By Devin Malone
On January 20, President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office and become the Commander in Chief of the United States. That same day Mike Pence, former Governor of Indiana, will also be sworn into office as the Vice President. Now, while the President is possibly the most important figure in America, we should not forget who our Vice President is, especially one with such a track record as Pence.
To say that Pence has been a controversial figure is an understatement in many cases. For example, the cast of “Hamilton” gave a message to the Vice President when he attended their show earlier this month.
“We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us,” actor Brandon Victor Dixon said to Pence after the performance.
This was immediately followed by Trump stating on Twitter that Pence was being “harassed” by Dixon, and that the play was, in Trump’s words, “Overrated.” While Pence claims he was not offended by the message, according to CNN, he has been a controversial figure for numerous reasons these past few months due his strong stances on gay rights.
Pence pushed the “Religious Freedoms Restoration Act,” (RFRA) a blatantly homophobic law, back in 2015. The act allows people to discriminate and segregate people of a different sexual orientation based on their own personal “religious values.”
Pence also said he believes that conversion therapy, a harmful and barbaric “treatment” that has been discredited by the Human Rights Campaign and is also banned in five different states, including California. Pence has shown himself to be contradictory, however. Regardless of his previous homophobic statements, he proclaims his belief in equality.
“No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe,” Pence said in a public statement, for example.
What a strange thing to say for a man who believes that we should be spending more money on conversion therapy. Despite giving this out of character quote, he later wrote on his website, “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discrete insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.”
Also, Pence still fervently held on to the RFRA before he gave up on being a senator and joined Trump’s campaign.
While we may look to our new President and wonder about what is to come in America’s near future, we should never lose sight of who is second in command because he can be just as, if not more important and powerful than the President himself.