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Six reasons why Mike Pence is awful for queer people

Pence was no fan of President Obama’s decision to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell."
Photo credit:
Chris Keane / Reuters via Huffington Post Queer Vocies

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump surprised absolutely no one when he formally announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate Friday. 

Though Trump’s few nods to the LGBT community during his campaign have widely been interpreted as relatively moderate, the presumptive GOP nominee’s choice of Pence, a former Congressman who once implied that the “deterioration of marriage and family” signaled “societal collapse,” suggests that his administration’s stance on queer issues could be more conservative than initially believed. 

That, of course, would contradict The New York Times’ description of Trump as “far more accepting” on LGBT issues than other GOP leaders.

Famous backers like transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner, who dropped by Trump Tower to use the ladies’ room this spring, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is gay, will have to try harder to justify their support.

That’s not even taking Pence’s opposition to women’s rights into account, either. 

Below, here are 6 reasons why Pence will be terrible for queer people if he and Trump are elected. 

1. He has supported LGBT discrimination under the banner of “religious freedom.”

In March 2015, Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or RFRA) into law, effectively legalizing discrimination against LGBT people across the state.

The bill, which Vox called “one of the biggest political crises“ of Pence’s career, allowed business owners to cite their religious beliefs as justification for turning away LGBT customers.  

The bill’s passage sparked national controversy, and in the end, was reported to have set the state back $250 million.

In a move that many saw as bowing to public pressure, Pence signed a revised version of the bill into law in April 2015 that included language that explicitly barred businesses from denying services to customers on the basis of categories that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Many LGBT rights advocates remained critical of the revisions, saying that Indiana should have repealed the measure altogether.

2. He REALLY opposes same-sex marriage.

Pence has long been an outspoken opponent of marriage equality, and in floor speeches during his time in Congress, described marriage as being “ordained by God.” 

Of the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that granted same-sex couples the right to tie the knot nationwide, he reportedly said that he said he was disappointed that SCOTUS had “failed to recognize the historic role of the states in setting marriage policy,” but nonetheless noted that he believed “in the rule of law.”

3. He’s opposed hate crime protections for LGBT people.

In 2009, Pence was an outspoken opponent of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which officially expanded federal hate crime legislation to include violence directed at members of the LGBT community.  

At the time, Pence blasted President Barack Obama for using the measure to “advance a radical social agenda,” according to USA Today, and argued that the law could be used to curb free speech rights.

4. He didn’t want “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed.

Pence was no fan of President Obama’s decision to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which banned gay and lesbian people from serving in the armed forces.

In 2010 he told CNN he did not want to see the military become “a backdrop for social experimentation,” and said, “We ought to put their interests and the interests of our national security first.”

5. He opposed Obama’s 2016 transgender bathroom directive.

In May, Pence spoke out against the Obama administration’s directiveadvising public schools to allow trans students to use the bathroom that best corresponds with their gender identity or risk losing federal funding. 

“The federal government has not business getting involved in issues of this nature,”Pence said.

6. His stance on HIV/AIDS prevention is questionable at best.

In 2000, Pence suggested that money from a program to help those with HIV/AIDS should be repurposed toward organizations that “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” BuzzFeed reports

He’s also suggested that needle exchange programs, which can be used to help prevent the spread of HIV, encouraged drug use.  

Last year, Pence reluctantly allowed for a short-term needle exchange program to be put into place in Indiana following a spike in HIV infections across the state.  

“I do not enter into this lightly,” he told The Indianapolis Star. “In response to a public health emergency, I’m prepared to make an exception to my long-standing opposition to needle exchange programs.”