Appearing today on ABC’s “This Week,” Vice President Mike Pence explained to host George Stephanopoulos the decision by President Trump to retain an executive order issued by Barack Obama that protected the rights of lesbian, gay, and other sexual identities who work for federal contractors. Pence clarified that during Trump’s campaign that “discrimination would have no place in our administration."
 
Stephanopoulos referred to the response from some social conservatives to Trump's decision, citing the example of  Bob Vander Plaats of the conservative group The Family Leader, who said, "Our base would want to know who is responsible for what we believe is an issue of religious liberty — that would be of concern to us."
 
Show host Stephanopoulos asked, "What's the answer?" Pence answered, “I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration.” Pence said, “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.”
 
The vice president added, "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." 
 
Last week, Trump vowed to "destroy" the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and other tax-exempt groups from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Trump told the attendees at the February 2nd National Prayer Breakfast, "I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution."
 
Pence said, “The president's made it clear that he wants to take action on the Johnson Amendment. He's directed the administration to begin to look at ways, both legislatively and through executive action, to do that.” The Johnson Amendment is a provision of the U.S. tax code, passed in 1954, that prevents churches and universities and other tax-exempt organizations from participating in politics. 
 
Regarding religious liberty, Pence suggested that more executive orders may be expected from Trump. “His reiterated commitment to religious liberty are all a part of the kind of leadership that people are going to welcome from President Trump,” Pence said.
 
Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think a new executive order is necessary on religious liberty? Or is current law sufficient?” Pence said that it is within the “purview of the president” to decide if more executive orders are necessary.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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