Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) 2000 congressional campaign website shows an apparent anti-gay bias that presaged his signing of an a “religious freedom” bill, which critics say protects business owners who religiously object to serving same-sex couples.
Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski surfaced an archived version of the campaign website on Tuesday amid continued fallout from Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
As TPM previously reported, Pence has a long history of fighting against gay rights. But the the governor’s old website for his campaign for Congress shows a platform that took a much more hard-line stance against the LGBT rights movement than Pence seems to advocate today.
Congress should oppose marriage equality
Pence has long defined marriage as between a man and a woman, although he’s avoided saying anything as inflammatory about traditional versus same-sex marriage as some other prominent Republicans have.
However, Pence’s 2000 campaign platform stated that “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.”
That statement is in line with Pence’s vow to not recognize same-sex marriages in Indiana after a federal court order struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. But his belief that homosexual and heterosexual marriages are unequal was voiced in much stronger terms on the campaign website.
Congress should oppose laws protecting gays from discrimination
Pence in a news conference Tuesday called for legislation clarifying that the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t allow for discrimination against anyone.
But the 2000 campaign platform disavowed protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination.
“Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homsexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and minorities,” the website read.
Congress should support programs for gays who want to change their sexual orientation
Pence’s platform also appeared to urge Congress to re-evaluate federal funding for needy HIV patients’ treatment over concerns about homosexuality.
“Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus,” the website read. “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
It’s unclear to which institutions Pence was referring. The United Nations’ Committee Against Torture expressed concern last year that 48 states allow so-called “ex-gay” or conversion therapy programs aimed at turning gay youth straight.
Gays shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military
As TPM previously noted, Pence argued against repealing the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy under which LGBT service members were barred from serving openly.
Pence went further in his 2000 campaign platform on military reform, calling for an end to LGBT individuals serving in the military altogether.
“Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion,” the platform read.
This post has been updated.