Mike Pence hits back at ‘attacks’ on wife for teaching at anti-gay school

US Vice President Mike Pence, who was criticised by gay Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg

US Vice President Mike Pence has hit back “attacks” on his wife, Karen Pence, for teaching at a school that discriminates against gay children.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday (March 1), the Vice President defended his wife’s decision to teach at the Immanuel Christian School, which explicitly bans LGBT+ students and staff. 

The school’s website states that students can be refused admission if they support or take part in “sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity.”

Mike Pence dismisses complaints over wife’s job at anti-gay school

In his speech to CPAC, Pence said: “Freedom of religion is under attack in our country. Lately it’s become fashionable for media elites and Hollywood liberals to mock religious beliefs.

“My own family recently came under attack just because my wife Karen went back to teach art to children at a Christian school.

“Let me say before all of you: I couldn’t be more proud of my wife.”

US Vice President Mike Pence, with his wife Karen Pence, arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019.

US Vice President Mike Pence, with his wife Karen Pence, arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty)

He added: “She’s a great school teacher, and Karen Pence is a great Second Lady for the United Stares of America.”

Pence said: “It’s not about ys… it’s about  the sincerely held belief of millions of Americans who cherish their Christian faith and Christian education, and so I’ll make you a promise.

“Under this president and this administration, we will always stand with people of faith. We will always defend the freedom of religion of every American of every faith, so help us God.”

Mike Pence’s chief of staff attacked ‘perverted’ gay lifestyles

Pence’s inflammatory comments come two days after the shocking anti-LGBT record of his new chief of staff, Marc Short, came to light.

Short described gay sex as “repugnant” and blamed HIV on the “perverted lifestyles” of “sodomites,” in a 1992 column for his college newspaper discovered by The Daily Beast.

Marc Short, who was 22 at the time, wrote in the resurfaced column that gay victims of the AIDS crisis should not be considered “brave.”

He wrote: “Naturally, we feel sympathy for… all AIDS victims, but that does not mean that we glorify homosexuals’ repugnant practices of frequent anal intercourse, nor should we consider them brave for coming out of the closet.”

Pence has not commented on the revelations, though Short has sought to distance himself from his past comments.

Mike Pence has ‘extreme’ anti-LGBT record

In 2000, Pence published an election manifesto calling for HIV/AIDS prevention funding to be drained from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus,” an apparent reference to LGBT+ inclusive groups.

Pence instead called for funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” which has since led to accusations he was endorsing conversion therapy.

While Pence served as Governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017, his cuts to HIV testing and ban on needle exchanges led to the worst outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the state’s history, sparking an intervention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2018 report alleged that Pence has played a pivotal role in anti-LGBT actions by the Trump administration.

The Human Rights Campaign report looked in-depth at Pence’s record on LGBT rights as a candidate, as Governor of Indiana and as vice president, and found he has demonstrated a “consistent” approach to dismantling protections for LGBT+ people.