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No One Believes Mike Pence Is ‘Coming Around’ on LGBTQIA+ Issues

Mike Pence gestures and grimaces during a speech.

Mike Pence has joined the choir of irrelevant conservatives touring the country’s college campuses to yell at various clouds. On Tuesday, he gave a speech at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which was reportedly billed as “How to Save America From the Woke Left”—a speech he’s apparently given at a number of universities this year.

As MSNBC notes, that was a rather silly title given it was conservatives—not liberals—who called for Pence to be hanged during the January 6 riot for refusing to comply with their political demands, but … sure. From the sound of it, Pence’s speech was full of the typical culture war nonsense you’d expect, but one moment stood out. At one point, Pence, who built his political career on a foundation of deep homophobia, was asked by someone in the audience what he would do if his child came out as gay.

Here was Pence’s ridiculous response:

“I’d look him in the eye and say I love you. But let me say on this issue, if we got to know each other, you’d know the Pences love everybody. We treat everybody the way we want to be treated.”

That is, obviously, completely laughable (but like, the really dark, bleak, hating-everything kind of laugh). During his time as Indiana governor and while serving as Vice President, the only thing Pence proved to love more than anti-LGBTQIA legislation was banning abortion. And to be fair, he loved banning abortion so much that literally nothing ever had a chance to even compete.

But he really did love depriving gay and transgender people of their rights. The Human Rights Campaign called him “the worst vice president for LGBTQ people in modern history.” GLAAD has a list of more than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ offenses to be perpetrated or supported by Pence during his time in the White House. As governor, he signed bills so oppressive he had to do it in secret.

It is easy to say in a hypothetical scenario that he would “love” his child if they were gay. I fully do not believe that is the reaction Mike Pence would have in that scenario but even if it is—and that’s a big if—that is not the same as actually supporting and hopefully fighting for your child’s rights, from basic respect to legal rights and civil liberties. And it is definitely not the same thing as supporting the rights of LGBTQ+ people as an entire class of people.

The panel on The View discussed this moment earlier this week, and co-host Sunny Hostin put things well. Her colleague Alyssa Farah tried to give Pence the benefit of the doubt and said it sounded like he “might be coming around a little bit” on LGBTQ+ issues.


Here’s what Hostin said (via SecondNexus):

“I think he’s lying on that tape, and I think that words are meaningless when your actions say differently. … In 2000, [Pence] said during his congressional campaign that Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage. Let me continue. In 2004, Mike Pence co-sponsored a proposed amendment to the US Constitution that would define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. In 2007, he voted against the employment non-discrimination act. In 2010, he voted against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. In 2015, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act … .”

That’s absolutely right. And while Pence’s views on LGBTQ+ issues might not matter nearly as much as they would have in the past, when he was actually in office and in a place to impact real policy, he is still drawing large crowds who are giving standing ovations for his bigoted missives. So, let’s not cut him any slack just because he puts forth a tepid, feckless hypothetical every now and then.

(image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.