Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat Dinner in Baltimore on Friday September 13, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Getty)
US Vice President Mike Pence claimed that homosexuality was “a choice” in the 1990s, as he fought against efforts to protect gay people from discrimination.
Newly-unearthed materials discovered by CNN’s KFile shed light on Pence’s lifelong opposition to LGBT+ rights.
As the head of the right-wing Indiana Policy Review Foundation think tank during the 1990s, Pence opposed efforts in Lafayette, Indiana to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Mike Pence: Being gay is a choice or learned behaviour
Clippings from the 1993 Lafayette Journal and Courier reveal that Pence claimed: “It represents a very bad move in public policy.
“It opens up from a legal standpoint … a Pandora’s Box of legal rights and legal difficulties once you identify homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority.”
He added: “Once you identify homosexuals as a minority, then by definition they would need to be afforded constitutional protection.
“Up to this point, our legal tradition in America has drawn a line over those things. I do not choose whether I am a black American.
“The great vast majority of the psychological community says homosexuality at a very minimum is a choice by the individual, and at the maximum, is a learned behaviour.”
In another 1993 interview with the same newspaper he suggested that the battled would ” be one of the biggest issues of the ’90s,” adding: “You’ve got a tiger by the tail.”
It was previously revealed that while Pence was in charge of the Indiana Policy Review, the group published an attack on The Wall Street Journal for taking part in a job fair for gay journalists.
IPR suggested that “gaydom” was a “pathological condition”, arguing that gay journalists would be biased in their coverage because of their sexuality, and claiming: “The more extreme of the gay movement consider themselves members of a sexual determined political party.”
During the same time period, the IPR journal published a piece attacking gay people serving in the army.
It claimed: “Homosexuals are not as a group able bodied. They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”
Pence has ‘extreme’ anti-LGBT record
Responding to the new revelations, GLAAD said: “This new reporting further confirms what we’ve known all along: Mike Pence is an anti-LGBTQ activist and has worked against LGBTQ people during every part of his career.”
Pence’s anti-LGBT beliefs have persisted throughout his career.
In 2000, Pence published an election manifesto calling for HIV/AIDS prevention funding to be drained from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus,” an apparent reference to LGBT+ inclusive groups.
Pence instead called for funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” which has since led to accusations he was endorsing conversion therapy.
While serving as Governor of Indiana in 2015, he signed the controversial ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, a law which allows religious people and businesses to cite their conscience as a defence in legal disputes.
Pence also appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality in a 2016 interview.
From 2013 to 2017, his cuts to HIV testing and ban on needle exchanges led to the worst outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the state’s history, sparking an intervention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 2018 report alleged that Pence has played a pivotal role in actions taken by the Trump administration to dismantle civil rights protections for LGBT+ people.
In March, Pence hit back “attacks” on his wife, Karen Pence, for teaching at a school that discriminates against gay children.
He has also been repeatedly linked to multiple anti-LGBT hate groups.