Vice President-elect Mike Pence probably didn’t think his trip to a Broadway musical this Friday would become a national news story, but when someone who advocates for anti-gay pseudoscience shows up to the theater, it should come as no surprise that a little pushback might happen.
“Hamilton” actor Brandon Victor Dixon interrupted the audience applause after their Friday night performance to directly address Pence, who was sitting in the audience. The message called upon the future VP to “uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us.”
“All of us,” Dixon reiterated.
Unsurprisingly, the event served as meme-making call-to-arms for Trump supporters, and Donald Trump is still freaking out about it on Twitter — all a sideshow that’s taking the focus away from Pence’s grotesque views regarding gay Americans.
As Politifact points out, Pence once seemed willing to take his belief in “Family Values” a step further and direct taxpayer dollars towards a practice so psychologically harmful that it was banned in five states. That practice, gay conversion therapy, claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight.
The practice is still revered in right-wing Christian circles by practitioners and ‘patients’ alike, but has been roundly debunked as substantially damaging, especially when practiced on young people. Unfortunately, there’s a contingent in Washington who still have faith in this quackery.
During the Republican National Convention this summer, McClatchy noted that “delegates voted to approve a platform that backs the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.”
“The platform makes no specific mention of gay conversion therapy,” McClatchy noted, “but critics say that passage is aimed at accepting the notion that one’s sexual orientation can be changed.”
During his first successful run for Congress in 2000, Pence wrote on his campaign website, under a section called Strengthening the American Family:
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Also on the website, Pence wrote: “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.” And “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet [sic] and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.”
Politifact could not find a single shred of evidence that Pence ever walked back this disturbing position.
Although Snopes was careful to point out that he never vocally endorsed “conversion therapy” per se, his own words from his campaign website are clear; he thinks troubled gay Americans should be able to seek out a fraudulent method of treatment that claims to reverse who they are.
Note: A piece in the conservative The Daily Caller earlier this month tried to distance Pence from the practice. While clarifying that the theory claiming sexuality can be reversed is a lie, David Benkof drew the distinction between “orientation” and “behavior,” saying conversion therapy claims to reverse the former, while Pence was talking about treating the latter.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)