President Donald Trump is oblivious to a lot of things — but on his vice president, even he can see that Mike Pence is a far-right-wing ideologue.
While in a White House meeting with a legal scholar familiar with socially conservative politics, Trump took the time to belittle Pence’s far-right viewpoints on at least two occasions, The New Yorker reported this week.
For example, on the issue of abortion, the scholar explained that, even if Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, several states would still allow abortion to continue. Trump turned to address Pence on that point.
“You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway,” he reportedly said.
But on the issue of LGBTQ rights, Trump addressed a darker view he suggested Pence held.
“Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all,” Trump said.
The statement by Trump, which was intended as a joke, goes too far, but Pence’s stance on gays, lesbians, and other non-straight individuals is perceptibly farther to the right than Trump himself — and what mainstream America now finds as accepting.
In 2000, for instance, Pence advocated using federal dollars to promote so-called “conversion therapy.” The practice promises participants that it can “convert” them from being gay to heterosexual, but it has questionable outcomes, including causing great psychological damage.
Indeed, the Human Rights Campaign points out that there is “clear evidence that conversion therapy does not work, and some significant evidence that it is also harmful to LGBTQ people.”
Pence didn’t stop there. In 2006, arguing against marriage equality on the House floor, Pence stated that, “throughout history, societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”
Of course, allowing heads of households to marry one another in many ways strengthens the bonds of families, and arguments favoring marriage equality often stressed that point. One study even discovered children of same-sex couples were happier than their straight-family counterparts.
Pence took another shot against the equality movement when, in 2015 as governor of the state of Indiana, he infamously signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law, allowing businesses in the state to discriminate against the LGBTQ community for religious reasons. The law led to an enormous nation-wide boycott of the state, resulting in Pence and other lawmakers passing a subsequent measure to “fix” their mistakes.
Trump’s crude joke at the expense of Pence’s views was inappropriate for many reasons.
For starters, hate crimes against the LGBTQ community have, in the past (and still today), resulted in deaths and other acts of harm toward individuals who were simply exercising their rights to be who they want to be.
It was insensitive of the president to make that remark, especially in light of those who do die as a result of hate.
Trump’s comments also incorrectly allege that Pence would like to see members of this community die, a statement he has never voiced publicly and would likely reject.
Yet Pence isn’t innocent in his views, either. He has a long, sordid history of using his positions of power to reject the LGBTQ community, and to do whatever he can to obstruct their own pursuits of happiness.
Trump’s joke went too far, but the sentiment it projects about Pence — that he stands ideologically opposed to the freedoms and rights of LGBTQ individuals — cannot be denied.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Jonathan Ernst