Mike Pence's Long History of Bigotry and Intolerance

10/07/2016 12:29 am ET Updated Oct 12, 2016

Mike Pence may have performed calmly and collectedly in the vice-presidential debate, but if one can lie smoothly and without conscious about Trump’s past bigoted, extreme statements such a placid demeanor is not difficult to maintain.  Lying is second nature to the Trump ticket, but Pence says he is a “Christian first, a conservative, then a Republican.”  Like many evangelical Christians,  he undoubtedly believes in a literal interpretation of the bible. After all, the ninth commandment says: “One shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” but perhaps Pence believes that since his opponent, Senator Tim Kaine, is not literally his next door neighbor then lying is permissible.  

On the floor of the House in 2002 Pence made an impassioned speech arguing that schools should give equal weight to Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution, which he describes as just a theory, neglecting the fact that all science provides is theories which are based on vast bodies of empirical evidence. Of course, Intelligent Design is just a politically correct way to describe creationism and has no scientific validity.

As a born again, evangelical Christian, Pence is ideologically rigid and often sits in judgement of others even at times rejecting modernity.  Not to question his faith, which is certainly sincere, it is just his application  of the teachings of Jesus, who spoke more of tolerance and compassion than the forsaking of swearing and alcohol, which is alarming.  After all, a morally righteous life is not necessarily a Christian life.

In the House of Representatives, Pence said that being gay was a choice.  In fact, he advocated the diversion of taxpayer dollars to “conversion therapy,” an odious practice banned in five states, which the American Psychological Association has disavowed as  unethical and harmful quackery.  This technique defines homosexuality as a mental  disorder and  through de-conditioning and other sometimes violent, often primitive techniques attempts to change one’s sexual orientation from gay to straight.

As a congressman, Pence said gay marriage would signal “societal collapse.”  According to Time magazine: “Citing a Harvard researcher, Pence said in a speech, “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”  However, it is not gays who are the cause of a “deterioration of marriage and family,”  more often it is philandering husbands as Donald Trump’s two ex-wives can attest to.  As a congressman, Pence supported a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. 

As governor, perhaps Pence’s most overtly discriminatory action toward the gay community took place when he signed a bill into law “permitting business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers due to their religious beliefs,” according to Mother Jones.  The law did not stop there. One could, under the law, refuse to rent to Muslims or hire Jewish people or refuse to serve atheists and then cite one’s religious beliefs as a defense against discrimination lawsuits.   The state suffered economic boycotts after the passage of this decidedly discriminatory law.   In a  move that did not really appease anyone, the law was later revised to explicitly bar businesses from denying services to someone on the basis of categories that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

As with many evangelical Christians, Pence  philosophically sides with fiscal austerity over compassion. According to Mother Jones: “Between 2006 and 2009, Pence voted against raising the minimum wage, expanding health coverage for low-income kids, and providing additional funding for Section 8 vouchers, which help low-income families pay rent.”  Pence must want to insure that Jesus was correct when he said that the poor will always be with you.  So many evangelicals care more about moral probity rather than flagrant injustices such as income inequalities.  The whole movement seems to have an authoritarian bent. 

Pence has not been kind to immigrants. As a legislator, in another losing, futile effort Pence sponsored a bill that would have ended birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented parents.  As governor, after a terrorist attack carried out in Paris last year, Pence ordered all state agencies to “halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The courts had the last word. According to CBS News: “A federal appeals court ... dismissed as “nightmare speculation” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s fears that Syrian refugees could commit acts of terror, siding with a judge who blocked Pence’s order seeking to prevent agencies from helping resettle the immigrants in the state.”

Other Pence “accomplishments” included slashing Planned Parenthood funding which resulted in clinic closures across the state. The clinics provided STD testing and Scott County, Indiana became home to a scourge of HIV outbreaks.  Because of an epidemic of opioid addiction and the sharing of dirty needles, several hundred cases of HIV hit this rural community.  Pence’s reaction was to “pray” about it and belatedly allow for a needle exchange program which halted the outbreak.  

Clearly, Pence is more ideologically rigid than Donald Trump who heads the ticket. Surely, Pence became the savior of evangelical conservatives after the vice-presidential debate, many of whom may even see Donald Trump as dangerous and highly unpredictable, not suitable for high office. However, Pence has been no friend to the poor, to the disaffected, to the vulnerable.  He has shown no compassion.  As the Statue of Liberty says so eloquently: “Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  Pence has laughed in the face of this inscription by means of his actions.  Republicans have long worked to afflict the already afflicted and comfort the already comfortable in a sad reversal of the universal maxim and Pence is the living embodiment of their bankrupt philosophy.

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