Despite the White House’s claims that Vice President Mike Pence isn’t anti-LGBTQ because he recently dined with the Irish Prime Minister and his husband, CNN has unearthed comments Pence made in the ’90s calling homosexuality “a choice” and “a learned behavior.” Pence’s spokesperson didn’t say whether the Veep’s views have since changed.
Pence made the comments when reacting to the city of Lafayette, Indiana’s 1992 proposal to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination ordinance. The proposed ordinance excluded churches and church-affiliated groups and established a nine-person council to handle discrimination claims in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Criticizing the ordinance, Pence said:
“Once you identify homosexuals as a minority, then by definition they would need to be afforded constitutional protection. Up to this point, our legal tradition in America has drawn a line over those things. I do not choose whether I am a black American … The great vast majority of the psychological community says homosexuality at a very minimum is a choice by the individual, and at the maximum, is a learned behavior.”
CNN notes, “The American Psychological Association said in 1992 that data did not support the view that homosexuality was a choice and studies at the time in the 1990s suggested homosexuality was biological and genetic.”
Around the time of his comments, Pence served as president of the conservative think tank, the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.
In a January 1993 installment of the Indiana Policy Review, Pence wrote, “[This ordinance] represents a very bad move in public policy. It opens up from a legal standpoint … a Pandora’s Box of legal rights and legal difficulties once you identify homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority.”
In short, Pence and the ordinance’s other opponents worried it would force religious people to hire and rent to queers. After initially failing, the ordinance finally passed through a 5-4 vote in May 1993.
Naturally, Darin Miller, a spokesman for Pence, recently told CNN, “[the Vice President] has always opposed discrimination in any form and defends the Constitution’s protection of the rights of all Americans regardless of race, sex or religion.”
As one queer journalist noted, “Even more distressingly, Pence’s spokesperson also doesn’t say whether he has changed his position on homosexuality since 1992.”