October is recognized as LGBT history month. October 12th marks 20 years since the death of Matthew Shepard, which prompted Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law on October 28th, 2009. But all of that is hard to fathom when Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual summit of the anti-gay Family Research Council.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council a hate group, giving Pence another first for this administration: He’s the first sitting vice president to speak at the anti-LGBT group’s summit. But once again he’s just a lap dog for Trump, who became the first sitting president to do so. Remember 2015, when the White House was lit with rainbow lights after marriage equality passed and Obama was the first sitting president to appear on the cover of an LGBT magazine when he sat for a portrait for Out’s annual Out100 issue and was proclaimed Ally of the Year?
“While Republicans have been delivering on a common-sense conservative agenda since 2016 — in case you didn’t notice —Democrats have fallen further to the left than ever before,” Pence told the audience, according to reports. Although he didn’t specifically address LGBT issues, Pence did take on abortion, trotting out familiar far-right tropes: “Today’s Democratic Party wants to raise your taxes. Today’s Democratic Party wants open borders and to abolish ICE. Today’s Democratic Party thinks Obamacare didn’t go far enough, and they’re now running actual socialists for higher office. Today’s Democratic Party wants abortion on demand, and they want you to pay for it.”
He wrapped up his speech by bloviating like the best Mother-may-I priest he seems to aspire to be: “Finally, let’s keep faith that he who has ever watched over this nation still governs in the affairs of men and that as we hold fast to him we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not grow faint and that he will yet bless America abundantly more than we could ask or imagine in this one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
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Pence’s conservative, anti-LGBT views are well-documented. While he was head of the Indiana Policy Review in the 1990s he published articles urging employers not to hire gay employees, writing: “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.” And as governor of Indiana, he signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which allowed companies to discriminate against LGBT employees and customers based on firmly held religious beliefs. Plus, he’s proposed cutting funding for HIV treatment and using the money for “gay cure” conversion therapy. This is not the man America needs representing us.