We Need To Talk About Mike Pence

By Isabella Cornell

Following the news of Trump’s victory yesterday, it wasn’t a stretch to say that our nightmares had come true. Between overloaded suicide prevention hotlines, a crashed Canadian immigration website, tears on the streets, “Grab Her by the Pussy” being chanted in USyd’s Manning Bar, and the war cries of ‘Make America Great Again’-hat clad men along Newtown’s King Street singing out “Yeah the Boys”- it certainly feel like we’re living through the dawn of a cruel dystopia.

It is not news that Trump plays on the insecurities and fears of many Americans to the detriment of vulnerable minorities. His appalling antics have been consistently reported by almost every major news media outlet on earth. But what about the man behind Trump’s support of archaic anti-LGBT+ policies who has managed to stay relatively unscrutinised in the shadow of Trump’s enormous media presence – the ultra-conservative Vice President elect Mike Pence?

Trump’s running mate, and now, future Vice President of the United States, former Indiana Governor Mike Pence, has managed to keep a fairly low profile outside of his home state of Indiana. Now, with the support of Trump, this born-again Christian has made several worrying claims, solidifying their administration’s anti-LGBT+ agenda which will seek to unravel many of the positive gains for the community made by the Obama administration.

Let’s take a look at some of what his major policies might mean for the LGBT+ community in America in the wake of a Trump/Pence administration:

Cuts funding to AIDS and instead supports conversion therapy

One of Pence’s most worrying stances is his background of cutting funding to HIV/AIDS research and treatment and sexual health education in favour of a diversion of funds towards debunked conversion treatment therapy to “cure” LGBT+ people. Pence states on his website “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”

Dangerously unsupportive of anti-discrimination legislation

In 2007, Pence voted against the ‘Employment Non-Discrimination Act’ which sought to protect individuals from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, stating that it “wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace.”

In 2009, when the ‘Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Bill’ was signed into law, Pence complained stating that it was part of a “radical social agenda.”

In 2011, Pence publicly opposed the Obama administration’s repeal of the army’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy suggesting that he did not want to see the US army “become a backdrop of social experimentation.”

Perhaps Pence’s most controversial move as a republican Governor was his damaging 2015 introduction of the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ a law which effectively allowed businesses to refuse service over religious beliefs.

Now, in 2016, Trump has pledged to sign the ‘First Amendment Defence Act’ which protects discrimination on the grounds of religion and blocks the government from taking action against anyone who “believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman.”

In addition, Trump’s win with Pence as VP will potentially destroy the ‘Equality Act,’ and any protection of the LGBT+ community against discrimination in housing, the workplace, education, healthcare and other arenas.

Supports North Carolina’s HB2 Law

Pence has vowed an “immediate” review of executive orders issued by President Obama, many speculate that this will undoubtedly include his directive to schools to allow students to use facilities matching their gender identity.

Meanwhile, in an opinion turnaround evident throughout Trump’s campaign, despite originally supporting transgender rights, allowing trans individuals to use the bathroom of their choice, closer to election day, Trump has publicly supported North Carolina’s archaic anti-transgender HB2 law.

Is Anti-Marriage Equality

In 2006, Pence supported a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality in Indiana, claiming “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”

In 2013, Pence signed a bill jailing same-sex couples who attempted to apply for a marriage license. He said being gay is a ‘choice’ and that preventing gay couples from marrying was not discrimination, but a means of enforcing ‘God’s idea’.

Now, Trump opposes equal marriage rights, and has vowed to appoint Supreme Court judges with a view to overturn federal equal marriage laws.

In the face of an uncertain future for many Americans, Mike Pence, is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous discriminatory anti-LGBT+ politicians seen in the forefront of American politics in decades. This Vice President elect supports treacherous policies which effectively strip LGBT+ Americans of their civil rights.

So – what now? It’s easy to feel disillusioned across the world right now, but there are some key things we need to take from this. In a country where we still don’t have marriage equality and the conservative right-wing of One Nation’s Pauling Hanson and Cory Bernardi are gaining more and more influence, this needs to be a wake up call. Australians need to fight in solidarity with our global community against complacency to create a better future for all of our vulnerable minority communities.

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