Mike Pence is reportedly gearing up for a 2024 presidential bid by seeking support at a conference organised by an anti-LGBT+ group.
Pence, known for his hardline anti-LGBT+ beliefs, has been core to efforts to roll back equality under the Trump administration.
With just 33 days left until the US election, Pence – who was officially adopted as Donald Trump’s 2020 running mate by a unanimously-approving Republican party in August – travelled to Iowa to speak at a conference about the importance of faith.
The conference, ‘Faith in Leadership: The Need for Revival’, was organised by Family Leader, a conservative Christian group that says it “protects marriage” and “protects and defends family values” – presumably from the Gay Agenda, though its website isn’t clear.
The Family Leader and its conference are both run by Bob Vander Plaats, an old acquaintance of Pence’s who shares his anti-LGBT+ views and once said that homosexuality is “a public health risk”.
“If we’re teaching the kids ‘don’t smoke’ because that’s a risky lifestyle, the same can be true, too, with the homosexual lifestyle,” Plaats said in a 2011 interview, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Reporting on Pence’s Iowa visit, the HRC said: “Pence’s visit appears to focus on solidifying his base and visiting old friends.
“This visit begs questions about whether Pence is looking past the 2020 election and toward his 2024 presidential aspirations by doubling down on his long-held anti-LGBT+ positions as he gears up for a national Republican primary.”
Mike Pence is a fierce, lifelong opponent of LGBT+ rights.
With the Family Leader conference hours away at time of writing, it is not yet known what remarks Mike Pence will make.
But the former Indiana governor has an abysmal record on LGBT+ rights, both before and during his vice presidency. In response to the Supreme Court’s historic June ruling making it illegal to fire workers for being gay or trans, Pence vowed to stack the courts with even more conservatives if Trump is re-elected for a second term.
Pence’s anti-LGBT+ beliefs have persisted throughout much of his career – sitting at the core of his ideology and politics long before he entered the national spotlight as Trump’s running mate in 2016.
As the head of the right-wing Indiana Policy Review Foundation think tank in the 1990s, Pence opposed efforts to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Clippings unearthed by CNN’s KFile revealed that Pence claimed that homosexuality was “a choice”, as he fought against efforts to protect gay people from discrimination.
He explained: “The great vast majority of the psychological community says homosexuality at a very minimum is a choice by the individual, and at the maximum, is a learned behaviour.”