Karen and Mike Pence ‘are not’ anti-LGBT, his brother says

Greg Pence is the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence and has denied he or Karen Pence are anti-LGBT.

Vice President Mike Pence’s sibling Greg Pence has claimed his brother and his sister-in-law Karen Pence “are not” anti-LGBT.

Indiana Congressman Pence, who was elected to the House of Representative in the November midterm elections, was sidestepped by a TMZ reporter who asked him about the second lady’s decision to return to teach at the Immanuel Christian School, an institution that discriminates against LGBT+ students and staff.

Asked to reassure the American public that Karen and Mike Pence are not anti-LGBT, Congressman Pence replied: “My brother and sister-in-law are not.”

Is Mike Pence anti-LGBT?

The answer is at odds with Vice President Pence’s political record of opposing LGBT+ protections from discrimination, largely in view of his support for religious freedoms.

The vice president also has a shady record when it comes to supporting HIV patients.

While running for Congress in 2000, he proposed to block funding for “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus”—an apparent reference to LGBT+ groups—and direct resources instead to “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour”—a position that has since won Pence the reputation of supporting the practice known as gay conversion therapy.

In 2016, his spokesperson claimed the statement was misunderstood, as Pence simply meant to support groups promoting “safe sexual practices.”

In 2018, Pence failed to mention LGBT+ people or homophobia during a speech for World AIDS Day.

Is Karen Pence anti-LGBT?

Karen Pence’s views on LGBT+ rights are less well-documented. One instance of anti-LGBT activism was reported in a 2017 profile of the second lady published in The Washington Post.

The newspaper recovered a 1991 letter written by Karen Pence—then an art teacher—to the editor of the Indianapolis Star complaining about an article in the publication’s Children’s Express section that, she claimed, “encourage[d] children to think they’re gay or lesbian if they have a close relationship with a child of the same sex” or admire a teacher of the same gender.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence.

Karen Pence has campaigned for anti-LGBT candidates. (Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty)

“I only pray that most parents were able to intercept your article before their children were encouraged to call the Gay/Lesbian Youth Hotline, which encourages them to ‘accept their homosexuality’ instead of reassuring them that they are not,” she wrote in the letter.

Whether her views on homosexuality have evolved since is unclear. Queer Eye star Karamo Brown said he met the second lady at the White House in June 2018, and that they discussed art and LGBT+ issues.

Karen Pence has however campaigned for candidates with staunchly anti-LGBT views. She also previously worked at the Immanuel Christian School for 12 years, so presumably she was at least aware, if not supportive, of the school’s anti-LGBT policies.

The Trevor Project is donating the school 100 copies of LGBT children’s book

Pence’s daughter Charlotte also studied at the school, according to Immanuel Christian School’s website.

Karen and Charlotte Pence visited the school earlier this month to present Marlon Bundo’s, A Day In The Life of the Vice President, a children’s book inspired by the family pet rabbit, written by Charlotte and illustrated by Karen.

The book was famously spoofed by comedian and TV host John Oliver, who wrote his own versionA Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, with a pro-LGBT twist—Marlon is gay.

The Trevor Project, a group dedicated to supporting the mental health of LGBT+ people, announced on Thursday (January 17) it would send 100 copies of the book to the school.

“We know that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth from rejecting families are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. We hope Immanuel Christian School will adopt policies of inclusion for LGBTQ young people that make them feel safe, accepted, and loved,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project is sending 100 copies of the Marlon Bundo book to the anti-LGBT school.

The Trevor Project is sending 100 copies of the parody of Charlotte and Karen Pence’s book to the school that enforces anti-LGBT policies.

The group is also working together with Luke Hartman, an alumnus of the school, who is now an openly gay man.

“As an alumnus of Immanuel Christian School, I am a living example that intolerance, both in policy and rhetoric, are harmful to the mental wellness and development of LGBTQ students, who are desperately looking for ways to fit in,” Hartman said.

He added: “The silent and spoken messages of rejection that are constantly felt by LGBTQ students directly impact the relationship they have with their faith, education, and relationships with family and friends—ultimately resulting in a feeling of being less than when compared to their straight and cisgender peers.”