Trump jokes about Pence hostility to gays
An article in the current New Yorker magazine quotes President Trump as “joking” that Vice President Pence is so hostile to gays he “wants to hang them all.”
The article, “The Danger of President Pence,” by Jane Mayer, in the October 23 issue, discusses why Vice President Mike Pence could be more dangerous for liberals and progressives than President Trump.
Pence’s involvement with anti-gay politics began with a friendship with Paul Weyrich, according to the article. Weyrich, founder of various right-wing organizations, used anti-gay messages as a way to rally conservative voters. It continued in the 1990s when Pence joined the board of the Indiana Family Institute which “campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals.” When Pence ran as a Republican for Congress in 2000, his platform promised to oppose “any effort to recognize homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.”
Most notably, when he was governor of Indiana, Pence signed a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that enabled employers to discriminate against LGBT people. And according to the New Yorker, Pence signed the legislation into law surrounded by “three of the most virulently anti-gay activists in the state.” (An intense, national backlash forced the legislature and Pence to come up with a less discriminatory law.)
Near the end of her article, Mayer says that “two sources” recalled President Trump “needling” Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality.
“During a meeting with a legal scholar,” wrote Mayer, “Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. …
“When the conversation turned to gay rights,” Mayer wrote, “Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, ‘Don’t ask that guy –he wants to hang them all!’”
Hitting the news the same day, meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reportedly directed the Department of Justice to take an unusually active role in prosecuting a hate crime against a transgender person in Iowa.
But an official at Lambda Legal said that, while Sessions was “right” to assist in the prosecution, “It is the height of cynicism for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use this –frankly rare– instance of civil rights enforcement under his tenure to deflect from the current department’s sustained opposition to its historic mission.”
Under Sessions, the DOJ has reversed Obama era policies that increased protections for people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“For Sessions now to seek credit for helping prosecute hate crimes against transgender people,” said Lambda Director of Strategy Sharon McGowan, “is akin to him handing out gasoline and matches and then looking for a pat on the back when he prosecutes someone for committing arson.”
Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay Republican group, commended Sessions’ action, saying it was the “first time a Republican presidential administration has assisted in pursuing anti-LGBT hate crime charges….”