Activists demand next debate moderator grill Mike Pence on his homophobia. We can’t wait to see how this turns out

Vice President Mike Pence

Activists have demanded that the next debate moderator grill Mike Pence on the Trump administration’s homophobia and transphobia, after LGBT+ rights went unmentioned during the first presidential debate.

LGBT+ issues were sidelined in the presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on Tuesday (September 29).

The messy and hostile debate amounted to 90 minutes of insults and accusations peppered with constant interruptions from the president, who refused to abide by moderator Christ Wallace’s rules.

On October 7, the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will take place, moderated by USA Today journalist Susan Page.

But activists are determined that the second debate will not overlook LGBT+ issues.

In a letter to Page, 13 LGBT+ rights groups “implored” her to address queer rights, as it would “do our nation and community a disservice to exclude these issues as a part of the conversation”.

The letter from rights groups, including Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ Victory Fund and Media Matters, said: “In the midst of this pandemic, President Trump and Vice President Pence put forward a rule limiting LGBTQ people’s access to health care by eliminating LGBTQ non-discrimination protections from the Affordable Care Act.

“Hate-fuelled violence is on the rise, and so far this year 30 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed, putting us on track for the deadliest year on record for the transgender community.

“A majority of those lost are Black and Latinx transgender women who live at the intersection of racism, misogyny, and transphobia — all of which have been fomented and exacerbated by Trump, Pence, and their allies.

“LGBTQ children are dealing with higher instances of bullying in schools, all while Secretary DeVos offers fewer methods of recourse against those bullies.”

Voters, of whom one in 10 identify as LGBT+ according to recent data from NBC, need to be aware of the anti-LGBT+ views held by Pence and the wider Trump administration, the letter insisted.

“Vice president Mike Pence and senator Kamala Harris have deeply divergent records on equality that should be highlighted for Americans… In 2016, presidential and vice-presidential debate moderators did not ask candidates a single question about LGBTQ issues across four debates.

“You have the opportunity to change that and address the issues our community faces in this trying time.”