On Thursday evening, the vice president headlined the 40th anniversary dinner for the Concerned Women of America, an evangelical Christian group with a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ positions. Pence addressed its "Ruby Red and Black Tie Gala" at 7 p.m., a fundraising event which just so happened to be taking place at the ballroom in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Although the Concerned Women of America bills itself as a public policy women's organization, one of its key interests is opposing basic rights for LGBTQ+ individuals. The organization has fought the introduction of protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in hate crime legislation, arguing that they infringe on free speech rights. It also objected to similar inclusions in the Violence Against Women Act on the basis that the regulations created "new protections for homosexuals."
The group also opposes same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections, and anti-bullying laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth from violence, harassment, and discrimination. It even defended Uganda's notorious "Kill the Gays" bill, calling it "courageous."
If that weren't enough, Concerned Women of America CEO Penny Nance thinks LGBTQ+ activists are trying to infiltrate schools, LGBTQ+ youth are "troubled kids," homosexuality is "unnatural," and that same-sex marriages are "counterfeit."
That sounds pretty par for the course for Pence, who passed a since-repealed law as governor of Indiana allowing people of faith to refuse service to LGBTQ+ individuals and then sought to enact "religious liberty" protections in the White House. Prior to joining the Oval Office, he also lobbied for a federal amendment banning marriage equality, opposed allowing gay troops to serve openly in the military, and advocated that funding for HIV/AIDS be redirected to conversion therapy programs.
While he denies having supported orientation change efforts, Pence has not spoken out against them either. In fact, he has opposed LGBTQ+ inclusive hate crime laws because they "silence the freedom of religious leaders to speak out against homosexuality," including those who advocate in favor of conversion therapy.
Pence did not address LGBTQ+ issues on Thursday by name, but he did applaud the Trump administration for using religion to erode equality for queer and trans people.
"We've taken action to protect the conscience rights of doctors and nurses, and after years of neglect, we've restored federal enforcement of our nation's conscience laws," he said, referencing "conscience rules" allowing doctors to turn away patients if caring for them would conflict with their religious beliefs.
Pence has frequently addressed anti-LGBTQ+ groups in the past. In 2018, Trump's Second-in-Command became the first sitting vice president to address the Values Voter Summit, an annual event hosted by the Southern Poverty Law-designated hate group Family Research Council. The organization's president, Tony Perkins, has claimed pedophilia is a "homosexual problem" and likened same-sex unions to man-horse marriage. He is also an advisor to Trump.
Mike Pompeo, the current Secretary of State, is scheduled to speak with the Concerned Women of America on Friday.