Mike Pence’s heinous record of homophobia and rolling back LGBT+ rights goes completely unchecked during debate

Patrick Kelleher October 8, 2020
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Mike Pence Kamala Harris vice-presidential debate

Mike Pence and Kamala Harris took part in the first and only vice-presidential debate (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty)

Mike Pence’s appalling record on LGBT+ rights and his staunchly homophobic views were not raised once during the first and only vice-presidential debate of this election cycle.

The debate, which went ahead Wednesday night (October 7) in Salt Lake City, Utah, saw Trump’s vice-president face off against Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate.

In the wide-ranging debate, the candidates discussed the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans. They also touched on racism, the killing of Breonna Taylor, and the climate crisis.

But LGBT+ rights were not mentioned once. In fact, a fly that has since gone viral after it landed on Pence’s head for roughly two minutes got more air-time than queer lives.

Advocacy organisation GLAAD criticised the debate, noting that it was the fourth consecutive nationally-televised forum for the general election that failed to include LGBT+ issues.

The group hit out at moderators for failing to take Pence to task on his homophobic views, as well as his role in the Trump administration, which has repeatedly attacked the LGBT+ community and consistently rolled back rights.

Mike Pence should have been called to account for his role in the administration’s 181 attacks against the LGBTQ community.

“This is the fourth missed chance in a nationally-televised forum of the general election to address any LGBTQ issues,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

“Vice president Mike Pence should have been called to account for his role in the administration’s 181 attacks against the LGBTQ community,” she added.

“LGBTQ voters may cast the deciding votes in this election and we need to be a part of the conversation. The moderators must include us. The candidates must acknowledge us. LGBTQ people deserve to know where the candidates stand on issues of life and death to us. We will continue to demand to be seen and heard.”

The LGBT+ issues Mike Pence should have been grilled on.

Ahead of the debate, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) published a list of five pressing questions the vice-presidential candidates should have been asked at the debate.

The LGBT+ rights organisation had urged moderator Susan Page to grill the candidates on transgender rights, noting that more than 30 trans and gender non-conforming people have been violently killed in the United States so far this year.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said it is essential that LGBT+ voters know what candidates’ plans are to curb anti-trans violence.

They also said candidates should be asked whether they believe in marriage equality – although it is not hard to figure out what Pence’s stance on this question is.

Furthermore, the organisation asked that candidates be grilled on HIV treatment, Trump’s anti-LGBT+ record, and their commitment to passing pro-equality laws.

But moderators did not ask Pence or Harris any of these questions, leaving LGBT+ voters in the dark ahead of election day.

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