter, it’s a basic human right — the fact that we’ve recognized that is because of you.”
The vice president, who is considering running for president, took a jab at Republican presidential candidates.
“There’s homophobes still left,” Biden said. “Most of them are running for president, I think.”
He also applauded notable gay figures such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, and Matthew Shepard, who was tortured and killed in anti-gay violence.
Biden also recognized actress Ellen Page, who was in attendance, for confronting Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at the Iowa State Fair in August over gay rights.
“By the way, Ellen, you won that debate at the Iowa State Fair,” he said. “You won that debate. There was a clear winner in Iowa.”
The vice president encouraged audience members to try to enact further societal change for those who identify as transgender.
He also made a call for gun reform legislation in the wake of a community college shooting in Oregon that left nine dead Thursday.
“If you’ll forgive me, there’s a basic human right that should concern us all,” Biden said. “I know it’s not the subject of this meeting, and that’s the freedom to be free of violence, whether at the hand of another person or at the bullet of a gun.”
A report Saturday indicated Biden will announce whether he is running for president in the next 7 to 10 days.
The vice president has been mulling whether he has the emotional strength to launch a bid for the White House after the death of his son, Beau Biden, in May.