Mike Pence and Scott Walker’s Politically Toxic, Anti-LGBTQ Agenda is Wrong for Wisconsin

HRC is highlighting the anti-LGBTQ records of Vice President Mike Pence and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who are scheduled to campaign together today in Eau Claire. With deeply disturbing records undermining equality and peddling extremist ideologies, Pence and Walker both have made virulent anti-LGBTQ activism a cornerstone of their political careers, and remain out of touch with a majority of Wisconsin voters, who overwhelmingly support LGBTQ equality. 

“Mike Pence and Scott Walker’s extremist, discriminatory agendas pose a threat to Wisconsin and the nation,” said HRC Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout. “From their opposition to marriage equality to their efforts to license discrimination against LGBTQ people, they do not represent Wisconsin values and our state’s more than 560,000 Equality Voters. With less than 30 days until the crucial midterm elections, HRC is mobilizing its hundreds of thousands of members and supporters in Wisconsin to reject the politics of hate and elect a pro-equality Governor in November.”

Here’s a snapshot of how Pence and Walker have undermined LGBTQ equality:

  • Long history of opposing marriage equality: Walker supported Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, vetoed a bill to give domestic partner benefits to workers and tried to kill a domestic partner registry. While in Congress, Pence proposed a constitutional amendment that would have imposed a federal ban on marriage in every state.
  • Support banning qualified transgender people from serving in the military: Pence is a lead architect of the effort to ban transgender troops, has rallied anti-equality leaders to support it and, with his staff, lobbied Congress to pass an amendment banning transition-related care for transgender servicemembers. Walker has said he “wouldn’t change” the Trump-Pence  ban on transgender service members.
  • Support a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people: In 2015, Pence’s bigotry received national attention when he signed a bill that could have given businesses, organizations, and individuals a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, and health care, as well as in access to services almost anywhere in the public square. Though the effort prompted widespread condemnation from both sides of the political aisle, Walker expressed support for the “principle” of Pence’s attempt to legalize discrimination.
  • Long history of opposing access to affordable health care: During his time in Congress, Pence was a leading voice opposing passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and voted to repeal the ACA —also known as Obamacare— in part or in full, more than 30 times. He also signed one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws which was later blocked by a federal judge and in 2017, he cast a tie-breaking vote to strip protections for reproductive health care. As governor, Walker rejected Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and also supported repeal of the entire law, which could have stripped health care from millions of Wisconsinites, including the 2.4 million Wisconsin residents with a pre-existing condition.

HRC’s comprehensive “The Real Mike Pence” campaign includes a report, microsite and series of videos that shine a spotlight on Pence’s decades-long crusade against LGBTQ equality, and inside-the-White House efforts leading the Trump-Pence administration’s attacks on LGBTQ people, including those who bravely serve our nation in the military. It lays out his long record of support for the abusive practice of so-called “conversion therapy;” his relentless pursuit of a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people; his attempts to block hate crime legislation and funding for HIV and AIDS prevention; and his efforts to undermine access to health and reproductive care essential to LGBTQ people. He also keeps busy with his extremist agenda by working to undermine science, health, transparency, education, justice and public safety.

In Wisconsin, HRC has identified more than 560,000 million “Equality Voters” — voters who support LGBTQ-inclusive policies. HRC has prioritized investments and organizing in Wisconsin in the 2018 cycle, and has staff and resources on the ground in the state as part of the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history.

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HRC Announces Historic Slate of Pro-Equality Endorsements in Arizona State Legislature

HRC announced its endorsement of a record 39 pro-equality candidates in the Arizona State Legislature. 

“While anti-equality politicians from the State House to the White House are hell-bent on dragging Arizona backwards, HRC’s endorsed candidates are fighting to ensure every Arizonan has a fair shot,” said HRC Arizona State Director Justin Unga. “Being LGBTQ should never be an impediment to success, and a pro-equality majority in our State Capitol means LGBTQ Arizonans can finally stop battling policies that harm us and start working toward reforms that help us. That’s why HRC is working harder than ever to turn out the vote for Arizona candidates who will champion equality.”

In the Arizona State Senate, HRC has endorsed Jo Craycraft for Senate District 1; Andrea Dalessandro for re-election to Senate District 2; Sally Ann Gonzales for re-election to Senate District 3; Lisa Otondo for re-election to Senate District 4; Wade Carlisle for Senate District 6; Jamescita Peshlakai for re-election to Senate District 7; Victoria Steele for Senate District 9; Steve Weichert for Senate District 17; Sean Bowie for re-election to Senate District 18; Lupe Contreras for re-election to Senate District 19; Douglas Ervin for Senate District 20; Daria Lohman for Senate District 23; Lela Alston for Senate District 24;  Juan Mendez for re-election to Senate District 26; Rebecca Rios for Senate District 27; Martin Quezada for re-election Senate District 29; and Tony Navarrete for Senate District 30.

In the Arizona State House, HRC has endorsed Rosanna Gabaldon and Daniel Hernandez for re-election to House District 2; Andres Cano and Alma Hernandez for House District 3; Charlene Fernandez and Geraldine Peten for re-election to House District 4; Randall Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley for re-election to House District 9; Hollace Lyon for House District 11; Mitzi Epstein for re-election to House District 18; Jennifer Jermaine for House District 18; Diego Espinoza for re-election to House District 19; Hazel Chandler and Chris Gilfillan for House District 20; Athena Salman and Isela Blanc for re-election to House District 26; Reginald Bolding for re-election to House District 27; Kelli Butler for re-election to House District 28; Aaron Lieberman for House District 28; Cesar Chavez and Richard Andrade for re-election to House District 29; and Robert Meza for House District 30. 

Arizona is one of 30 states in the country that lacks explicit state-level protections for all LGBTQ people. Both chambers have so far failed to show the leadership needed to pass non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year, four lawmakers — Rep. Daniel Hernandez, (D-Tucson), Rep. César Chávez (D-Phoenix),  Rep. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete (D-Phoenix), and Sen. Robert Meza (D-Phoenix) — created the state’s first-ever LGBTQ caucus at the State Capitol, vowing to harness the collective power of the LGBTQ community and work to move equality forward.

In Arizona, HRC has identified more than 800,000 voters as likely “Equality Voters,” meaning they are strong supporters of progressive LGBTQ policies including marriage equality, equitable family law, and laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC has prioritized investments and organizing in Arizona in the 2018 cycle, and has staff and resources on the ground in the state as part of the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history.


Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC (www.hrc.org). Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s agent or committee.

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Koch Brothers Network Continues to Pour Millions Targeting Pro-Equality Champion Tammy Baldwin

HRC responded to the Koch brothers’ latest efforts to influence an election by pouring an additional $1 million of out-of-state money in an attempt to defeat LGBTQ champion Senator Tammy Baldwin in her re-election bid. Senator Baldwin has been the top target of big money special interest groups this election cycle, who have already spent upwards of $10 million to oust her — more than four times what has been spent against her Democratic colleagues.

“Big powerful special interests groups and right-wing out-of-state billionaires have set their eyes on Tammy Baldwin and opened their checkbooks in an effort to defeat her, setting record after record with their barrage of unprecedented spending and attack ads in our state,” said HRC Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout. “As two anti-LGBTQ extremists, who have pledged to double down on the Trump Pence administration’s discriminatory agenda duke it out for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, the people of Wisconsin know that Senator Baldwin will continue to stand up to special interests and fight for all Wisconsin families. That’s why HRC is on the ground working hard to ensure that every day Wisconsinites have a voice in this election and turn out for equality, despite these attempts by out-of-state billionaires to decide who will represent us.”

The Koch brothers and their affiliated groups have already unleashed more than $4 million dollars in attacks against Senator Baldwin, labelling her defeat one of their top priorities this cycle. Groups backed by out-of-state anti-equality mega donor Richard Uihlein, who supported disgraced Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore throughout his entire campaign last year despite the appalling allegations against Moore, have also already spent more than $5 million on their efforts to defeat Senator Baldwin. Uihlein has a long history of backing far right political candidates and organizations that have been identified as anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

HRC is proud to support Senator Baldwin for re-election. She is the first openly LGBTQ U.S. senator and the first woman elected to the chamber from Wisconsin. Throughout her public service, she has been a pioneer for equality as a leader in the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a champion for federal hate crimes protections, and a primary sponsor of the Equality Act. In addition to Baldwin’s strong civil rights record, she has been a voice for Wisconsin’s working people, leading the fight for quality, affordable health care access and an economy that works for everyone.

Anti-equality candidates Kevin Nicholson and Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir, who has been endorsed by the state Republican party, are both seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Baldwin. Vukmir has consistently voted against pro-equality legislation and for anti-LGBTQ legislation, derailing efforts to add protections for LGBTQ students in a state anti-bullying bill and supporting a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Nicholson backed the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military and has received significant funding and support from opponents of equality, including Uihlein.

In Wisconsin, HRC has identified more half a million “Equality Voters” — voters who support LGBTQ-inclusive policies including marriage equality, equitable family law, and laws that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC has prioritized investments and organizing in Wisconsin in the 2018 cycle, and has already put staff and resources on the ground in the state. Last July, HRC announced a coast-to-coast campaign called HRC Rising, which represents the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC. Not authorized by any campaign or candidate.

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Reading, PA Becomes Latest Municipality to Protect Youth from “Conversion Therapy”

Today, HRC praised the Reading, Pennsylvania City Council for unanimously passing a measure to protect LGBTQ youth from “conversion therapy.” The ordinance prohibits licensed medical and mental health professionals from engaging in the dangerous and discredited practice upon minors within city limits. Reading is the fourth Pennsylvania city to pass such a measure following Allentown, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy which we know doesn’t work,” said HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “This victory would not have been possible without the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, who pushed for the council’s consideration and worked tirelessly toward passage of the ordinance. We remain committed to working with our partners in Pennsylvania and across the nation to ensure that this junk science is banned in every jurisdiction.”

“LGBT youth in the City of Reading achieved a major victory tonight with Reading City Council’s vote to ban unscientific conversion therapy,” said Adrian Shanker, Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “LGBT youth are fine, just the way they are, and Reading is to be applauded for being on the leading-edge when it comes to protecting LGBT youth from this harmful quackery.”

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of dangerous practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured — a theory that has been rejected for decades by every major medical and mental health organization.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

In addition to cities in Pennsylvania, a growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities in Ohio and Florida, have enacted similar crucial protections. Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

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Equality Act Reaches 100 Corporate Cosponsors

Today, HRC announced it had recruited 104 top businesses — employing more than 5.8 million people — as corporate cosponsors on the Equality Act. By joining HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, these companies have stepped up to support full federal equality for LGBTQ people through the Equality Act, landmark federal legislation that would provide the same basic nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people as other protected groups under federal law.

“The more than 100 businesses that have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act are sending a loud and clear message that the time has come for full federal equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This is a milestone in corporate support for the Equality Act, and we urge Congress to listen to this growing chorus of American businesses and protect all LGBTQ people from discrimination.”

“At Cargill, one of our guiding principles is that we treat people with dignity and respect.  Everyday around the world our employees go to work to deliver on our noble purpose of being the  leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way,” said Cargill Chief Diversity Officer Willard McCloud. “To do so, we believe it’s critically important that those very same employees and their families feel safe and affirmed, not only at work, but in the communities in which they live, shop, and send their children to school.  Cargill’s support of the Equality Act is fundamental to ensuring that all of our employees feel as safe in their communities as they do in our offices, and are not discriminated against in housing, access to credit, employment or other opportunities.”

“As the first company to publicly support passage of the federal Equality Act in the United States, we recognize the fight for equality is far from over,” said Cory Valente Global Leader for the LGBTQ and allies Employee Resource Group at Dow Chemical. “No one should be fired, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are. Supporting inclusion and equality is the right thing to do – for business and for society.”

Launched in March 2016, HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act includes companies with operations in all 50 states, headquarters spanning 23 states, and a collective revenue of $2.6 trillion. In total, these companies employ more than 5.8 million people across the United States.

The Equality Act creates clear, consistent protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment ensuring that LGBTQ employees are hired, fired, and promoted based solely on their performance. In addition, the bill provides protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people in housing, education, credit and jury service. It would also prohibit discrimination in public accommodations and federal funding on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. Today, in 31 states, LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who they are.

First introduced in 2015 by Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) and by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), the Equality Act is currently co-sponsored by 241 members of Congress.

The overwhelming majority of Americans across the political spectrum support full federal equality for LGBTQ people. Polling released last year by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that support for a bill like the Equality Act topped 70 percent nationally, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. PRRI’s groundbreaking survey included 42,000 interviews in 50 states and found majority support for the Equality Act in all 50 states.

Major corporations in the HRC Business Coalition for the Equality Act include Abercrombie & Fitch Co.; Accenture; Adobe Systems Inc.; Advanced Micro Devices Inc.; Airbnb Inc.; Alcoa Inc.; Amazon.com Inc.; American Airlines; American Eagle Outfitters; American Express Global Business Travel; Apple Inc.; Arconic; Ascena Retail Group Inc.; Automatic Data Processing Inc.; Bain & Co. Inc.; Bank of America; Best Buy Co. Inc.; Biogen; Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corp.; Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.; Boston Scientific Corp.; Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.; Brown-Forman Corp.; CA Technologies Inc.; Caesars Entertainment Corp.; Capital One Financial Corp.; Cardinal Health Inc.; Cargill Inc.; Chevron Corp.; Choice Hotels International Inc.; Cisco Systems Inc.; The Coca-Cola Co.; Corning Inc.; Cox Enterprises Inc.; CVS Health Corp.; Darden Restaurants Inc.; Delhaize America Inc.; Diageo North America; The Dow Chemical Co.; Dropbox Inc.; E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DuPont); eBay Inc.; EMC Corp.; Facebook Inc.; Gap Inc.; General Electric Co.; General Mills Inc.; Google Inc.; HERE North America LLC; The Hershey Company; Hewlett Packard Enterprises; Hilton Inc.; HP Inc.; HSN Inc.; Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP; Hyatt Hotels Corp.; IBM Corp.; Intel Corp.; InterContinental Hotels Group Americas; Johnson & Johnson; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Kaiser Permanente; Kellogg Co.; Kenneth Cole Productions; Levi Strauss & Co.; Macy’s Inc.; Marriott International Inc.; MasterCard Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; Monsanto Co.; Moody’s Corp.; Nationwide; Navigant Consulting Inc.; Nike Inc.; Northrop Grumman Corp.; Office Depot Inc.; Oracle Corp.; Orbitz Worldwide Inc.; Paul Hastings LLP; PepsiCo Inc.; Procter & Gamble Co.; Pure Storage Inc.; Qualcomm Inc.; Replacements Ltd.; S&P Global Inc.; Salesforce; SAP America Inc.; Sodexo Inc.; Symantec Corp.; Synchrony Financial; T-Mobile USA Inc.; Target Corp.; Tech Data Corp.; TIAA; Twitter Inc.; Uber Technologies Inc; Under Armour Inc; Unilever; Warby Parker; WeddingWire Inc.; Whirlpool Corporation; Williams-Sonoma Inc.; and Xerox Corp.

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