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Republicans officially adopt Mike Pence for a second term as vice president – and people can’t wait for Kamala Harris to tear him apart

Nick Duffy August 24, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Mike Pence has been officially adopted as Donald Trump’s Republican running mate in 2020, with Republicans giving unanimous support.

The former Indiana governor, who has an abysmal record on LGBT+ rights both before and during his vice presidency, was reaffirmed as Trump’s running mate at the Republican National Convention on Monday after early speculation that he could be dropped from the ticket in favour of Nikki Haley proved false.

The 336 delegates voted by acclimation to re-adopt Pence as vice presidential nominee, ahead of Trump’s renomination, with a standing ovation as it was passed.

The confirmation sets up a hotly-anticipated clash between Pence and Democratic firebrand Kamala Harris, a strong advocate of LGBT+ rights.

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were all smiles at the first public appearance together as running mates (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post/Getty)

Supporters are keen to see take Harris take Pence to task on his record in a way that the Democrats’ offensively inoffensive 2016 VP candidate Tim Kaine failed to do even once during his one-on-one debate with Pence.

Harris and Pence will debate on 7 October, in case you want to place some bulk popcorn orders ahead of time.

In response to the Supreme Court’s affirmation of LGBT+ discrimination protections in June, Pence vowed to stack the courts with even more conservatives if Trump is re-elected for a second term.

He said: “Joe Biden is making plans to appoint activist judges who will legislate from the bench, but next week, president Trump will appoint his 200th judge to our federal courts, all conservative jurists who are upholding the God-given liberties enshrined in our constitution, like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.

“With four more years, this president will appoint even more judges. And like we learned this past week, we need more conservative justices on the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Mike Pence is a lifelong fierce opponent of LGBT+ rights.

Pence’s anti-LGBT beliefs have persisted throughout much of his career – sitting at the core of his ideology and politics long before he entered the national spotlight as Trump’s running mate in 2016.

As the head of the right-wing Indiana Policy Review Foundation think tank in the 1990s, Pence opposed efforts to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Clippings unearthed by CNN’s KFile revealed that Pence claimed that homosexuality was “a choice”, as he fought against efforts to protect gay people from discrimination.

He explained: “The great vast majority of the psychological community says homosexuality at a very minimum is a choice by the individual, and at the maximum, is a learned behaviour.”

Early in his career, Pence ran anti-LGBT groups
Early in his career, Mike Pence ran anti-LGBT groups (Jeff Wolfram/Roll Call/Getty)

While Pence was in charge of the Indiana Policy Review, the group attacked a job fair for gay journalists, claiming that they cannot be trusted because “gaydom” is a “pathological condition”.

The group also hit out at gay people serving in the army, claiming: “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.”

Pence also served on the board of the Indiana Family Institute, an anti-LGBT+ lobbying group.

His first bid for office featured a gay ‘cure’ pledge

In 2000, Pence published an election manifesto calling for HIV/AIDS prevention funding to be drained from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus,” an apparent reference to LGBT+ inclusive groups.

Pence instead called for funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” which was long interpreted as an endorsement of the practice of gay ‘cure’ therapy.

Pence pledged to gut HIV funding in favour of conversion therapy
Mike Pence pledged to gut HIV funding in favour of conversion therapy (Robert A. Reeder/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Pence now denies he advocated conversion therapy, with spokespeople describing the suggestion as “patently false” and claiming he was simply interested in promoting safe sex.

However, he did little to correct the public interpretation of his words until he became vice president.

In Congress he led attacks on LGBT+ equality.

In Congress, Pence repeatedly opposed LGBT+ discrimination protections.

Serving in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, Pence repeatedly voted to reject hate crime laws and discrimination protections for LGBT+ people, and co-authored a bill attempting to amend the US Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Explaining why he opposed discrimination protections, Pence told Congress: “If an employee keeps a Bible in his or her cubicle, if an employee displays a Bible verse on their desk, that employee could be claimed by a homosexual colleague to be creating a hostile work environment.”

Rep. Mike Pence stands behind anti-LGBT hate group leader Tony Perkins as they seek a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage
Rep. Mike Pence (far left) stands behind anti-LGBT hate group leader Tony Perkins as they seek a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage (Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

He also strongly opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which banned gay people from openly serving in the armed forces.

Speaking in 2010, he said: “I believe the American people don’t want to see the American military used to advance a liberal political agenda, especially when the men and women who serve in our military haven’t had a say in the matter.

“There is no question that to mainstream homosexuality within the active duty military would have an impact on unit cohesion, an impact on readiness.

As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence pushed an anti-LGBT+ law.

Pence’s term as governor of Indiana, from 2013 to 2017, was dominated by controversy over his ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, which allowed religious people and businesses to cite their conscience as a defence in legal disputes.

The passage of the law, which went far beyond legal protections in other states, led to a nationwide boycott of Indiana and a spate of lawsuits from LGBT+ groups.

Pence appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality.

In a 2016 interview, 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 responded: “It’s a great privilege to be your Governor.”

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana faced national scrutiny for his anti-LGBT stances
Governor Mike Pence of Indiana faced national scrutiny for his anti-LGBT stances (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty)

As governor, Pence also attempted to reinforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage with a 2013 law that made it a felony to “knowingly solemnise a marriage of individuals who are prohibited from marrying”.

He also imposed cuts to HIV testing and a ban on needle exchanges, leading to the worst outbreak of HIV/AIDS in Indiana’s history, sparking an intervention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the White House, he has quietly spearheaded efforts to roll back LGBT+ rights protections.

A 2018 report revealed that Pence has played a pivotal role in actions taken by the Trump administration to dismantle civil rights protections for LGBT+ people.

The report alleged that Pence was behind a divisive executive order that aimed to legalise forms of religious discrimination against LGBT+ people.

The VP has played a quiet role in many of the Trump administration's anti-LGBT policies
Mike Pence has played a quiet role in many of the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Pence has openly voiced support for the Trump administration’s decision to bar US embassies flying from rainbow flags, making clear: “It’s the right decision. I support that.”

The vice president maintains close ties to anti-LGBT+ hate groups, and has hit back at “attacks” on his wife, Karen Pence, for teaching at a school that discriminates against gay children.

More: Donald Trump, kamala harris, Mike Pence, presidential election 2020, Republican National Convention

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