VP Mike Pence still won’t rule out new anti-LGBT executive order

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

VP Mike Pence has refused to rule out a future anti-LGBT executive order, after Donald Trump reportedly blocked plans to axe Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT workers.

Last week it was confirmed that a 2014 order signed by President Obama protecting employees of federal contractors from anti-LGBT discrimination would remain in place, despite a reported push from senior Trump advisers to axe it.

It has since been alleged that the First Family were integral in convincing President Trump not to axe the protections – with Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner said to have convinced the President to ignore his strategists on the issue.

But in a new interview with ABC, Vice President Mike Pence declined to rule out a ‘religious freedom’ order that would actively permit religious discrimination against LGBT people, following a draft executive order on the issue that was leaked from inside the White House.

Asked if he would rule out “a new executive order on religious liberty” the VP declined to do so, adding: “I think that’ll be the purview of the president to determine whether any of that’s necessary, but I will tell you for our part, the focus of this administration will continue to be to have a safer America, to have a more prosperous America, and to continue to advance the president’s agenda, both on Capitol Hill and through executive action and carry that message all across the country.”

The leaked order would protect people who discriminate based on “the belief that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman [or that] male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy at birth”.

As competing factions within the Trump administration jockey for control of the Presidency, it is unclear who within the White House drafted the proposal – but the order is remarkably similar to an anti-LGBT law signed by Pence while serving as Governor of Indiana.

Elsewhere in the interview Pence claimed that he supports the President’s decision not to axe Obama’s LGBT rights protections, despite his own overt backing for axing the protections previously.

He said: “I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration.

“I mean, he was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him.

“I think the generosity of his spirit, recognizing that in the patriot’s heart, there’s no room for prejudice is part of who this president is.”

Despite his title, Pence is now just one of several competing power centres in the Trump administration – with Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner battling for control over the President.