Mike Pence to Join Conversion Therapy Advocates & Anti-LGBTQ Extremists at Values Voter Summit

by Charlotte.Clymer@hrc.org

Pence joins numerous anti-LGBTQ extremists at the annual event in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Today, HRC responded to Mike Pence’s decision to speak at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, alongside numerous anti-LGBTQ extremists, notably Elizabeth Johnston, Dr. Paul McHugh, and Dr. Sebastian “Seb” Gorka, all known for their extremist advocacy against LGBTQ people. The event’s sponsors include the American Conservative Union, the NRA, the SPLC-designated hate group Family Research Council, and the John Birch Society.

On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence is slated to speak after a panel of conversion therapy advocates and anti-LGBTQ extremists who plan to discuss “how gender ideology harms children,” according to an agenda for the so-called Values Voter Summit held annually by designated hate group Family Research Council. The panel includes Elizabeth Johnston, who has threatened violence against transgender people and promotes the dangerous and abusive practice of conversion therapy on children, and Paul McHugh, a doctor who has slurred and denied the existence of transgender people, and Seb Gorka, former advisor to Donald Trump and notable white supremacist.

"Paul McHugh, Elizabeth Johnston and others peddling this sort of junk science are doing enormous harm to LGBTQ people and LGBTQ kids. The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ is abuse and can be life-threatening, which is why a growing number of states are banning it. And the denigrating language they direct at LGBTQ people send a dangerous message — particularly to LGBTQ kids — about their equal dignity and worth,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Once again, Mike Pence is making clear that he stands with many organizations and leaders who promote hate and fear. We know those are not true American values.”

Elizabeth Johnston, who has dubbed herself the “Activist Mommy” has claimed LGBTQ groups are “sneaking into schools” to “rape the minds of children”. She believes that extending rights to, and recognizing the dignity of, LGBTQ people is a war on everyone else: “There is a war on the natural man-woman family. There is a war on our children. There is a war on all things decent, and on the image of God himself.” She has called for the deportation of entire families, mocked birth certificates for transgender people, and claimed: “Remember, Heaven has a gate, a wall, and extreme vetting!” She is a strong supporter of so-called “conversion therapy”--a practice described by medical authorities as ineffective and potentially abusive--and decried state bills banning it as “un-American”.

Dr. Paul McHugh has a history of using misleading, badly designed, and thoroughly unscientific research to attack LGBTQ people and their families, particularly transgender people, who he says “caricatures” who are “confused” and “mad”. His commentary, without scientific merit, has enabled anti-LGBTQ extremists to target LGBTQ and discriminate agianst them. McHugh’s role in serving as an expert witness for the Catholic Church in defending against claims of priest abuse was also recently detailed in the chilling Netflix documentary “The Keepers”. HRC has created a website devoted to debunking McHugh’s prolific peddling of junk science: www.hrc.org/mchughexposed.

Sebastian “Seb” Gorka is a former advisor to Donald Trump. He is also a sworn member of a far-right, “Nazi-allied” group that promotes nationalist ideology in Hungary. He was terminated as a consultant for the FBI in 2016 over Islamophobic remarks he made that were described as “over-the-top”. He claimed Trump’s attempted ban on transgender members of the military demonstrates his “warmth”, claiming that our military is not meant to reflect or represent America but “kill people and blow stuff up.”

This is nothing new for Mike Pence, who has spent his career attempting to dismantle the rights of LGBTQ people and erase them from the public square.

HRC’s comprehensive “The Real Mike Pence” campaign includes a report, microsite and series of videos that shine a spotlight on Pence’s decades-long crusade against LGBTQ equality, and inside-the-White House efforts leading the Trump-Pence administration’s attacks on LGBTQ people, including those who bravely serve our nation in the military. It lays out his long record of support for the abusive practice of so-called “conversion therapy;” his relentless pursuit of a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people; his attempts to block hate crime legislation and funding for HIV and AIDS prevention; and his efforts to undermine access to health and reproductive care essential to LGBTQ people. He also keeps busy with his extremist agenda by working to undermine science, health, transparency, education, justice and public safety.