The anti-LGBT history of Vice President Mike Pence apparently isn’t lost on President Trump, who once joked his No. 2 in office “wants to hang” all the gay people, according to a recent article in the New Yorker.
The lengthy profile piece on Mike Pence contains significant details about his long career in politics starting as a U.S. House member, then Indiana governor and now vice president — highlighting Pence’s ties to the corporate right, including the Koch brothers, and the social conservative movement. (Recalling Pence’s time as a member of Congress, a former Republican staff member is quoted as saying Pence “was as far right as you could go without falling off the earth.”)
Although Pence has aided Trump in serving as a liaison to Congress and administration officials, the article says Trump likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” Citing two sources familiar with a meeting Trump and Pence had with a legal scholar, the article says Trump mocked his vice president’s views.
The legal scholar reportedly said if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would legalize abortion on their own, prompting Trump to say to Pence, “You see? You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.”
When the discussion at the meeting turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”
Pence has a long anti-LGBT history that consists of voting against LGBT rights in Congress, including support for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage nationwide as well as opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, hate crimes legislation and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. But Pence most famously signed a religious freedom law enabling anti-LGBT discrimination before being forced to sign a “fix” under pressure from the LGBT community and business leaders.
In 2000, Pence’s campaign material indicated he thinks funding for HIV programs should be contingent upon directing resources to “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Many have interpreted that to mean Pence supports widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy, although a Pence spokesperson has said he never supports it.
Amid the enactment of anti-LGBT policy over the course of the administration, many have suspected Pence has facilitated that change based on history. In fact, sources have told the Los Angeles Blade the vice president is leading on those action, although Pence denied taking an active role in that.
The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the White House seeking comment on why Trump would make that joke and whether he thinks the death penalty for homosexual acts is a human rights violation. (The Trump administration came out strongly against foreign laws condemning gay people to death in a statement after the United States voted “no” on a controversial death penalty resolution at the United Nations.)