Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) will address a far-right anti-LGBTQ group in his first speech since leaving office. The organization has close ties to hate groups.
Pence has a long history of associating with religious right organizations that promote far-right ideology and was hired by the Heritage Foundation, an anti-LGBTQ think tank. The organization had a huge presence in the Trump administration, manipulating policies from the behind-the-scenes.
Palmetto Family Council, a radical group that opposes marriage equality because, they say, LGBTQ people how “evidence of disfunction,” is the South Carolina affiliate of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Focus on the Family. The group led the push for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and the state’s Attorney General led the effort for the organization.
The group also opposes vaccinations against sexually transmitted infections while also opposing sex education efforts. Instead, it insists that if religious courses were taught and Christian iconography installed in schools, it would cure society’s ills.
But for all the political power the group wields, it claims to oppose “big government” and actively works to undermine the state’s laws around abortion, marriage, adoption, taxes, and nondiscrimination. It supports efforts to hinder racial minorities from voting and has defended police violence by blaming “liberals.” They insist that restrictions on prayer in schools and public places are “attacks on free speech.”
“Domestic right-wing terrorist groups often adhere to the principles of racial supremacy and embrace antigovernment, antiregulatory beliefs,” Dale L. Watson, then-Executive Assistant Director, Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence Division for the FBI warned in testimony before Congress. “Generally, extremist right-wing groups engage in activity that is protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly.”
“Right-wing groups continue to represent a serious terrorist threat. Two of the seven planned acts of terrorism prevented in 1999 were potentially large-scale, high-casualty attacks being planned by organized right-wing extremist groups.”
“Vice President Mike Pence,” the group’s president, Dave Wilson, told the Associated Press, “is very reflective of the ideas, policies and direction that we at Palmetto Family want to see in South Carolina: bringing faith to the forefront and growing the next generation of conservative leaders for our state.”
He said Pence is the “prime person” to address the group.