Human Rights Campaign Denounces Pence’s 2024 White House Bid, Pledges to Defeat Presidential Candidate with the Longest Record of Stoking Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate

by Cullen Peele

Mike Pence has spent decades targeting the dignity and existence of LGBTQ+ people as his candidacy threatens hard-won equality and poses a risk to the rights of women, people of color, and a more equitable, democratic America

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign — America’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization — released the following statement in response to today’s news that Former Vice President Mike Pence has officially filed his papers to run for President in 2024:

In the past two presidential elections, the majority of American people rejected the Trump-Pence ticket and the hateful, theocratic extremism associated with MAGA leadership. Mike Pence’s vision for the country is dangerously out of step with the average American’s views on freedom and equality, and his potential presidency would create devastating consequences for the safety of the LGBTQ+ community and the ability of our people to live as full members of society. At a time when far-right groups are influencing horrific legislation in state legislatures like never before, we will need to ensure that Pence, who has deep ties to the likes of Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family, will never replicate the same hate from the most powerful position in the country.”

The Human Rights Campaign will work to mobilize the 62 million ‘Equality Voters’ — for whom LGBTQ+ equality is a make-or-break issue — to stand together in opposition to Pence’s candidacy, and to keep the previous administration’s destructive hate and bigotry forever a thing of the past.”

Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President

A polling memo released recently by the Human Rights Campaign highlights a series of recent national polls revealing that Americans are growing increasingly opposed to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation spearheaded by DeSantis and other extremist lawmakers, finding the push excessive and nothing more than “political theater.”

  • 64% of all likely voters think there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” — including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans [source].

  • Two recent national surveys report opposition to bans on gender affirming care — one indicating 54% opposition [source] and the other indicating 53% opposition [source].

  • Nearly six in 10 (58%) Americans oppose laws that would restrict drag shows or performances in their state, while 39% support legislation to restrict these performances. While 61% of Republicans are in favor of these bans, 73% of Democrats and 57% of Independents oppose the proposed limitations [source].

  • Majorities disapprove of banning LGBTQ+ content in schools — nearly 60% of Americans believe middle school libraries should include materials related to “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” [source].

Pence’s History of Courting Hate

As Vice President:

  • Focus On The Family spokesman said Pence was the reason most Evangelicals supported Trump. Focus on the Family is classified as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and has been linked to the introduction of discriminatory bills throughout the country.

  • Pence also spoke at an event hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, another SPLC-classified hate group. At the event, Pence defended his wife’s decision to teach at a school that discriminates against LGBTQ students and teachers.

  • Pence and Trump hosted a dinner for anti-LGBTQ advocates. Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, evangelist Franklin Graham, Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, South Carolina televangelist Mark Burns, Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed, and others were in attendance.

  • In 2017, reports surfaced that then-President Trump joked about Mike Pence wanting to execute gay people, saying “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

As Governor of Indiana:

  • March 2015: Pence signed religious freedom bill into law in Indiana, costing Indiana more than $60M in economic damage. When this was signed however, Pence was surrounded by anti-equality leaders with track records of opposing marriage equality, supporting conversion therapy, and criminalizing homosexuality while spreading rumors that priests would be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.

  • Pence said he opposed adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes. Pence stated this during a 2015 ABC News interview.

  • Pence challenged a court ruling that struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. In June 2014, a federal judge struck down Indiana’s law that banned same-sex marriage.

  • Pence Was Disappointed In Supreme Court Ruling On Marriage Equality. Pence said “I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman, and I am disappointed that the Supreme Court failed to recognize the historic role of the states in setting marriage policy in this country."

In Congress:

  • Pence opposed repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because he worried it would hurt morale and unit cohesion. Pence went on the record saying "It seems to me to be a moment when we are using the American military to enact a liberal political agenda.” He also said a Pentagon Study that recommended repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was not as convincing as a conversation he had in a mess hall with a dozen soldiers.

  • Pence voted against The Employee Non-Discrimination Act. The bill would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Pence vigorously opposed hate crimes protections based on gender identity. He opposed a 2009 bill to expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender identity. He also said there was no evidence of such crimes occurring.

  • Pence also called on President Bush to veto hate crimes laws because it criminalized “religious thought.” He also said hate crime laws would put pastors and religious broadcasters at risk for abetting a crime.

  • Mike Pence introduced legislation to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood three legislative sessions in a row. He also falsely claimed that abortions increased the risk of breast cancer.

*During his 12 years in Congress, Pence saw zero legislative achievements, where of the 90 bills and resolutions he introduced, none became law.*

Other Anti-LGBTQ+ Ties and Rhetoric:

  • Mike Pence has long advocated abstinence-only education as the solution to the prevention of HIV and AIDS and his cuts to public health funding as Governor of Indiana helped fuel the worst outbreak of HIV and AIDS in the state’s history.

  • Pence signaled support for “Conversion Therapy” on campaign website when running for Congress in 2000. Pence also supported diverting funds from the Ryan White Care Act to programs for those “Seeking To Change Their Sexual Behavior.”

  • Pence opposed State Department training that required officials to advocate for LGBTQ rights. He also said requiring State Department training, reporting and advocacy for laws regarding LGBTQ+ people are at odds with American values.

HRC’s Commitment to Mobilizing Equality Voters

Equality Voters are a voting bloc of demographically and geographically diverse Americans who are united by the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality. Equality Voters are younger, more racially diverse, and more female than the general electorate, they recognize and trust the HRC brand, and they are more likely to identify with issue-specific organizations than candidates or political parties.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes (

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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