A new report holds Vice President Mike Pence to account for his anti-LGBT record in office.
The Human Rights Campaign this week launched a project publicising the record of Pence, who has been linked to a string of anti-LGBT actions taken by the Trump administration.
The report, titled “The Real Mike Pence,” shines a light on how Pence has flown under the radar in the Trump White House and begun “exploiting that alarming leadership void by quietly spearheading a charge to radically undermine the rights of LGBTQ people.”
The report looks in-depth at Pence’s record on LGBT rights as a candidate, as Governor of Indiana, and as Vice President – demonstrating a consistent approach to dismantling discrimination protections.
It recaps his alleged support for gay ‘cure’ therapy, his unwillingness to condemn businesses who fire people for being gay, and his signing of a controversial Indiana law that gave businesses the right to discriminate against gay people on the grounds of religion.
But it also delves into his less-explored actions since President Donald Trump came to power, adding: “Shortly after taking office as vice president, it became clear that the anti-LGBTQ work done by Mike Pence in Indiana was a trial run for an attempt to inflict a license to discriminate on LGBTQ people throughout the United States.”
The report alleges that Pence was behind an executive order that aimed to legalise forms of religious discrimination against LGBT people.
After the first order was leaked to the media to a hostile reaction it was spiked, but a revised version of the order was quietly issued in May 2017.
It adds: “Pence and the team working on making the leaked executive order look innocuous to the American public appeared to have stumbled upon an effective ruse — punt the implementation of the leaked executive order wish list to the attorney general.
“Buried in Executive Order 13798, a provision instructed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to provide direction to all agencies on ‘interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law.’
“This direction allows for a fulfilment of the original vision that is less likely to receive the same media scrutiny as the original since it will almost certainly happen in a piecemeal fashion.
“Reflecting on the signed order, Pence said, ‘I had the great privilege to stand beside President Trump as he signed an executive order to help strengthen and restore that most fundamental right from the First Amendment of the Constitution, the freedom of religion.’
“In October, Sessions complied with the executive order by issuing a memo directing all federal agencies to implement it in an extremely broad manner.”
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It adds that ensuing regulations in the Department of Health and Human Services have effectively “prioritised individual providers’ beliefs over life-saving patient care.
“In practice, the broad reach of the rule could allow healthcare providers deny treatment for HIV and HIV prevention, hormone therapy treatment and transition related care, and fertility care for same-sex couples,
single women, or interfaith couples based on their own personal moral or religious belief.”
The report also notes Pence’s complicity in “significant cuts to domestic HIV and AIDS programs and over a billion dollars cut from funding for global HIV and AIDS programs.”
It adds: “Mike Pence has long advocated abstinence-only education as the solution to the prevention of HIV and AIDS and asserted his belief that condoms are ineffective protection against sexually-transmitted diseases.”
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “Mike Pence has made a career out of attacking the rights and equal dignity of LGBTQ people, women and other marginalised communities. Now as vice president, he poses one of the greatest threats to equality in the history of our movement.
“With the world distracted by Donald Trump’s scandal-ridden White House, Mike Pence’s nefarious agenda has been allowed to fly under the radar for too long. He has become not only the most powerful vice president in American history, but also the least scrutinised. No more.
“With this comprehensive new report, HRC is exposing the extent of Pence’s extremism, the threat he poses to equality, and all that we’re doing to combat his hateful agenda.”