Joe Biden hails Ireland as nation that ‘stands for equal rights’

US vice-president says Irish recognised truth that everyone is entitled to respect in vote

US vice-president Joe Biden has described Ireland as "a nation where the people resoundingly stand for equal rights" after the Irish people voted by a large majority for same-sex marriage last week.

Writing in an Op-Ed article, Mr Biden said that more than 1.2 million Irish voters “took a courageous stand for love and family when they overwhelmingly chose marriage equality”.

“They recognised the fundamental truth that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, and that there can be no justification for the denigration or persecution of anyone because of who they love or who they are,” he wrote.

Mr Biden noted how in 22 years Ireland had gone from a nation where being a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community was “against the law” to a nation of equal rights.


In just three years, the United States has gone from a country where six states recognised marriage equality to 37 states comprising 224 million Americans, he said.

“There is still work to be done,” he wrote in an article published in the ‘Advocate’, the ‘Washington Blade’ and ‘Irish Central’.

“There are still too many nations that deny people the right to be safe from violence and severe discrimination, and too many states here in America that allow a person to be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, transgeneder or bisexual.”

Same-sex marriage is not legal nationally in the US. Just three states, Washington, Maryland and Maine, have voted to legalise gay marriage by a popular vote, while in a fourth, Minnesota, the people voted down an amendment that would have defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Landmark cases

The US supreme court is expected to rule next month in two landmark cases that will decide on the legality of same-sex marriage bans in the remaining states where it is banned, cases that could open the door for same-sex marriage to be recognised across the country.

Mr Biden said that he believes that other countries will follow Ireland’s lead as people “want to do the right thing”.

“You should never underestimate the epiphanies that follow when a culture makes a breakthrough of conscience,” he said.

That change requires leadership and courageous individuals who are willing to “turn adversity into positive change,” he said.

"Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot but make it hot by striking," he said, quoting William Butler Yeats.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times