Metro Weekly

Trump to pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as VP (Update: Confirmed)

Pence has accrued a long record of support for anti-LGBT measures

Mike-Pence-by-Gage-Skidmore

Mike Pence (Photo: Gage Skidmore).

Update: Trump confirmed the news this morning via his favorite medium, Twitter.

Original Story: Donald Trump is reportedly picking Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate in an official announcement scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday. The political trade publication Roll Call reported that Trump had finally settled on Pence after slowly whittling down a field that included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Army Gen. Michael Flynn.

The selection was later confirmed by CBS‘ Major Garrett, and by The Indianapolis Star. The Star reported that Pence would not be running for re-election this November, instead casting his lot with Trump and forcing GOP officials in the Hoosier State to pick a replacement.

Trump’s campaign has continued to play coy, with Paul Manafort, chairman of the campaign, tweeting: “Re: @realDonaldTrump VP selection, a decision will be made in the near future and the announcement will be tomorrow at 11am in New York.”

Jason Miller, senior communications advisor to the Trump campaign, also refused to confirm that Pence had been chosen, tweeting: “A decision has not been made by Mr. Trump. He will be making a decision in the future and will be announcing his Vice Presidential pick tomorrow at 11 a.m. as planned.”

Trump likely hopes Pence can shore up conservative voters who preferred his chief rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and unify the Republican base ahead of the general election. Pence has also been a strong fundraiser, both when he served in Congress from 2001 to 2013 and as governor. Pundits have argued that Pence will rally social conservatives thanks to Pence’s signing of a law prohibiting women from getting abortions due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus, and his signing of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which condones discrimination against LGBT individuals and same-sex couples.

But some conservatives have criticized Pence for caving to pressure after major corporations, organizations, the LGBT community, and their allies called for economic sanctions and boycotts of the state until the law was changed. As a result of the backlash, Pence and lawmakers proposed a “fix” to the law, amending it to explicitly say that the RFRA law is not intended to allow discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Socially conservative groups later sued the state, claiming the “fix” was unconstitutional.

Giving voice to those concerns was conservative pundit Ann Coulter, who unleashed a series of tweets slamming the selection of Pence. “Withholding comment until it’s official, but if claims about Pence as VP are correct, boy was I right about this being Trump’s first mistake,” Coulter wrote, adding that Pence “is the combo-platter of disaster.” On her Facebook page, she blasted Pence’s previous support of bringing in more guest workers and of a “compromise” bill dealing with illegal immigration, before specifically referencing the RFRA fight.

“He also somehow managed to tick off both sides in gay marriage debate,” wrote Coulter. “After his state passed a law passed protecting Christians from having to participate in gay marriages, all hell broke loose. Pence thought to himself: ‘I have semi heading for me. Should I just stand here? Yes, I think I’ll just stand here!’ First, he allowed himself to be portrayed as a right-wing homophobic nut and then — just days later — he sold out to the left-wing activists, anyway.”

LGBT advocates were understandably outraged at the pick, issuing statements blasting Pence for his record on issues like marriage equality and nondiscrimination laws. As Mother Jones noted, during his career in Congress, Pence supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, opposed a version the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that did not provide protections for transgender people, opposed LGBT-inclusive hate crime laws, and voted against repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“In selecting Mike Pence, Donald Trump has picked a vice-presidential running mate who is best-known for a law that was so extremely anti-LGBTQ that businesses, organizations and major events threatened to flee Indiana in droves,” said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund. “One can only imagine what sort of impact this type of person might have on the lives of LGBTQ people across the country, and on our nation’s economy and future.”

“As Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence has given us all a preview of his vision for America — a future where LGBTQ people everywhere are put at risk for discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” added JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “It’s alarming that Donald Trump is considering putting an atrociously anti-LGBTQ Governor like Mike Pence just a heartbeat away from the Presidency. If Trump’s own despicable anti-LGBTQ record wasn’t enough, this reality is a vivid reminder of what disaster a Trump-Pence administration would spell for LGBTQ Americans and our allies.”

“Donald Trump has launched indefensible attacks against women, immigrants, Muslims, and so many others, and today he opened a new offensive against LGBT people with his selection of Mike Pence as his running mate,” Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Governor Pence has made a career out of singling out LGBT people for discrimination…His nomination is a rallying cry for the LGBT community and our allies across the nation. There can be no more illusions about the Republican presidential ticket’s position on our equality.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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