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Transcript: Biden commemorates lives of Dallas officers killed

In this week’s address from the White House, Vice President Joe Biden commemorates the lives of the five police officers who were killed and the seven people who were wounded in Dallas.

The police officers were providing safety to those who were peacefully marching against racial injustices in the criminal justice system — and the shocking images of the lives lost in St. Paul and Baton Rouge.

Echoing the remarks of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Police Chief David Brown, the vice president called on the American people to act with unity and to stop the violence. He emphasized that it is the responsibility of everyone to speak out against disparities within the criminal justice system, just as much as it is the responsibility of everyone to stand up for the police who protect us every day.

The audio of the address and video of the address is online at www.whitehouse.gov.

The following is a transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery in the weekly address on July 9:

Although I didn’t know the five police officers who were killed, or the seven who were wounded in Dallas this week – I knew them.

They were the folks I grew up with: The boy with the most courage and the most compassion; the man with a brave heart and a generous soul, whose words were always encouraging; the son who made his mother proud every time he turned and smiled at her; and the friend who you could always count on. Being a cop wasn’t just what they did. It was who they were-like every officer who joined for essentially the same reason. There was something about them that made them think they could help, that they should serve, that they had a duty.

So when an assassin’s bullet targeted the police force in Dallas, it touched the soul of the nation. Those killed and wounded were protecting the safety of those who were peacefully protesting against racial injustices in the criminal justice system. Those who were marching against the kind of shocking images we saw in St. Paul and Baton Rouge-and have seen too often elsewhere-of too many black lives lost.

I believe the Dallas Police Department is one of the finest in the nation-and this incredibly diverse city can bridge any divide. To paraphrase Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, let us use our words carefully. Let us act with unity, not division. As Dallas Police Chief David Brown-one of the leading chiefs in America-said, “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city, all I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

As Americans, we are wounded by all of these deaths. It’s on all of us to stand up, to speak out about disparities in our criminal justice system-just as it’s on all of us to stand up for the police who protect us in our communities every day. In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue offering our thoughts and prayers to provide comfort to the broken-hearted families. But they will only be redeemed by the courage of our actions that honor their memories.

So while we’re being tested, we can’t be pulled apart. We are America, with bonds that hold us together. We endure, we persevere, we overcome, we stand together.

Biden calls on Congress to pass ENDA

Vice President Joe Biden called on Congress on March 22 to pass a measure to outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, saying it’s outrageous that the country is even debating the subject.

Speaking to supporters of a Human Rights Campaign dinner, Biden said it’s “close to barbaric” that in some states, employees can be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Imagine 20 years from now as America looked back and say ‘How in the hell can that ever been allowed?’ The country’s moved on, the American people have moved on,” he said.

He said it was time for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — known as ENDA — which would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion. Religious institutions and the military would be exempted.

Biden also criticized Russia’s ban on so-called gay “propaganda” and its military actions in Ukrainian territory.

“The great anti-Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said, `A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbor.’ And we’re seeing that today in Ukraine,” Biden said.

Shutdown prompts Biden to cancel speech to gay rights group

Vice President Joe Biden’s office announced on Oct. 3 that he was canceling a speech to the nation’s largest gay civil rights group that was scheduled for this weekend.

Biden was set to deliver the keynote address to about 3,400 people at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner on Oct. 5.

But the partial shutdown of the federal government has led President Barack Obama and now Biden to cancel a number of events.

Obama canceled an appearance at a glitzy Congressional Hispanic Caucus event on Oct. 2 and scaled back an upcoming trip to Asia.

Presidential inaugural schedule of events

The second inaugural of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden begins on Jan. 19 and continues through Jan. 22.

“This Inauguration is about bringing Americans together to celebrate our shared purpose,” said David Cusack, executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “The schedule of official public events will allow Americans across the country to participate in the celebration.”

The schedule includes:

Jan. 19

9:30 a.m. EST.: National Day of Service Summit on the National Mall, where the first and second families will gather to issue a call to action for all Americans to join in service and honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

6 p.m.: 
Kids’ Inaugural Concert at the Washington Convention Center
 with first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden hosting.

Jan. 20

11:55 a.m.: An official swearing-In for Biden and Obama at the White House, in the Blue Room. Inauguration Day is traditionally on Jan. 20, but inaugural ceremonies are not usually held on Sundays because courts and other government officers are not open. So the official swearing-in will take place Jan. 20 but the celebratory swearing-in is Jan. 21.

Jan. 21

11:30 a.m. — Ceremonial swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill.

2:30 p.m. — The inaugural parade from the Capitol to the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue, with the first and second families and 58 groups.

7 p.m. — The Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Jan. 22

10:30 a.m. — National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral.