Pence's Washington neighbors showing support for LGBT community
The VP-elect has been criticized for his positions on LGBT issues
Some Washington residents who disagree with Mike Pence’s positions on gay rights are making their values known to their new neighbor.
Until he moves into the Naval Observatory after taking office, the vice president-elect is renting a $6,000-a-month home in Chevy Chase, a swanky neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of the nation’s capital.
Some neighbors have put up rainbow flags since the Indiana governor moved in to protest what they call his anti-gay policy positions. The flag represents a symbol of pride in the LGBT community.
Roughly half-dozen pride flags are outside of homes on the block where Pence lives and neighbors say more are on the way.
“A respectful message showing, in my case, my disagreement with some of his thinking,” Ilse Heintzen told WJLA, a CNN affiliate.
“I have no idea what (the vice president elect) will think about, but I hope he will change his mind,” she added.
While some have praised Trump for his support for the LGBT community, Pence’s history of conservative positions related to gay rights have alarmed others.
The Indiana governor attracted significant national attention in March 2015 when he signed into law a measure that would allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers to protect the businesses “religious freedom.” Indiana was the first state to enact such a measure.
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said at the time.
The business community – including Apple and the NCAA – protested the move, and some companies threatened to boycott Indiana. Some faith-based organizations also protested. The Disciples of Christ church group threatened to pull their convention out of Indianapolis.
In April 2015, Pence signed a new version of the measure that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a move that infuriated many of Indiana’s social conservatives.
It was not the first time Pence was involved in significant policy issues impacting the LGBT community.
In 2014, Pence and Indiana conservatives attempted to amend Indiana’s constitution to ban same-sex marriages. But Democrats, along with traditionally right-leaning business organizations, rallied against the change.
Back in 2010, then-Congressman Pence also criticized efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the federal policy banning openly gay Americans from serving in the military.
“I would still have a problem with it because there’s no question, to mainstream homosexuality within active duty military would have an impact on unit cohesion would have an impact on recruitment, an impact on readiness, that’s been established and written about and chronicled for many many years,” he told MSNBC.
And during his 2000 congressional run, Pence had a statement on his website that suggested support for conversion therapy, a controversial attempt to change people’s sexual orientation that has been dismissed and criticized by major health organizations.
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” Pence’s website said.
Pence’s spokesman recently told The New York Times that it is “patently false” that the vice president-elect supports conversion therapy.
More recently, Pence pushed back on guidelines issued by President Barack Obama’s administration directing school districts to allow students to use the bathroom reserved for the gender in which they identify.
Along with many other conservatives, Pence opposed Obama’s directive and said it was a state issue.
“The federal government has not business getting involved in issues of this nature,” Pence said in a statement in May. “I am confident that parents, teachers and administrators will continue to resolve these matters without federal mandates and in a manner that reflects the common sense and compassion of our state.”