Pence Is Not A Mensch

Photo Source: George Howard

This week The Washington Post published a tape of Donald Trump making lewd and disgusting remarks about women.  Many are wondering if Trump will drop out of the presidential race because of the backlash. As much as I don’t want to see a Trump presidency, I certainly don’t want to see a Pence presidency either. Trading one horrible candidate for another is not the way to go.

As a 21-year resident of Indiana, I have seen the damage that Pence has done to our state. In 2015 he signed the well-known Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which allows businesses in Indiana to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers. RFRA also impacts women and minorities. 

Businesses and organizations led an outcry of outrage against this bill. Over 2,000 Hoosiers gathered at the Indiana Statehouse at a rally in protest. When Governor Pence spoke to George Stephanopolous on CNN a few days after signing RFRA, he refused to admit that RFRA would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.  At that point, Pence showed his true colors. A RFRA “fix” was eventually passed; however, it did nothing to stop the discrimination of women’s health by Pence, and it only affected the eleven municipalities in the state that have human rights ordinances.

Photo Source: Annette Gross

RFRA was not the end of Pence’s bigotry. Last year Pence issued a ban blocking aid to Syrian refugees resettling in Indiana. “The governor of Indiana believes, though without evidence, that some of these persons were sent to Syria by ISIS to engage in terrorism and now wish to infiltrate the United States in order to commit terrorist acts here,” wrote Judge Richard Posner. “No evidence of this belief has been presented, however; it is a nightmare speculation.”

Despite proof that no Syrian refugees have ever committed acts of terrorism in the United States, this lie continues to perpetuate itself. On October 8, 2016, in Greenwood, Indiana, a city south of Indianapolis, a Muslim woman from Iraq who is a proud U.S. citizen, was verbally attacked in a Starbucks for wearing a headscarf with the pattern of the American flag on it. The woman was traumatized and is now afraid to leave her home. The words of Trump may have contributed to an act such as this, but we cannot ignore Pence’s actions either.

In 2016 Governor Pence signed HEA1337 - considered one of the worst anti-abortion bills in the country. One of the pieces of this bill was that a physician could not perform an abortion because the fetus has Down syndrome or any other disability. It also would force a woman who has a miscarriage to inter or cremate the fetal remains.

There was a big outcry against this discriminatory bill. Women reacted in outrage and once again thousands stormed the Indiana statehouse to hear legislators, clergy, physicians, and women who would be impacted by this bill speak out against HEA1337. On July 7, 2016, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana, filed a request for a declaratory and injunctive relief with the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis. “The requirement that women obtain an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion, as opposed to allowing PPINK to continue its practice of providing one immediately prior to the abortion, provides no health benefit to women and serves only to place a substantial obstacle to obtaining an abortion,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “This law, therefore, is an unconstitutional undue burden on abortion access.”

Photo Source: Annette Gross

Ultimately a federal judge blocked HEA1337. From The Indy Star, “……Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said the law likely would be found unconstitutional. It would violate the U.S. Supreme Court precedents………that protect a woman’s right to choose an abortion before a fetus is viable, and the right to privacy in making that decision.”

I write about these particular issues because as dangerous as a Trump presidency would be, a Pence presidency would be just as bad, if not worse. We know that Trump is a raving lunatic. But Pence hides behind his white-bread facade, with a fake smile plastered on his face. He talks about decency and decorum. But behind that smirk is a right-wing evangelical puppet whose strings are being pulled by other right-wing evangelicals. When Pence signed RFRA (in private), he was surrounded by his right-wing cronies. One of them was Micah Clark, who is the president of the American Family Association of Indiana. The AFA is listed as a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Photo Source: JetBelly (@seamonkey237) March 29, 2015

We all agree that the way Trump speaks about women, immigrants, people of color, and other minority groups is disgusting and that he is not fit to lead our country. But Mike Pence’s ACTIONS have shown us loud and clear that this is a man who should not be allowed to hold the highest leadership position in our country. Pence’s administration has sued the federal government numerous times regarding Planned Parenthood, religious freedoms, marriage, education, and more. We cannot trust a man who will not answer “Yes” or “No” when asked if a bill he signed would discriminate against a group of people. We cannot trust a man who perpetuates lies about people who need our help. We cannot trust a man who does not believe that women should not be allowed to control their own bodies. And, we cannot trust a man who refuses to denounce his running-mate’s many lies.

Mike Pence hides behind a wall of his so-called religious faith and politeness. He is the guy you see in church on Sunday, shaking his pastor’s hand at the end of services. He is the regular guy who eats lunch on Sunday at Olive Garden with his wife and family. However, he also is the guy who looks us straight in the eye and lies.

I was a delegate to the DNC this summer. I tried to speak to as many people as possible about the dangers of Mike Pence. I have joined the PENCE MUST GO campaign to spread the word about him. I organized the two big rallies at the Indiana Statehouse to help Hoosiers come together to denounce Pence’s bills. I want to share my message to all Americans about Mike Pence.

Whether you love Hillary or not, I beg you to vote for her. You may think Hillary is terrible, but you do not realize what a Trump-Pence administration would look like. I can’t speak for Trump 100 percent, but I do know that Pence would be our worst nightmare. Ask any Hoosier - they will tell you! PENCE IS NOT A MENSCH!

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