Former Vice President Joe Biden is trying to capitalize off of a rift between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) supporters over a quasi-endorsement from comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan by announcing his unqualified support for “trangender equality” in a tweet.
“Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time,” Biden said on social media Saturday night. “There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.”
Biden did not elaborate on what he belives constitutes “transgender equality,” and what he considers “compromise” on the issue, nor did he mention either Sanders or Rogan by name, but the reference was clear to those progressives currently battling over whether Sanders was right to Rogan’s support on his own social media profiles.
The statement isn’t necessarily a departure for Biden who, back in April, mentioned that he would support the “Equality Act,” a Democrat-authored House bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights act to outlaw discrimination based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.” That bill is controversial, as it includes language designed to compel public schools to allow transgender individuals who identify as female (but who are biologically male) to compete against female athletes on female-only sports teams.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) one of the bill’s more prominent sponsors, made it clear that expanding “access” to transgender athletes is a key element of the bill, denying biological reality: “Many states have sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination laws, and all of them still have women’s sports. Arguments about transgender athletes participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity having competitive advantages have not been borne out.”
Asked about the bill back in June, Biden said that passing it would “be the first thing I ask to be done” as president. The bill, he added, “is long overdue, and will ensure LGBTQ Americans are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
But Biden isn’t bringing up transgender equality at random. Late last week, Sanders followers split in dramatic fashion over whether the Vermont Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender should have celebrated a quasi-endorsement from Joe Rogan.
“I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie… He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from,” Rogan said, responding to a question about who he planned to vote for in the Democratic primary on an episode of his podcast that aired Thursday.
The endorsement wasn’t absolute — Rogan has not said if he supports Sanders for president — but Sanders’ campaign lauded it anyway, retweeting the video from the campaign’s official Twitter account.
Progressives quickly rebelled, begging Sanders to delete the tweet and attacking the “controversial” podcaster over his “transphobic” views.
“Rogan’s vicious rhetoric has dehumanized transgender people by misgendering them and promoting misinformation,” Human Rights Campaign’s President Alphonso David fired back at the campaign. “It is disappointing that the Sanders campaign has accepted and promoted the endorsement. The Sanders campaign must reconsider this endorsement and the decision to publicize the views of someone who has consistently attacked and dehumanized marginalized people.”
Sanders’ team refused, saying in a statement made on Saturday that they believe in a “big tent,” which “requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs.”