Pence hailed a group that has called for criminalizing homosexuality.
Following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Sunday, "There is no place in America for acts of violence, hatred and racism."
Then, on Tuesday, Pence met with the right-wing hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Pence said it was an "honor" to appear.
ADF has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has for years pushed a hateful anti-LGBTQ agenda.
"The Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a 'homosexual agenda' will destroy Christianity and society," the center noted.
In a 2013 amicus brief filed as part of the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, ADF pushed for laws criminalizing homosexual conduct at the state level.
"Defining the criminality of certain forms of sexual conduct ... is a policy issue that has historically and properly been left to the state legislatures," the document said.
Pence did not rebuke ADF's anti-LGBTQ agenda during his speech. In fact, he voiced sympathy for their long-standing allegation that people of faith are under attack in America.
"As you all in ADF know well, we live in a time where we've seen people driving religion from the public square, and it's even become fashionable for many in the media and popular culture to mock religious belief," Pence said to loud applause.
Pence is a vocal and longtime advocate of discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. He worked with the group in 2015 when he was governor of Indiana to pass a so-called "religious freedom" law that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
ADF has also had a key role in crafting anti-LGBTQ policy in the Trump administration, including guidance on religious exemptions for people and businesses that make it easier to discriminate.
Pence's sympathetic comments come after the FBI issued a warning about the growing threat of right-wing extremism in America.
"The FBI remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence," the agency said after the El Paso attack.
At the same time, reports indicate that officials at the FBI feel Trump's sympathy for white supremacists and racists are impeding efforts to fully take on the terror threat.
Pence's appearance before ADF is another manifestation of the Trump administration's deeply held sympathy for extremism.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.