Joe Biden Says People Thought He Was Gay For Supporting Women’s Rights

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Federation Labor Convention.
Joshua Lott / Getty Images

During a campaign event on Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said that he was accused of being a homosexual for supporting women’s rights, The New York Times reports.

During the town hall-like event in Hanover, New Hampshire, the White House hopeful discussed with the audience a number of pressing issues, from health care to political changes that have taken place in the country, taking some “unusual rhetorical detours,” as the NYT put it, along the way.

At one point, while discussing his own political awakening and younger days, Biden revealed that he had been accused of being a homosexual for supporting women’s rights. The 76-year-old — who ran successfully for the United States Senate at age 29 — discussed his support for women’s rights in the early 1970s, his support for the Equal Rights Amendment in particular.

The critics among his peers, Biden said, called him “gay” for supporting the amendment.

“He’s probably gay,” the critics would say, according to the former vice president.

“We finally were in a position where we started to begin the women’s movement, and began to treat women — I remember because I was such a big supporter of the E.R.A in 1972, quote — to show you how things have changed, thank God — ‘Well, you know why Biden is for the E.R.A., he’s probably gay.’ Not a joke.”

As the publication noted, Biden was comparing the changes that had taken place in the late 1960s and early 1970s to what is presently happening in the country.

Biden has not always supported women’s rights, however.

As Politico reported, the former vice president opposed late-term abortion for decades, even criticizing abortion bans for not going far enough. He also supported prohibitions of funding that promote reproductive health overseas, and backed legislation meant to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

The White House hopeful also fought to exempt religious groups from Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate but failed. Most recently, the former vice president flip-flopped on the Hyde Amendment — which he had supported for decades — alternating between opposing and supporting it.

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In June, CNBC predicted that Biden’s record on women’s rights would face scrutiny as the primary race heats up, pointing out that the former vice president has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate touching, and arguing that his handling of Anita Hill’s testimony during Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings could once again become a major issue.

Perceived vulnerabilities have not affected Biden’s performance in the polls. On the contrary, the former vice president remains the absolute frontrunner, leading the crowded Democratic primary field in almost every single poll, according to RealClearPolitics.