One Equal World

Where Does Mike Pence Really Stand on LGBTQ+ Rights?

Posted on: February 17, 2017

A photo of Vice President Mike Pence.

Photo credit: Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock

President Trump stated that he would let President Obama’s 2014 executive order, which barred discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees by federal contractors, stand. This came as a surprise to many people in the LGBTQ+ community, who had been bracing for the law to be repealed. But what is even more surprising is that Vice President Mike Pence, notorious for the “religious freedom” law that all but tanked Indiana’s economy, has come out in support of this move.

Trump said that “discrimination would have no place in our administration” during his campaign trail. But he ran on a platform that promised to bar and deport immigrants, chose Mike Pence as his running mate, and less than two weeks into his administration issued an executive order that banned people from Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. The LGBTQ+ community, among others, can be excused for not believing anything Trump or Pence says about being anti-discrimination.

So while on the one hand it does seem like Trump and Pence will leave LGBTQ+ rights alone, it’s important to note that the executive order in question only bars discrimination by federal contractors. For businesses that don’t contract with the federal government, whether or not they’re legally allowed to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community is a matter for the state to decide.

“Religious liberty” laws have been trotted out in a number of states, to varying degrees of success, but they all hinge on the “right” of people religiously opposed to the community to discriminate against it. It’s a flimsy pretense but one that won’t go away, even in the face of increased acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community across the country. While it seems unlikely that Trump will be issuing any executive orders targeting the community in the near future, it is a safe bet that he, and his administration, will be supporting religious liberty laws wherever they crop up.

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