Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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EDITORIAL:

Is Pence in favor of religious freedom or simply opposed to LGBT equality?

Amid the recent back-and-forth between Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and Vice President Mike Pence, conservative media sided with Pence by saying there was no proof that he was anti-LGBT. Rather, commentators said, he is a Christian who believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

In response, today we present some of Pence’s more prominent statements and actions regarding LGBT issues.

Decide for yourself whether this man is bigoted against homosexuals.

• 1990s: The Indiana Policy Review, a libertarian think-tank that Pence leads, publishes journal articles in which it says homosexuals are not fit to serve in the military and, as reported by Esquire, that gay journalists “could not remain unbiased because of the ‘pathological’ nature of their ‘gaydom.’ ”

An excerpt from a journal entry: “Homosexuals are not as a group able bodied. They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”

• 2000: In discussions over the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act, which provides outpatient care and support services to individuals and families affected by AIDS, Pence (now a member of the U.S. House) advocates withholding federal dollars from any organization not providing “assistance to those looking to change their sexual behavior.” He further says he’ll support the reauthorization only if it includes organizations that encourage or “celebrate” behavior conducive to the spread of the disease.

• 2006: Pence, speaking on the House floor in support of the Marriage Protection Act, says same-sex marriage would lead to “deterioration of the family” and later to complete “societal collapse.” He further says homosexuality is a matter of choice and that preventing same-sex marriage is not discrimination but rather is carrying out “God’s idea.”

• 2007: Pence votes against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was aimed at barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

• 2010: Pence votes against repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

• 2014: As Indiana governor, Pence supports a resolution to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state’s constitution.

• 2015: Pence signs the state’s highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act behind closed doors in a ceremony attended by special interest lobbyists. LGBT advocates say the legislation will allow Indiana businesses to deny services to them based on sexual orientation. They also say it will drive businesses away from the state.

• 2015: Pence initially defends the RFRA. But in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, he’s asked six times whether the law would allow businesses to discriminate against gay couples and ducks the question all six times. After withering criticism from Democrats and moderate Republicans, and a public relations crisis for the state, Pence eventually supports a “fix” that expressly bars business owners from discriminating. He absorbs criticism from the right wing.

• 2016: Pence opposes a directive from the federal government to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. “The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature,” he says.

• 2018: Pence presents a speech at an annual conference hosted by the Christian activist group Family Research Council, which is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “anti-LBGT hate group.”