Mike Pence’s bunny, who became an unlikely symbol of LGBT+ rights, has died

Former vice president Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence look over their pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo

Mike Pence’s bunny Marlon Bundo, who became a surprise (and unwitting) ally to the LGBT+ community, has died.

The black and white bunny became a poster-rabbit for the pushback against his owner’s anti-LGBT+ rhetoric in 2018.

He’d already found fame as BOTUS (Bunny of the United States) when he was announced as the star of a picture book written Pence’s daughter, Charlotte Pence Bond, and illustrated by then-second lady, Karen Pence.

In response, and amid backlash to Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT+ rhetoric, Marlon Bundo was cast as the gay lead in a parody book released by late night comedy host John Oliver, titled A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.

The parody told the story of Bundo falling for another bunny boy – only for a stinkbug with an uncanny resemblance to Mike Pence, who opposes same-sex marriage, to threaten their love.

Did the two bunnies live happily ever after? Readers, it was safe to say, were eager to find out – the book ended up selling 180,000 copies in the first two days, outselling the Pence family’s book in the process.

The Pence family’s pet rabbit Marlon Bundo flips a page of the children’s book about him. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

All proceeds of the book, written for “every bunny who has ever felt different”, were donated to The Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBT+ youth, and Aids United.

An audiobook version saw Jim Parsons voice the snappily-dressed Bundo, with John Lithgow as the stinkbug. RuPaul and Jesse Tyler Ferguson also featured.

Charlotte Pence Bond addressed Oliver’s book during a 2018 book tour stop at Focus on the Family, an anti-LGBT+ Christian lobbying group that lists “Understanding Homosexuality” under the “Get Help” section of its website.

“At the end of the day, it’s a good thing if we have books going to charities, especially books about bunnies and about Marlon,” Charlotte told the Denver Post. “It’s ultimately a good thing.

“I bought his book to support those charities, too.”

Second daughter Charlotte Pence (L) and second lady Karen Pence at Focus on the Family. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Mike Pence passionately opposed marriage equality, both as an Indiana governor and a congressman, as well as efforts to prohibit discrimination against LGBT+ people in the workplace.

Karen Pence, meanwhile, worked as an art teacher at a Christian school that required staffers to sign an anti-LGBT+ pledge that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Pence Bond, a reporter at the Daily Wire, confirmed the death of the Pences’ bunny on Twitter Saturday afternoon (15 January).

“Marlon, God brought you to us right when we needed you most,” she wrote.