Mike Pence's record on LGBT rights is sordid, to say the least. He's alluded that gay marriage would bring about "societal collapse," opposed a law protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, and argued against the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. While serving as Indiana governor, Pence signed into law the highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that opponents said could worsen discrimination against the LGBT community. He also rejected the Obama administration's directive to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their gender identity.
Now that Pence is vice president-elect, many fear that the strides in LGBT rights under President Obama's terms will be undone over the next four years. In anticipation for his residency at Number One Observatory Circle, Pence and his family are renting a house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, until January. And his new neighbors are welcoming them to their temporary home with a warm display of solidarity with the LGBT community— right on their doorsteps.
Pence's neighbors are putting up pride flags outside their homes, all over the streets of Chevy Chase.
Some TV news reporters tweeted photos of the flags hanging from windows or rooftops, and said that residents tell them there may be more to come.
Isle Heintzen, who will be living on the same block as Pence, told local new station WJLA that hanging the pride flag was "a respectful message showing, in my case, my disagreement with some of his thinking."
Heintzen told WJLA that she hopes Pence will change his mind on LGBT issues. If nothing else, the residents' move could remind him that his views on LGBT rights are in the (dwindling) minority. Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center published a report that showed 55 percent of Americans support marriage equality today.
That issue may be a foregone conclusion considering the Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage last year, but it shows how quickly attitudes on sexuality and sexual identity can change. In 2001, 57 percent of Americans opposed gay marriage, and that number decreased steadily over a decade and a half at a rate no one could have predicted.
"In the United States what has been remarkable is the rapidity with which the marriage equality movement changed the political landscape and hearts and minds and resulted in actual changes in law," Obama said this year in London. "It's probably been the fastest set of changes that, in terms of the social movement, that I've seen."
Perhaps Pence, too, will come around.
View related content:
Cover image via Shutterstock.