Following news that the Republican Party may have produced its most socially conservative platform ever, Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive nominee for president, selected the far right governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, as his running mate.
“Today, Donald Trump doubled down on his hateful anti-LGBTQ agenda,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ lobbying group, on a July 15 conference call with reporters. “The Trump-Pence ticket is the gravest threat the LGBTQ community has ever faced in a presidential election.”
Pence was elected governor of Indiana in 2012 and began serving in 2013. In 2015, he signed a so-called religious freedom bill that caused a national backlash, with governors and mayors across the country barring public employees from traveling to Indiana on official duties. Businesses in the state demanded that the law be amended to say explicitly that it could not be used to discriminate, a fix that was eventually enacted.
Pence defended the original law even as he approved the change.
In his 12 years in Congress, starting in 2000, Pence racked up a conservative record consistently, getting zeroes on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. Pence opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, marriage equality, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), federal legislation that would have barred bias in hiring and firing based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Representative James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, joined Griffin on the call along with other left-leaning groups that have also endorsed Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Pence had a “Tea Party mentality” when he was in Congress, Clyburn said.
“I think that all of us have been sort of dismayed by the kind of campaign Mr. Trump has been running,” Clyburn said. “It seems to me that his choice of former Congressman Pence is a doubling down.”
While the party has yet to approve the platform, the draft document endorses therapies that are intended to alter sexual orientation but have no basis in science and have been shown to carry psychological risks, calls for a reversal of the 2015 US Supreme Court decision that required states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and supports state laws that bar transgender people from using bathrooms that are consistent with their gender identity.
In a statement that was mailed to members, the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group, called the draft document “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history.”
Trump has said that states should be free to enact laws, such as HB2 in North Carolina, that limit access to bathrooms for transgender people. The North Carolina law has caused a national uproar, and the state has lost jobs and revenue since it was enacted this past spring.
Trump has also said he would repeal a 2014 executive order issued by President Barack Obama that barred federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. He has promised to appoint judges to the US Supreme Court who would overturn the 2015 marriage equality decision.
Other groups on the call also condemned the Pence pick.
“Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he would make up for his obvious lack of experience by surrounding himself with experts,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “When he says experts, what he really means is extreme ideologues.”
Trump’s calls to ban Muslims from the US and his attacks on Latinx immigrants have alienated voters on the left, as well.
“When it comes to immigration these two men could not be further from what most of the country wants,” said Martin Garcia, director of campaigns for the Latino Victory Fund, a political action committee. “Our community has had enough of Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric.”