Pence Spox: He Never Supported Ex-Gay Torture

The New York Times reports:

Since Gov. Mike Pence was chosen as Donald J. Trump’s running mate in July, he has faced complaints from groups critical of his record on gay and transgender rights, who said he has long been an opponent of the gains made by the L.G.B.T. community in recent years.

Mr. Pence has been particularly dogged by accusations that he is a supporter of “conversion therapy,” the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been discredited by the medical establishment and denounced by gay and transgender groups.

Mr. Pence’s spokesman, Marc Lotter, denied to The Times over the weekend that the vice president-elect supports the practice, saying a past campaign statement had been misinterpreted. But L.G.B.T. groups remain skeptical, pointing to his record of opposition to gay rights as a member of Congress and as governor of Indiana and an approving reference to conversion therapy in the 2016 Republican Party platform.

A statement on an archived version of the website for Mr. Pence’s 2000 congressional campaign has been widely interpreted as signaling his support for conversion therapy. After listing his opposition to same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws that protect gay people, Mr. Pence’s website takes up the issue of the Ryan White Care Act, which provides federal funding for H.I.V./AIDS patients and was reauthorized by Congress that year:

Congress should 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. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

Mr. Pence had not addressed speculation about his support for conversion therapy until last weekend, when Mr. Lotter told The Times it was “patently false” that Mr. Pence “supported or advocated” the practice.

Mr. Lotter said the vice president-elect had been calling for federal funds to “be directed to groups that promoted safe sexual practices” during his 2000 congressional campaign, and he said it was a “mischaracterization” to see the statement as a reference to conversion therapy.