#AskTheGays: VP Debate Puts LGBTQ Equality Front and Center

by HRC Staff

Only VP debate highlights clear contrast between presidential campaigns in an election where 9.4 million LGBTQ voters will play a decisive role

HRC to launch #AskTheGays tweet-up at 7 P.M. tomorrow in advance of debate

WASHINGTON, DC -- Ahead of tomorrow’s vice presidential debate, the Human Rights Campaign is spotlighting the particularly stark contrast on LGBTQ equality between Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence -- who earned wide criticism last year for signing a discriminatory anti-LGBTQ law in Indiana that harmed Hoosiers and cost his state millions. But Pence’s “license to discriminate” bill wasn’t the first time Mike Pence has targeted LGBTQ people with political attacks. Well before his shameful anti-LGBTQ legislation last year that cost Indiana more than $60 million, Pence had established a track record that included opposing hate crimes legislation and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ backing anti-LGBTQ activists. He even supported offsetting funding for HIV prevention with funding for the abusive practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Meanwhile, Tim Kaine has advanced LGBTQ equality as Governor, Senator and now as a vice presidential candidate pushing the most aggressive platform for LGBTQ equality in U.S. history.

The contrast on display tomorrow night will be crucial to the 9.4 million LGBTQ voters who will play a pivotal role in deciding this election. The Human Rights Campaign has launched a nationwide #turnOUT GOTV campaign to mobilize LGBTQ voters and pro-equality allies in key states where the equality vote will be crucial to a Clinton-Kaine victory. In battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, the LGBTQ vote is more than double the margin of victory in the last three presidential elections. In Virginia, where tomorrow night’s debate will take place and President Obama’s 2012 margin of victory was only 150,000 votes, there are at least 190,000 LGBTQ voters.

The Human Rights Campaign will be launching an #AskTheGays tweet-up tomorrow night at 7 P.M. ET ahead of the VP debate. The hashtag first gained attention after Donald Trump bizarrely pandered to LGBTQ voters and challenged those skeptical over his anti-LGBTQ record to “ask the gays” about him.

While Donald Trump and Mike Pence have actively campaigned against LGBTQ equality, the Clinton-Kaine campaign has made it a priority from the outset. Not long after Hillary Clinton unveiled the most robust agenda for LGBTQ equality of any presidential candidate in history, she secured the earliest primary endorsement in the 36 year history of the Human Rights Campaign in Iowa. She has repeatedly spoken out on the campaign trail for the Equality Act, vowed to fight discriminatory laws like HB2 in North Carolina, pledged to end the scourge of anti-transgender violence and finally do what’s necessary to prevent the stigma and spread of HIV -- among other things.

Senator Kaine has also hit the trail with the Human Rights Campaign in recent weeks to campaign for the LGBTQ vote -- joining a debate watch party in Orlando last week and keynoting the 2016 HRC National Dinner in early September. In fact, on the same day that Tim Kaine spoke at the nearly 4,000-person Human Rights Campaign event, Mike Pence was across town courting votes from anti-LGBTQ extremists at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

“Donald Trump’s warped vision for America puts Mike Pence -- the face of modern day  discrimination -- a heartbeat away from the presidency,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The choice is crystal clear. While Tim Kaine has worked as governor of Virginia and in Congress to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, Mike Pence has built his entire career on denying LGBTQ people equal treatment under the law. Pence is nationally known for targeting Hoosiers so they could be denied service because of who they are or whom they love. We cannot allow Mike Pence and Donald Trump to ‘Take America Backward Again.’”

Here’s a summary of just how stark the difference is between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine on LGBTQ equality:

On Marriage Equality

Pence: Pence opposed the Supreme Court’s nationwide marriage equality ruling. After the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which barred legally married same-sex couple from having their marriages recognized by the federal government, was ruled unconstitutional, he urged amending the state of Indiana’s constitution to outlaw marriage equality.

Kaine: Kaine  discussed his support of marriage equality at HRC’s national dinner in September. Coming out in favor of marriage equality in 2013, Kaine said: “I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be guaranteed the full rights to the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage under the Constitution….I hope the Supreme Court will affirm that principle.”

On Non-Discrimination Protections

Pence: While in Congress, Pence voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. As governor, his “right to discriminate” bill could have allowed businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBTQ people because of who they are or whom they love. He opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” by saying it would turn the military into “a backdrop for social experimentation."

Kaine: Kaine is an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act -- federal legislation that would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under our existing civil rights laws. One of Kaine’s first actions as Virginia Governor in 2006 was to sign an executive order adding sexual orientation protections to the non-discrimination policy for state workers. He has voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).

On Transgender Equality

Pence: Opposed guidance from the Department of Education that clarifies that transgender students have a right under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to access restrooms consistent with their gender identity, saying, “The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature.”

Kaine: Kaine called for the repeal of North Carolina’s dangerous and vile HB2. He recently signed onto an amicus brief in the 2nd Circuit case, Christiansen v Omnicom Group Inc., arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kaine also expressed support for the Obama Administration’s decision to drop the outdated ban on transgender troops serving openly in the military.

On Hate Crimes

Pence: He voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, calling it a “radical social agenda.” Under Pence’s leadership, Indiana still lacks a hate crimes law that covers LGBTQ people.

Kaine: As Governor, Kaine told the Roanoke Times that, “...crimes against gays should be added to the list of hate crimes as long as the statute is on the book…”

HIV and AIDS and Conversion Therapy

Pence: Opposed funding to treat HIV unless it was offset by cuts to programs that he
claimed "...celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus." Pence instead preferred funding harmful conversion therapy programs that would seek to change "sexual behavior." Last year, Pence dragged his feet on supporting a needle exchange program in Indiana to combat an HIV outbreak related to needle-sharing among opioid drug users that was later deemed “preventable” due to his moral opposition to needle-exchange programs.

Kaine: In a speech at HRC’s 2016 National Dinner, Kaine pledged to “take on drug companies and cap out-of-pocket expenses so that people with HIV can get medication they need at a price they can afford.” He also committed to address “any stigmatization of HIV criminalization laws that still exist here and around the world.” Last week, HRC’s Noël Gordon released a powerful OpEd about how Hillary Clinton is the only choice in November, particularly since only Clinton has a plan to help combat the HIV crisis facing gay black men. Gordon noted how Pence’s failed leadership in Indiana failed to contain an HIV outbreak.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.


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