US: Searching for clarity on Mike Pence's stance on gay conversion therapy

WASHINGTON — What is Vice President Mike Pence's position on the discredited practice of trying to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation through “conversion therapy”?

It's an issue that has been debated in news articles, Twitter and television interviews in recent days in a high-profile back-and-forth between Pence and gay Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon — a spat that included an unusual pushback from Pence, whose long record of being on the opposite side of issues important to the gay and lesbian community is otherwise undisputed.

While Pence's office says he's been "abundantly clear" that he's never supported conversion therapy, the current debate centers on a nearly two-decade-old paragraph from the website of Pence’s 2000 campaign during his first successful bid for Congress.

Although the paragraph doesn’t use the words “conversion therapy,” gay rights groups say it’s language that both supporters and opponents of the practice would recognize as a clear reference.

Here's what the campaign statement said in part: "Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said the statement uses a euphemism for conversion therapy.

Plus, the meaning is clear in the context of Pence’s overall record, argues JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.

“Mike Pence has spent his entire career figuring out ways to discriminate against our community,” Winterhof said. “And if Mike Pence and his folks are asking the LGBTQ community and our allies to trust that he didn’t want to figure out another way to discriminate against us, our response to that is: `Hell no.’” Read more via IndyStar