Mike Pence wants voters to re-elect President Donald Trump so he can continue fighting for the right of religious people to discriminate in the name of faith.
On Saturday, Pence became the first sitting vice president to address the Values Voter Summit, a yearly gathering hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, Family Research Council. During his address, the conservative trumpeted the administration’s rollback of LGBTQ rights under the guise of so-called “religious freedom.”
“Our administration has… taken action to protect and promote our first freedom, the freedom of religion and religious liberty for every American,” he said, in comments first reported by the Washington Blade.
From there, Pence highlighted what he believes are the some of the administration’s biggest accomplishments regarding “religious freedom.”
“Last year, President Trump chose the National Day of Prayer to announce new policies to protect the religious liberty of every American regardless of their creed,” Trump’s right-hand man continued. “We’ve taken action to protect the conscience rights of doctors and nurses.”
— Family Research Council (@FRCdc) September 22, 2018
As INTO previously reported, the POTUS signed an executive order in May 2018 creating the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, an office dedicated to furthering religious freedom.
In a ceremony held at the White House’s Rose Garden honoring the annual National Day of Prayer, Trump claimed the Faith and Opportunity Initiative would ensure religiously affiliated organizations have “equal access to government funding and equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.”
The office will also monitor the White House and hold it accountable for “any failures… to comply with religious liberty protections under law,” the president claimed.
In addition, the Trump administration also announced in January the creation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom division in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its purpose is to defend the right of health workers to deny treatment based on their “deepest moral or religious convictions,” which could include refusing care to trans individuals or people living with HIV.
Pence added that Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is critical to continuing this goal, a mission that advocates say erodes basic rights and protections for LGBTQ people.
“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a man of integrity with impeccable credentials and a proven judicial philosophy,” Pence told the Washington, D.C. crowd this weekend. “On the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, he wrote more than 300 opinions that reflect a strong record of support for limited government, religious liberty, and our Second Amendment.”
“He’s a conservative who will interpret the Constitution as written,” he added, “and his record and career deserves the respect of every member of the United States Senate.”
In a July letter, more than 60 LGBTQ organizations came out to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation over fears that he will undermine major pro-equality rulings (e.g., Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges) from the Supreme Court bench.
Very little is known about his stance on LGBTQ rights, and GOP leaders have refused requests to access records from the three years he spent as staff secretary under the George W. Bush administration. During that time, the White House pursued a constitutional amendment to limit the federal definition of marriage to one man and one woman.
— Family Research Council (@FRCdc) September 22, 2018
Two women have come forward since that letter was issued to accuse the former D.C. circuit court judge of sexual assault. The National Center for Lesbian Rights subsequently called Kavanaugh to formally withdraw his nomination.
The vice president stopped short of condemning Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh assaulted her during a high school party in the early 80s, in his Values Voter Summit address. Pence did, however, claim that “the way some Democrats have conducted themselves during [the confirmation hearings] is a disgrace and a disservice to the Senate and the American people.”
Fellow White House official Ben Carson was far more explicit in comments made to the same crowd just a day earlier. The Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary called the accusations “desperate” and likened them to “chaos and destruction.”
“[T]here are two sides to every story,” he told attendees of the three-day conference.
Pence concluded that the treatment of Kavanaugh illustrates the choice Americans face at the ballot box in 2020. Right-wing voters will choose “between a party that celebrates America” (referring to Republicans) and “one that often demeans millions of our neighbors and friends” (a nod to the Democratic Party).
The vice president believes God will lead voters down the right path.
“Let’s keep faith that He who has ever watched over this nation still governs in the affairs of men,” said Pence, who also allegedly thinks that God has called him to be the “president-in-waiting.”
The second-in-command — who signed a swiftly repealed “religious freedom” law as governor of Indiana — was one of several notable anti-LGBTQ figures to attend this weekend’s Values Voter Summit. He was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, and “Activist Mommy” blogger Elizabeth Johnston.
Last year Trump claimed a dubious piece of history when he became the first sitting POTUS to attend the conference.
Header image via Twitter