Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence wanted to invest in gay conversion therapy as a strategy to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. While he as in Congress, Pence opposed programs designed to help HIV/AIDS patients such as needle exchanges and promoted federally funded conversion therapy.
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” Pence’s campaign website said in 2000. Pence has been a vocal critic of Planned Parenthood, moving to cut its budget severely and banned needle exchanges for addicts in Indiana.
Pence also disapproved of HIV/AIDS activists speaking at the 1996 Republican national Convention. “An endless line of pro-choice women, AIDS activists and proponents of affirmative action may have stuck a chord with the Washington press corps. They bombed, however, in Peoria,” Pence wrote at the time.
While governor of Indiana, Pence introduced a law that allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT people. The move sparked national outrage and an economic boycott of the state by several major corporations. Pence initially defended the law but ended up having to change tack. The Indiana press rounded on Pence and his approval ratings plummeted.
Now it appears Pence wanted to spend federal money to cure homosexuality. There is a strong implication in his proposal that LGBT people who contract HIV/AIDS are somehow responsible, rather than being victims. This is consistent with Pence’s criticism of Republican attempts to embrace the fight against the disease.