Former Vice President Joe Biden is nearing a decision on whether or not to run for president in 2020. His recent praise of Mike Pence may hurt his odds with the LGBT community, given Pence’s views on gay conversion therapy.
While speaking to a crowd in Omaha, Nebraska on Thursday, Biden said President Trump’s second-in-command, Mike Pence, was a “decent guy,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Reid Epstein.
In Omaha, Joe Biden calls Mike Pence "a decent guy, our vice president."
— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) February 28, 2019
While remarks of the speech are not yet available, Biden likely made that remark given that his successor holds the same office Biden once held when he was working alongside President Barack Obama between 2009 and 2017. Whether it was a gesture of comity toward Pence or an affinity for his policies, Biden’s remark will undoubtedly come back to haunt him should he end up declaring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As Grit Post has previously written, Mike Pence is a hardline Evangelical with fundamentalist views on LGBT rights. When he was serving as Indiana’s governor, Pence was the target of national scorn for signing a bill into law that effectively legalized discrimination against LGBT residents. But that isn’t even the most controversial thing Pence did in regard to LGBT issues.
When Pence was running for Congress in 2000, he called for Congress to only authorize funding to treat HIV/AIDS patients if there was first legislation passed to ensure no pro-LGBT groups were receiving funding, and only on the condition that Congress fund gay conversion therapy programs.
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. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
Gay conversion therapy, which California attempted to ban outright in the 2018 legislative session, attempts to “cure” gay men and lesbian women of their sexual preference, and is based in the false belief that homosexuality is a choice rather than a person’s natural proclivities. While the California bill was tabled as the bill’s sponsor was faced with questions over how his legislation would address freedom of speech or religion, California lawmakers agreed that the idea that homosexuality could be cured with therapy was “fraudulent.”
It also simply doesn’t work — as early as 1993, the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote that gay conversion therapy “can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.” A 2015 paper from the American College Physicians stated that the practice could end up actually causing significant trauma for “patients.”
“Evidence shows that the practice may actually cause emotional or physical harm to LGBT individuals, particularly adolescents or young persons,” the paper read.
Biden has not yet declared his intent to seek the presidency, but he did recently say that after consulting with his family, they encouraged him to run.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.