President Donald Trump once joked in private that Mike Pence "wants to hang" gay people, according to a profile of the vice president in The New Yorker on Monday.
The story, citing two anonymous sources, said Trump enjoys needling the conservative former Indiana governor about his views on abortion and homosexuality and, when a conversation with an unnamed legal scholar turned to gay rights, the president motioned to Pence and allegedly joked, "Don't ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!"
New Yorker writer Jane Mayer also reported that Trump "belittled Pence's determination to overturn Roe v. Wade" after the legal scholar said many states would likely legalize abortion if the Supreme Court were to rule against it.
The vice president's spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, said in a statement to The Indianapolis Star that The New Yorker story contains false statements.
"Articles like this are why the American people have lost so much faith in the press," Farah said in a statement to the paper. "The New Yorker piece is filled with unsubstantiated, unsourced claims that are untrue and offensive."
The report highlighted fears LGBTQ advocates have raised about Pence. Namely, that he is staunchly anti-LGBTQ, and his presidency, if it were to occur, would open the floodgates to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Human Rights Campaign called Trump's reported joke "evil" in a tweet posted Monday afternoon.
While serving as governor of Indiana, Pence passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which critics said would have effectively serve as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious grounds. In the wake of enormous backlash, Pence signed a "fix" that made clear the state's RFRA could not be used by businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ patrons.
In the past, Pence has said gay couples "signaled societal collapse," opposed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," opposed a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and rejected Obama administration guidance on transgender students being able to use bathrooms that corresponds to their gender identity.
A request for comment from the White House was not immediately returned.
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