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Pence again defends wife for teaching at anti-LGBT school

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Mike Pence, gay news, Washington Blade
Vice President Mike Pence (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Vice President Mike Pence said Friday “freedom of religion is under attack” in the United States, citing as an example criticism over his wife Karen Pence’s decision to teach at a school that refuses to admit LGBT students or teachers.

“The freedom of religion is not just enshrined in the Constitution, it’s enshrined in the hearts of the American people,” Pence said. “But make no mistake about it. The freedom of religion is under attack in this country. Lately, it’s actually become fashionable for media elites and Hollywood liberals to mock religious belief.” 

Pence made the remarks to great applause to the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference in a speech infused with religious language. Lauding President Trump, Pence said the administration has taken actions that have advanced the security and prosperity of the United States and religious freedom.

Asserting religious freedom is under attack, Pence referenced his wife’s decision to teach art at the Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Va., which does not allow LGBT students or families to enroll and won’t employ LGBT applicants.  The decision by Karen Pence inspired an outcry among LGBT rights supporters who said the second lady shouldn’t be teaching at the school.

“My own family recently came under attack just because my wife Karen went back to teach art to children at a Christian school,” Pence said. “Let me say before all of you, I couldn’t be more proud of my wife.”

Karen Pence was present in the CPAC audience, which applauded upon her husband’s praise of her. The vice president joined the applause. The second lady appeared emotional and gave a brief wave to the crowd.

“She’s a Marine Corps mom, she’s a great school teacher and Karen Pence is a great second lady for the United States of America,” Pence said.

It’s the not the first time Pence has defended the second lady over criticism based on her decision to teach at the anti-LGBT school. During an interview with EWTN Global Catholic Network, Pence said he was “deeply offended” by the criticism.

Pence stated a commitment to religious freedom — often a term used to mean anti-LGBT discrimination — after hailing Trump’s appointment of conservatives like Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the judiciary.

“They’re conservatives who will uphold all of the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Pence said. 

In their short time on the bench, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have already issued decisions against LGBT rights, such as lifting court orders to allow the Trump administration to enact its ban on transgender people in the military.

As anti-LGBT groups are asserting a religious freedom right to refuse services to LGBT people and deny LGBT parents adoption rights, Pence said the Trump administration’s position was clear.

“It’s about the sincerely held belief of millions of Americans who cherish their Christian faith and Christian education.” Pence said. “I’ll make you a promise: Under this president and this administration, we will always stand with people of faith, we will always defend the freedom of religion of every American of every faith so help us God.”

Pence has a long anti-LGBT history that includes votes as a congressman against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and opposition to marriage equality. His record notably includes signing into law as Indiana governor a “religious freedom” widely seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.

Pence indicated through a spokesperson he supports the Trump administration’s recently announced global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality in countries where it is illegal, such as Iran.

Although that position contrasts with Pence’s record on LGBT rights, it’s consistent with his criticism of Iran — a view he articulated during his speech at CPAC.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the leading state sponsor of terror in the world,” Pence said. “Iran supports terrorist proxies, fuels conflicts in the region, plots terrorist attacks on European soil and openly advocates the destruction of the state of Israel.”

Pence recalled a recent to trip to Europe and visiting Auschwitz, where during the Holocaust Nazi Germany operated a concentration camp as part of its effort to kill an estimated 6 million Jewish people. In a somber moment during his speech, Pence said he and the second lady prayed there.

“The history of that time must never be forgotten,” Pence said. “We mourn with those mourn and grieve with those who grieve, but we say from our heart, ‘never again.’”

A good portion of his speech was also devoted to denouncing socialism at a time when many Democrats are embracing Medicare for All and a Green New Deal to confront climate change.

“To keep on winning, my fellow conservatives, we have a choice to make in the next 20 months, will we re-elect a president who is making America great again for four more years, or will we let the Democrats take America on a hard-left turn and lose all the gains that we’ve fought so hard to make?” Pence said.

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Arts & Entertainment

2021 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalist in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd.

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It is Decision 2021! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd. Our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 21st and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 22nd.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, PEPCO, Washington Regional Transplant Community.

Vote below or by clicking HERE.

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World

Biden highlights LGBTQ rights in UN General Assembly speech

President noted crackdowns in Chechnya, Cameroon

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President Biden addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021. (Screen capture via NBC News)

President Biden on Tuesday in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly spoke in support of LGBTQ rights around the world.

“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear,” he said.

Biden in his speech specifically cited anti-LGBTQ crackdowns in Chechnya and Cameroon. He spoke after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights, addressed the General Assembly.

“As we pursue diplomacy across the board, the United States will champion the democratic values that go to the very heart of who we are as a nation and a people: freedom, equality, opportunity and a belief in the universal rights of all people,” said Biden.

The White House earlier this year released a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad.

The decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations and protecting LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers are two of the administration’s five priorities in its efforts to promote LGBTQ rights abroad. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week expressed concern over the fate of LGBTQ Afghans who remain in their country after the Taliban regained control of it, but it remains unclear how many of them the U.S. has been able to evacuate.

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Local

Veteran restauranteurs to open Drift in Rehoboth

Second Block Hospitality eyes 2022 debut for new raw bar

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Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
A new raw bar is coming to Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the generally anti-business positions of the current Rehoboth Beach Mayor and some members of the Rehoboth Beach Commission, there are still some entrepreneurs who have faith in Rehoboth Beach.

One such group is the newly announced Second Block Hospitality Group, which brings together local industry leaders Lion Gardner, Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies, and David Gonce.

According to the partners, “The mission of Second Block Hospitality is simple…to deliver exceptional hospitality. Second Block projects will be designed to become places that matter; that bring the community together. They aim to create unique spaces that foster positivity, a creative atmosphere, and memorable experiences. Driven by this philosophy we are thoughtful in everything we do, down to the smallest detail. In all our endeavors we are committed to crafting unique guest experiences through innovative design, authentic flavors, and warm hospitality.”

Their first new venture, Drift, will be a raw bar and dining room on Baltimore Avenue. The new project, already underway, is a massive restoration designed to transform the existing building, originally built in 1890 and used as a camp meeting house, into a modern structure with historic charm. Drift restaurant will feature a refined design, open airy spaces and lots of glass for open vantage points with an indoor/outdoor bar area and intimate back patio that will add to the allure of Baltimore Avenue.

“We could not be more excited to be breaking ground on another passion project,” said Suppies. “Coming through the last year brought many new challenges to our industry, but we were able to get very creative and grow as a company, so this new venture is very exciting for us.”

Another of the partners, Gardner, brings his skill set as a longtime chef to the new venture.

“One of my roles in the company will be to oversee the menu and kitchen at Drift and all of our projects moving forward,” Gardner said. “The great thing about our ownership group is that even though each partner has his own area of expertise, there is collaboration across the board; we are all involved in all aspects of the business. I am excited to learn and contribute in other areas as well, and luckily for me I’m working with a group of really talented, experienced and passionate guys.”

Drift is slated to open sometime in early 2022, and things are in full swing for the new restaurant owners, including menu planning. Townsend said, “Drift will be a true raw bar focusing on the art of raw seafood and not just oysters, along with traditionally prepared dishes influenced by the sea. From a beverage standpoint we will feature craft cocktails and eccentric wine and beer offerings. Think small and intimate, rustic and classic, yet casual with a focus on culinary inventiveness and creative spaces.” and good times. For more information visit driftrb.com.

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