LOS ANGELES (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden called on Congress Saturday to pass a measure to outlaw workplace discrimination against gays, saying it's outrageous that the country is even debating the subject.
Speaking to supporters of the gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign on Saturday, 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.