Responding to remarks Vice President Joe Biden made Tuesday highlighting transgender rights as important, Director of the National Center for Trans Equality Mara Keisling was impressed that the vice president vocalized his support but remembered that civil rights are important for everyone.

According to Huffington Post, the vice president huddled with a woman volunteer for a moment in the Obama/Biden 2012 office in Sarasota, Florida, emerging from the tête-à-tête by assuring the woman that he believes that transgender rights are "the civil rights issue of our time."

The woman volunteer was Linda Carragher Bourne of Sarasota, who told reporters that she had confided to Biden that her daughter is the current Miss Transgender New England.  Bourne said after the exchange with the vice president, "A lot of my friends are being killed and they don't have civil rights yet.  These guys are gonna make it happen."

Keisling described Biden's pronouncement "exciting," but underscored the fact that both Biden and President Barack Obama have been openly supportive of LGBT people.

"The vice president and the president have always been people who care about people's civil rights," she said, "and fought really hard for civil rights for a lot of people, so it's not really surprising at all.  Still, it feels really great."

What's important to Keisling, however, particularly with the election looming, is that everyone in the U.S. should know that their civil rights are at stake, not just transgender people.

"I just want to note," she said, "that right now, civil rights is the civil rights issue of our time.  Our civil rights are really under siege for lots of different kinds of people.  For the people who are black or who are immigrants or are Latino, senior citizens and for regular old people.  There are forces that really want to undermine individual rights and civil rights, whether it's in the name of profits or the interests of wealthy people and corporations."

"Obviously, I think think trans civil rights are really important," she concluded, "but that's also true of other civil rights struggles right now and I don't want to undermine those."

(image of VP Joe Biden via Flickr Commons)