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March 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Vice President Mike Pence is getting some friendly criticism from a conservative friend and top pro-family leader in his home state of Indiana for praising President Trump’s extension of a pro-LGBTQ Obama executive order.

But it is not the first time that Pence has faced scrutiny in Indiana. Pence’s acquiescence to the neutered Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015 devastated pro-family and conservative GOP activists nationwide and is thought to have been a factor in his choosing not to run for president in 2016.

Trump's extension of Obama's order mandates that federal contractors follow pro-homosexual and pro-transgender employment policies or lose doing business with the federal government. It was signed by Obama in 2014 and reaffirmed in early February by President Trump.

Trump was widely criticized by social conservatives for not putting an end to the Obama federal contractors mandate, which also has the distinction of being the first federal act to cover ”transgendered federal workers.” Homosexual and “transgender” activist groups praised Trump for the action.

In contrast, pro-family advocates were ecstatic when Trump reversed Obama’s federal “guidance” to schools nationwide urging them to allow “transgender” students to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms, and play on opposite-sex sports teams.

Is opposing homosexual activism “prejudice?”

On Feb. 5, Pence appeared on ABC’s Sunday talk show “This Week” with anchor George Stephanopoulos, who asked him: “President Trump decided this week to let stand President Obama's executive order on LGBT rights. And it prompted this question from a prominent social conservative, Bob Vander Plaats. He said, ‘Our base is wondering why Obama's executive order is allowed to stand.’ What's the answer?”

Pence responded:

“I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration. I mean, he was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him.

“I think the generosity of his spirit, recognizing that in the patriot’s heart, there’s no room for prejudice is part of who this president is.”

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, has known Vice President Pence for two decades, worked with him to advance pro-family legislation and considers him a friend. But Clark was disappointed in Pence’s cheerleading rhetoric about Trump’s pro-LGBT federal order.

“Does real freedom have a place in the Trump administration? The vice president surely must know in his heart that the main issue for conservatives with this executive order was to stop the true discrimination that is occurring against people of faith who believe in the same traditional values that Mike Pence ran on for Congress and for governor,” Clark told LifeSiteNews.

He took particular issue with the vice president’s use of “prejudice” applied to the LGBTQ mandate. Homosexual and transgender activists routinely conflate disagreement with their agenda and aberrant lifestyles with “hate” and “bigotry.”

Clark said the only “prejudice” evangelicals and social conservatives have “is a very rational bias toward a child having both a mom and a dad, which is a preference that is found in their faith teachings and supported by a mountain of social science research.

“The other prejudice they have is that they believe that people of faith should still have the rights of conscience that led the Pilgrims to come to America,” he said. “Those aren’t beliefs to be cast aside or put down now as an appeasement to the media, the pop culture or the radical LGBTQ movement.”

Clark said he has heard complaints from Indiana conservatives about Pence’s remarks. He hopes that in the future both Vice President Pence and President Trump would “remember that the people who elected them wanted religious freedom protected — not disparaged nor negated through activist, pro-LGBTQ laws.”

Pence’s previous capitulation

Ironically, Pence’s path toward the vice presidential nomination came in part due to an action he took in 2015 that was widely regarded on the Right as selling out conservative, pro-family values. Leading up to and after he signed an Indiana bill into law protecting religious freedom, pro-homosexual activists and executives with several major corporate leaders, including the NCAA, decried the legislation. They said it gave businesses a “license to discriminate” against homosexuals and threatened to boycott the Hoosier State over it.  

As liberal and media pressure mounted, Pence and Republican legislative leaders quickly pushed through a measure to water down the law, which Pence signed April 2, 2015. The revised law “included new language to clarify that businesses and service providers cannot use the legislation as a justification to discriminate based on a client’s sexual orientation” The Washington Post reported.

Brian Camenker and Amy Contrada of the pro-family group Mass Resistance noted that under the new bill, “business owners could not legally fight charges of ‘discrimination’ based on sexual orientation or gender identity — even on religious grounds.” They said the new bill signed quickly by Pence “is basically a ‘gay rights’ bill.” 

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According to Clark, one tragic result for conservatives after the original law was changed was that a slew of Indiana cities enacted nondiscrimination laws based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” nondiscrimination laws. These are the very same type of laws that have led to many lawsuits against Christians who oppose homosexual “marriage” on faith grounds.

The decision ended up having political implications a year later.

Last summer, as Trump beat back 14 of 16 Republican challengers in the primary and faced only Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to effectively seal the GOP nomination. Indiana was a must win for Cruz to stay alive in the race and Pence endorsed him. But many political observers noted the governor’s effusive praise for Trump as well. On May 3, Trump thumped Cruz in Indiana 53 percent to 37 percent, knocking Cruz out of the race.

Ten weeks later, the presumptive GOP nominee for president chose Pence as his running mate.