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The head of Log Cabin Republicans is responding to Donald Trump's pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate with a degree of equanimity, while a gay former Republican activist is saying it shows Trump's vision of America has no room for LGBT people.
"Trump's pick of Pence isn't especially surprising; it's the result of advice from the consultant class and a desire to appease Christian evangelicals in the GOP's base dubious of Mr. Trump's more moderate positions on things like LGBT issues," said Log Cabin president Gregory T. Angelo in an emailed response to The Advocate's request for comment. "People always vote the top of the ticket anyway."
Angelo earlier this week called the draft of the Republican platform the most anti-LGBT one ever put forth by the party. The platform includes support for repealing marriage equality, conversion therapy, so-called bathroom bills, and for passing religious freedom laws that activists call a "license to discriminate." Trump never intervened to stop any of those policy planks from being included.
Jimmy LaSalvia (left) and Gregory T. Angelo
However, Jimmy LaSalvia, cofounder and former executive director of the now-defunct gay conservative group GOProud, says the presumptive Republican presidential nominee isn't so moderate, noting that Trump pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would undo marriage equality. And choosing Pence for vice president shows Trump is willing to sell out LGBT people in order to get votes from the far right, he told The Advocate.
"Trump's choice of Pence makes it clear that his vision of America doesn't include LGBT people," said LaSalvia, who is supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton for president and is the author of No Hope: Why I Left the GOP -- and You Should Too.
When Pence was in Congress, LaSalvia had a saying: "When Mike Pence wakes up in the morning, the first thing he thinks about is, How can I stick it to the gays today?"
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for more than a decade, Pence voted against repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He also consistently opposed marriage equality.
As Indiana's governor, Pence is well-known for signing into law the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was criticized as a license for businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people and others who offended their religious sensibilities. After a national outcry, the law was amended.
"Mike Pence's career has been defined by his anti-LGBT activism," LaSalvia concluded.