Mike Pence’s wife stopped in North Carolina this week to stump for a Republican candidate who thinks America was great when homosexuality was a crime.
On Monday, Karen Pence appeared as a special guest of the “Women for Mark Harris Bus Tour” in support of one of country’s most virulently anti-LGBTQ candidates. Harris, who is running in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, waxed nostalgic about locking up LGBTQ people in a 2015 speech.
“We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity,” the evangelical preacher claimed.
More recently, Harris claimed in an interview with Roll Call that wives “should submit fully to their husbands,” before adding that “submitting to her husband does not mean that they are not equal.” In the same conversation, he alleged that being gay is a “choice.”
Hoping to lead conservative women put off by his comments back to the Republican Party, Mrs. Pence claimed now is not the time to stray.
“I’m here because this race is so important,” she said earlier this week, in comments first reported by Right Wing Watch. “[…] You have the chance to make a national impact. The road to the majority leads right through North Carolina. This seat, this race, it is critical to keeping the majority in Congress.”
Mrs. Pence added that unless voters elect Harris, the president’s “agenda is going to be stopped short.”
Harris’ district is one of the many vulnerable seats Democrats hope to flip in the November midterms. To win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 2011, liberals need to claim victory in at least 24 districts currently held by Republican lawmakers.
North Carolina’s 9th is considered anyone’s race. While a poll conducted by Civitas in early October claimed Democrat Dan McCready was ahead by four, a more recent New York Times survey showed Harris leading by five.
Mrs. Pence stressed that female voters will prove crucial in a close contest.
“Every single vote in every single race is going to count in this election,” she told the crowd of 100 people gathered at UNC Charlotte. “Women need to vote in this election.”
“[Harris is] the kind of strong, principled conservative leader who will stand with this administration to deliver results,” Mrs. Pence also said during the address. “He’s a husband, a father, a pastor, a leader. He has devoted his life to his service to others … a devoted servant of God.”
It’s not surprising that the Second Lady would admire someone like Harris, considering that he and her husband share many of the same views.
As a pastor at the First Baptist Church of Charlotte, Harris supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina. He also campaigned against an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in 2016, even donating $50,000 of his own money to the effort.
He has said that fighting against equality is a matter of “standing up for the values and principles that have been a part of the fabric of American society.”
Pence has supported nearly identical policies during his 20 years in public life.
On at least three occasions, he backed a federal amendment defining marriage as a union between “one man and one woman.” As the governor of Indiana, he signed a law allowing businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people on the grounds of religious faith.
Both men are strongly tied to the Family Research Council, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. Recently, Pence became the first sitting vice president to address the anti-LGBTQ lobby organization’s Values Voter Summit. Harris is a member of its “Watchmen on the Wall” network.
Headed by close Trump advisor Tony Perkins, the FRC supports conversion therapy, believes trans people “threaten the safety of women and children” in bathrooms, and claim LGBTQ advocates want to normalize pedophilia.
Like Harris, the group has also advocated for outlawing same-sex intercourse.
After her 10-minute stump speech for Harris, Mrs. Pence stopped for a chat with Elizabeth Johnston, a conservative extremist known as the “Activist Mommy.” Johnston has called bans on conversion therapy “un-American,” believes LGBTQ Pride parades are “public displays of lewdness and nudity,” and says LGBTQ sex-ed classes “rape the minds of children.”
Although Mrs. Pence has largely stayed out of the spotlight prior to this week, she revealed in a Washington Post profile last year that her husband refuses to eat alone with other women.