Hey guys? I think America is, like, on fire? Do you smell that burning? Can someone go check on literally all of America? It's getting kind of hot and melty in here and these old straight white men named Tim Kaine and Mike Pence are just yelling at each other and has anyone called 911?!
I'm talking, of course, about last night's Vice Presidential debate, which somehow was both more substantial and even sloppier than last week's hyper-real spectacle of a presidential Dumpster fire. While Pence and Kaine did a better job of talking about actual issues instead of re-hashing years-old celebrity feuds, one incredibly important topic remained unspoken throughout the 90+ minute debate: LGBTQ issues.
While it would be impossible to expect the two politicians to cover all the problems of our nation in one debate, it was vastly irresponsible of both the moderator and Tim Kaine to not go after Mike Pence on his incredibly shameful history of offenses against the LGBTQ community.
To be more specific: Pence has advocated laws that would make discrimination against gays legal, he has advocated for the redirection of funds for HIV/AIDS treatments and research to (widely discredited) conversion therapy organizations, he has pushed back against the legalization of gay marriage, and has spoken out against LGBTQs in the military. Journalist Matt Baume has neatly summarized many of these issues in a video:
In short: one of the major vice presidential hopefuls is a religious extremist and an evangelical fascist. How this went unmentioned on a national stage should be an embarassment to our entire country.
Major news organizations have noticed the complete lack of discussion of these issues. The New York Times, for example, said: "Mr. Pence’s most controversial moment as a national figure — and the biggest stumble of his political career — came after he signed a law in Indiana that critics had warned would allow businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians. Facing an enormous backlash, Mr. Pence first defended the law and then walked it back. The episode seemed likely to tarnish him as a national figure in a lasting way.
"But neither Mr. Kaine nor the debate moderator, Elaine Quijano of CBS News, raised the issue Tuesday night. The lone mention of gay rights came when Mr. Kaine noted that Mr. Putin 'persecutes LGBT folks and journalists.' Mr. Pence now appears likely to escape the 2016 election without any extensive airing of this formative moment in his career."
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow also went in on this issue:
With more presidential debates coming up, will we get to hear any of our potential future leaders actually discuss the rights of sexual minorities? We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime we'll be here, on fire, waiting for this election to end:
Perhaps, someday, we will not be burning to death.