Joe Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that California Senator Kamala Harris will be his running mate in the 2020 Presidential Election against incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Harris is the first woman of color to be the Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate, and GLAAD highlighted her LGBTQ record. Harris and Pence will face off in a Vice Presidential debate on October 7 at 9pm ET.
As California District Attorney, Harris established an LGBTQ hate crimes unit. As Attorney General, she refused to defend California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Harris later officiated at the wedding of Kris Perry and Sandra Stier, the plaintiffs who filed to overturn Prop 8. At the LGBTQ Presidential Forum last September, co-sponsored by GLAAD, Harris discussed the policy she was asked to defend as Attorney General, that prevented inmates from receiving gender-affirming treatments and surgeries. Harris’ presidential campaign included a platform for LGBTQ Americans focused on three areas: repealing Trump’s anti-LGBTQ orders; ensuring equality; and centering transgender issues. Harris introduced a bill in the Senate to ban the use of the gay/trans panic defense, fought for LGBTQ Americans to be counted in the census and called for an investigation into the death of immigrant Roxsana Hernández, who died in ICE custody.
“Sen. Harris is a proven fighter for equality, safety and justice for all, and she should now continue making LGBTQ acceptance a priority in her history-making run alongside Joe Biden,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Her record stands in stark contrast to that of Mike Pence and the Trump Administration, who have relentlessly targeted LGBTQ people – 168 attacks in policy and rhetoric since taking office, according to GLAAD’s ongoing research – and the number goes up every week.”
If elected, Harris’ record would serve in direct opposition to Pence’s LGBTQ record as vice president. In his time as Trump’s vice president, Pence has made countless, individual attacks on the LGBTQ community, as tracked through GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project, while also aligning himself with an administration that seeks to minimize the experiences of LGBTQ people.
Pence has stood by Trump’s side as he: enforced the transgender military ban; revoked healthcare protections for transgender Americans; suspended the DACA program, which affected more than 30,000 LGBTQ DREAMers; fired the White House Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; upheld religious exemptions; and the more than 168 other attacks in rhetoric and policy.
Pence’s anti-LGBTQ agenda predates his vice presidential stint:
- As governor of Indiana, Pence earned national notoriety for signing a so-called “religious freedom” bill that religious conservatives in his state (many of whom Pence invited to attend the private bill signing) championed for the purposes of allowing business owners the right to refuse service to LGBTQ customers. After outcry and boycotts, Pence was forced to sign an amended version that made it clear the law cannot be used to discrimination on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- He first ran for Congress on a platform that called on lawmakers to “oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage,” to “oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘ and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities,” and to “support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.” Pence called on these federal dollars to instead be “directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
- He worried that LGBTQ-inclusive hate crime legislation would “silence” groups that promote so-called conversion therapy: “Finally, pro-homosexual activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign have stated their belief that an ad campaign by pro-family groups showing that many former homosexual people had found happiness in a heterosexual lifestyle, contributed to the tragic 1998 murder of homosexual college student Matthew Shepard. There is no evidence that his killers even knew about the ads, and Shepard’s killers told ABC’s 20/20 that they were motivated by money and drugs. However, the danger here is that people use a hate crimes bill to silence the freedom of religious leaders to speak out against homosexuality.”