Image composite from Archive.org’s snapshot of MikePence.com, dated April 17, 2000
Savvy web reporters dug into the Internet Archive this week to unearth the historical record of Mike Pence’s political intentions. Currently, he serves as the governor of Indiana, and is being criticized for signing a discriminatory law called “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Back in 2000, when Pence was first running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Archive captured a snapshot of his former campaign agenda.
Among the many socially conservative points, three specific items seem to spell out a long-running opposition to equal rights for LGBT Americans. The “Pence Agenda” railed against legal recognition for same-sex marriages, as well as the opportunity for gay Americans to serve in the U.S. military.
- “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.
- “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.
- “… bringing an end to the ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ policy of permitting homosexuals to serve in the armed forces. Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion.”
Other “Pence Agenda” points referred to special benefits being given to only the “traditional two parent family,” and an end to government funds being awarded to “organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.”
“I don’t support discrimination against gays or lesbians or anyone else,” Pence said at a Tuesday press conference. “I abhor discrimination.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he wrote, “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”
Yet, when asked by the Indianapolis Star if he wanted to make gay and lesbian orientation a “protected class” against discrimination, the governor responded, “That is not on my agenda.” He repeated the sentiment on Fox News, adding, “There is no license to discriminate. And there was never any intention in this law to give businesses permissions to deny services to an individual on the basis of who they care about.”
Pence says the new RFRA law has suffered from “misunderstanding, and confusion, and mischaracterization,” and wants his state’s legislature to “clarify” it this week.
What do you think? Has he had a change of heart? Comment below.
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