Vice President Mike Pence had to meet the gay son of Democrat Senator Doug Jones
The new Senator for Alabama Doug Jones brought his gay son to his swearing-in ceremony to meet Vice President Mike Pence.
Jones was sworn in yesterday as a US Senator after a surprise defeat for anti-LGBT Republican Roy Moore in the election last month.
The new Senator brought along his son Carson Jones to watch him be sworn in.
As the Vice President also serves as President of the Senate, he traditionally oversees the swearing-in of new members.
And that’s how Carson Jones, a gay man from Alabama, got to meet Mike Pence, a lifelong opponent of LGBT rights who has supported gay cure therapy.
Carson posted a picture of the moment his father was sworn in to Instagram – and people couldn’t help but notice the mutual glare between him and Vice President Pence.
He wrote: “#dougjones #swearingin #washingtondc #capitol #wemadeit #nocaptionneeded”.
One viral response joked: “Photo of the decade: Doug Jones being sworn in, while his openly gay son QUIETLY DISINTEGRATES THE SOUL OF MIKE PENCE.”
Another added: “Doug Jones’ gay son looked at Mike Pence the way every queer person looks at straight couples making out in public”.
There are plenty of reasons for Carson to glare at Pence.
A hardline evangelical who has not supported a single LGBT reform across nearly two decades in politics, VP Pence has one of the worst records on equality of any President or Vice President in recent memory.
Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.
On a 2000 Congressional campaign website, he 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.”
While serving as Governor of Indiana, Pence stirred up international outrage in 2015 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.”
He appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality.
In a clip, Pence was asked: “Yes or no: do you believe gay and transgender people should be able to be fired from their jobs just for that reason only?”
After an awkward ten-second silence, Pence attempted to stall, responding: “It’s a great privilege to be your Governor.”
Fudging a response, he said: “My position as I expressed in the state of the State address is that we are a state with a constitution, and as you know… that constitution has very strong safeguards for freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.”
During the Presidential campaign, Pence backed 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”.
He said: “This is such an example of an administration that seems to have… there’s no area of our lives too small for them to want to regulate, no aspect of our constitution too large for them to ignore.
“Donald Trump and I both believe these questions can be resolved with common sense at the local level.”
“These issues are resolved in the state of Indiana whenever they come up, and they should be resolved, for the safety and well-being of our children first and foremost, their privacy and rights, and with common sense. Donald Trump and I simply believe all of these issues are best resolved at the state level, by communities.”
He added: “Washington has no business intruding on the operation of our local schools. It’s just one more example of the heavy hand of this administration, and Donald Trump and I will stand by that common-sense people that when it comes to our kids, and the operation of our schools, those decisions should be made at the local level.
“Washington DC has no business imposing its bill and its values on communities around the nation.”
Decades of proof have not stopped Pence from attempting to rewrite his deeply anti-LGBT record, however.
LGBT activists have celebrated Jones’ swearing in.
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “Thanks to hundreds of thousands of fair-minded Alabamians who rejected the politics of hate and fear, we have one more vote for equality and justice in the U.S. Senate today.
“We look forward to working closely with Senator Jones to advance LGBTQ equality.
“Let his victory in one of the reddest of states be a lesson to politicians everywhere: if you come after our rights and attack our families, we will organize, mobilize and come after you on Election Day.”