Mike Pence attempts to rewrite history with claim he never supported gay ‘cure’ therapy
After five months of refusing to comment on his past support for gay ‘cure’ therapy, Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s is now insisting he never supported the practice.
Since his selection as Donald Trump’s running mate, it has been widely reported that Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.
On a 2000 Congressional campaign website, Pence wrote: “Congress should support the reauthorization of the [HIV funding] Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”
Pence has never walked back the claim, and for the past five months has repeatedly declined requests to disavow the comments or clarify his point of view.
However, after five months of stony silence, the Vice President tried to deny the claim via his spokesperson in a statement to the New York Times.
Pence’s spokesperson claimed it was “patently false” that Mr. Pence “supported or advocated” the practice.
Although Pence’s website directly calls for therapy to “change their sexual behaviour”, the spokesperson claimed he had simply been calling for federal funds to “be directed to groups that promoted safe sexual practices”.
The Act in question already does provide funding to groups that promoted safe sexual practices, so it is unclear how exactly Pence could have possibly been suggesting that.
It is also unclear why Pence has not sought to “correct” the record at any point since his nomination as Trump’s VP, given his people now suddenly insist his comments were “mischaracterised”.
Earlier this year, Pence’s evangelical voting bloc helped add a plank to the Republican platform opposing a ban on gay cure therapy on ‘religious freedom’ grounds. His spokesperson did not address this to the NYT.
Of course, the former Governor of Indiana has a much longer anti-LGBT record.
Pence, who has been influential in packing the Trump administration with anti-LGBT conservatives, recently confirmed plans to roll back Barack Obama’s executive protections on LGBT rights, so that “the transgender bathroom issue can be resolved with common sense at the local level”.
Earlier this year appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality.
The Governor of Indiana stirred up international outrage last year when he signed Indiana’s controversial ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, giving businesses the right to discriminate against gay people on the grounds of religion.
Pence claimed the law was intended to “protect” organisations from having to provide services for same-sex weddings, saying: “I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier [Indiana citizen] of every faith.
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack.”
An investigation also found that Pence approved extreme anti-LGBT articles when he was the head of the Indiana Policy Review journal in the 1990s.
In an item published under his editorial tenure in the December 1993 issue, Pence’s journal criticised The Wall Street Journal for taking part in a job fair for gay journalists – suggesting that “gaydom” was a “pathological condition”, and arguing that gay journalists would be biased in their coverage because of their sexuality.
It claimed: “The more extreme of the gay movement consider themselves members of a sexual determined political party.”
Another edition published in 1993 attacked Bill Clinton for reforms to permit closeted gay people to serve in the army.
It claimed: “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.”