Joe Biden's Growing Up Years:
Senator Joe Biden was born in 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to Joe and Jean Biden. The was the oldest of four children in his family.
At the age of 9, the Bidens moved to Claymont, Delaware. His father, Joe Sr., was a car salesman. Joe was a bright student and attended and graduated from the Archmere Academy in Clayton, a Roman Catholic prep school. He attended the University of Delaware where he doubled majored in history and political science. He then received his law degree from Syracuse University and returned to Delaware to practice law.
He was particularly close to his father growing up, and has tried to emulate that relationship with his own children. In his 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech, he quoted his father's feeling about fatherhood. "A father knows he's a success when he turns and looks at his son or daughter and know that they turned out better than he did."
He shared his father's counsel about persistence in that speech. "My dad -- my dad, who fell on hard times, always told me, though, 'Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.' I was taught -- I was taught that by my dad. And, God, I wish my dad was here tonight."
Biden's Own Family:
In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi Christina ("Amy"). Neilia and baby Amy died in a car accident just before he was sworn in as a US Senator in 1973. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside.
Joe considered resigning from the Senate to care for his family as a single parent, stating that "Delaware could always get another Senator, but his boys could not get another dad." He was persuaded by Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humprhey, among others, to stay. At that time, Biden began commuting an hour and a half each day on Amtrak from his home in Delaware to Washington, D.C.
In 1977, four years after he lost his wife, he married Jill Jacobs. Together, they have a daughter, Ashley.
Biden on Fatherhood:
Joe Biden proudly takes responsibility for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). While certainly no one is opposed to protecting women from violence, VAWA is seen by many in the fathers rights movement as being so far in the extreme against fathers as to be a net negative. Under VAWA, a judge can issue a restraining order because a woman “fears” her husband, without regard to whether her husband has actually ever threatened or behaved badly.
This provision has been used many times to give a woman what may be an unfair advantage in divorce or custody proceedings, and many fathers without any history of violence have in essence lost their rights in these cases without due process.
Biden on Family Issues:
Joe Biden is a co-sponsor of the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with more than 15 employees to offer seven paid sick days a year. In the 1990s, he supported the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a family member.
Biden has campaigned for paid family medical leave and supports funding for the Boys and Girls Clubs in underprivileged areas.
He voted against restrictions on violent video broadcasts during child television-viewing hours. The Christian Coalition has given Biden a rating of 16% on family issues, the Family Research Council has given him a rating of 0%, and the Children’s Defense Fund has given him a rating of 100%.
Joe Biden opposes gay marriage but supports civil domestic unions.