Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen have recently come under fire after Karen Pence accepted a job at a private Christian elementary school that bans LGBTQ students from attending. The Pence’s views on gay marriage, and LGBTQ+ people has a whole, have always been rather unaccepting. As governor of Indiana, Vice President Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which could be used by people to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the basis of religion. However, this latest proof of their intolerance is simply unacceptable.
As vice president and second lady, the Pences have a responsibility to all Americans. Being blatantly unaccepting of all LGBTQ+ Americans is not very becoming of the office, and in this day and age should not be tolerated. This kind of bigotry is very harmful to people who already likely feel like outsiders.
Actress Ellen Page, who identifies as gay, went on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Jan. 31 and argued that the Pence’s beliefs might contribute to more intolerance and prejudice towards gay individuals. This is an important point to raise because people (especially impressionable young people) see that the Vice President is prejudiced against the gay community, they may see these beliefs as acceptable. As one of the leaders of the country, Pence has a responsibility to make sure that no groups are being unfairly discriminated against. Unfortunately, he has failed miserably at this.
When confronted with criticism after the second lady took her position at the elementary school, Pence responded with outrage. He told Lauren Ashburn from the TV network EWTN that, “criticism of Christian education in America should stop”. The fact that Pence justifies his hatred with religion is infuriating, as it teaches Americans that excluding a group of people is okay if you are religious. It is dangerous rhetoric and should not be coming from the vice president. LGBTQ+ youth are very likely to feel excluded and may even be suicidal; seeing that the vice president does not accept them for who they are will not help them at all. As a nation we should be completely inclusive of the gay community and not hide hate under the banner of religion. Pence should be ashamed of his history of being unsupportive of the gay community, and Karen Pence should also be ashamed of working at a school that excludes students for a reason they have no control over.
The fact that the vice president and the second lady are so bigoted towards the LGBTQ+ community should motivate everyone here at UConn to be warmer to them as a result. Show the LGBTQ+ community that despite a US leader being hateful towards them, they are still accepted for who they are no matter what. Luckily, UConn does not exclude people because of their sexuality. If any university did in fact do this, it would most likely make national news, so why aren’t more people outraged by Karen Pence working for a school that does exactly this?
Ben Crnic is a contributor for the The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.