North Texas Daily

Pence is no friend to the LGBTQ+ Community

Pence is no friend to the LGBTQ+ Community

Pence is no friend to the LGBTQ+ Community
November 14
18:54 2016

What does the future hold for the LGBTQ+ community? With the Trump campaign seeing victory on election night, rights established by the Obama administration will be regressed.

Although President-elect Donald Trump has no apparent animosity towards the LGBTQ+ community, the same cannot be said for his running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence. As a self-identified “Christian, conservative and Republican,” Pence has made it clear several times that he is committed to preserving conservative family values.

Am I worried? Absolutely. We should not forget the vice president also serves as the president of the U.S. Senate. In a senatorial vote whenever there is a tie, Pence will have the deciding vote.

In 2000, during his first successful run for Congress, the then-governor made his stance on sexual orientation clear by writing his agenda on his website, titled “Strengthening American Values.”

Pence proposed that money from a program, designated to help individuals with HIV/AIDS, should be diverted to organizations assisting “those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

He thinks sexual orientation is a matter of choice and believes conversion therapy helps people change those attributes.

Sexual orientation, despite right-wing thought, is not changeable like a suit.

“Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found that throughout history, societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family,” Pence said in a 2006 speech. “Marriage matters to kids. Marriage is a safe harbor to raise children.”

So it is not surprising that, a year later, Pence voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He said establishing such a law is equal to waging “war on freedom and religion in the workplace.”

Taking your religious beliefs into your place of employment has the potential to create a hostile environment.

While the bill successfully navigated the Senate, it failed in the House. Considering the make-up of the House, expecting the bill to pass was a bit of a stretch.

As stipulated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Technically, Pence has a right to his views, but that does not mean he should sign them into law.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was not designed to impose religious views on other people. The U.S. government does not have the authority to promote one religion above others, or the right to restrict an individual’s religious practices. There are no parenthetical exclusions in the clause, and it exists for the equal benefit of all Americans.

Jews, Muslims, atheists and agnostics have just as many rights as Christians.

In a 2010 interview with CNN, Pence opposed ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He argued that repealing the law would make the military become “a backdrop for social experimentation.”

Despite Pence’s opposition, in 2011, President Obama successfully repealed the policy. Openly gay military personnel can now serve their country.

In 2013, Pence signed a bill allowing for the jailing of same-gender couples seeking marriage licenses. To prove he wasn’t only targeting them, Pence also wanted to see marital clergy jailed for supplying those marriage licenses and performing the weddings.

Two years later, Pence signed a religious freedom law, allowing businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.

Even after significant backlash from business leaders, Pence signed an amendment to the law, adding provisions that essentially protected gays and lesbians. It was the first brush with criticism that the vice president-elect had to deal with from LGBTQ+ members.

There are dark days ahead for America, but the LGBTQ+ community could see some of the most negative changes.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Shain E. Thomas

Shain E. Thomas

Born in Sacramento, University of North Texas graduate student Shain E. Thomas is an actor, social historian and a freelance entertainment journalist. Shain, a member of National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and the UNT chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), is interested in studying Antebellum American history.

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