Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Trump picks Pence as running mate

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced on Twitter Friday morning that he has selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.

Trump was to have announced his pick at a news conference, but postponed that until Saturday, citing the shocking Bastille Day attack in Nice, France that left 84 people, including 10 children and adolescents, dead.

(Indiana Governor Mike Pence)

(Indiana Governor Mike Pence)

Pence is widely regarded as anti-gay in LGBT and Democratic circles, but in the eyes of the conservative Republican Party base, he’s seen as too soft on LGBT people.

That seemed to be the general assessment of various commentators this week as they imagined the reception Republican and conservative voters might have.

Pence, a former congressman, had himself pondered a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 when he got high marks from conservative organizations.

As a member of the House of Representatives, Pence opposed every piece of pro-equal rights legislation that came to the floor, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He also voted for amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. In each of those years, his record on LGBT issues earned him a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.

Speaking at an event in Iowa in 2011, Pence suggested that allowing gay couples to marry would lead to an economic meltdown. He told MSNBC that repeal of DADT amounted to trying to “advance a liberal social agenda” and “mainstream homosexuality.”

In 2014 as governor, Pence led support behind a state bill to ban recognition of same-sex marriages. The cut sentence called for also banning recognition of other forms of same-sex relationships, such as civil unions. And in 2015, he supported and signed a bill that would have allowed citizens to discriminate against LGBT people by claiming to hold a religious belief that compelled them to do so.

That law led to a backlash among companies such as Salesforce and others, who threatened to pull business from the state.

As news about Trump’s choice as Pence for his running mate leaked out this week, Bob Vander Plaats, who has headed up anti-gay campaigns in Iowa, told an Iowa television station that Pence will attract evangelicals to the ticket because he is “pro-life” and against marriage for same-sex couples.

But Pence disappointed some conservatives last year when – after first supporting and signing the so-called religious freedom bill – he signed a “clarification bill” aimed at “resolving controversy” and “making clear every person feels welcome and respected” in Indiana.

The Republican convention begins Monday in Cleveland, Ohio. At least one out gay speaker has been announced: Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and a Facebook board member, will address the delegates.

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, July 15, 2016 @ 8:18 am PST
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