During a meeting with a legal scholar, President Trump, VP Pence, and the scholar started talking about gay rights. Trump pointed to Pence and said, “Don’t ask that guy – he wants to hang them all!”
There’s a lot that’s disturbing about this statement. Joking about the deaths of LGBT people – a group that’s been experiencing record numbers of violence – is yet another example of Trump’s total disregard for the issue. The other thing that’s disturbing is that it proves Pence has not budged on his defining quality – hostility towards the LGBT community.
In 2006, Pence supported a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and woman. He didn’t stop there however, but said that being gay was a choice and accepting it into society would lead to its collapse.
Just a year later, he opposed a law that would make discriminating against LGBT people in the workplace illegal. Apparently, not being allowed to fire people because you don’t agree with their sexual identity “wages war on freedom and religion.”
In 2010, Pence wanted to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which forced military personnel from identifying opening as gay. His reasoning? He didn’t want the military to be a “backdrop for social experimentation.” That’s a really confusing reason because it isn’t like there haven’t been gay people in the military. How is letting soldiers be open and honest about their lives back home an “experiment?”
In 2015, Pence made his name known nationwide when he signed a bill that would let Indiana businesses use their religion to refuse service to LGBT customers. I’ve heard conservatives talk a lot about “slippery slopes” when it comes to issues like gun control, but letting business owners refuse service because of a customer’s sexual identity is EXTREMELY slippery. It’s also just plain ol’ discrimination. To Pence, it might make sense because he thinks being gay is a choice, but he’s wrong, and you don’t get to make laws based on lies. That’s a slippery slope.
The most troubling thing about Pence, in my opinion, is his support for conversion therapy. He hasn’t been outspoken about it, because he knows it’s controversial, but when he was running for Congress, he suggested that federal money that was being used to research HIV/AIDS would be better diverted to “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Um, what? That would be “conversion therapy,” which is derided by the American Psychological Association and has a long history of misconduct, including lobotomies, electroshock, testicle transplants, castration, female circumcision, drugs, and verbal abuse. While methods have changed, the goal is the same: convince someone their sexual orientation is wrong and needs to be “straightened out.”
Conversion therapy is banned in a handful of states, but it’s not banned on a federal level. I heard someone say that being gay was “protected and celebrated” in America, like it was a bad thing, and I had to laugh. What groups are ones that need to be protected? Ones that are in danger. And what are some reasons to celebrate being gay? When it’s been stomped down for decades and told it’s destroying society, perhaps? A celebration is simply telling a person, “You’re not bad. There’s nothing wrong with you. We love you.”
Pence wants a world where every LGBT person believes there’s something inherently wrong with them; that because of the evil in their souls, they’ve “chosen” a dark path and need to be “converted.” He ignores every personal story and every sound piece of medical research on the subject, and instead chooses to uphold outdated and hateful misconceptions on what sexual orientation is, and what life is actually like for LGBT people.
Pence may be quiet, but he’s dangerous. And unlike Trump, Pence has a lot of people on his side.