Mike Pence’s hometown gets first pride festival
An LGBT high school student bearded the lion in its den by setting up a successful pride festival in Vice President Mike Pence’s hometown in Columbus, Indiana over the weekend.
Erin Bailey, a student of Columbus Signature Academy, hosted the festival not only as a senior project but also to stand up for LGBT rights in the era of Trump administration’s slow erosion of civil rights and equality.
Bailey clarified that while the march is a pointed declaration against Pence, “I’m not doing this for him, it’s for members of the community.”
Mike Pence’s hometown and LGBT history
The city of Columbus with its population of 47,000 was welcoming of the LGBT marchers– over 1,000 people who stood the wind and the rain– who came out in support of the LGBT community.
The pride festival offered face painting, rainbow S’mores on a stick, and drag performances.
Rainbow flags adorned the old National Bank in downtown as well as the corporate headquarters of the Cummins Engine Company, a Fortune 500 company that first offered domestic partner benefits in 2000.
The last time the city experienced an LGBT march was when Cummins offered their benefits and protested this move with a prayer rally. A counter-rally of 150 marched in support of Cummins.
Marching in Mike Pence’s hometown
One of the country’s staunchest and largest LGBT advocacy organization, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), joined the march with local advocates.
“We are honored to participate in Columbus’ inaugural LGBT Pride Festival and prove once again that love trumps hate,” said HRC Senior Public Policy Advocate Jennifer Pike Bailey, who is an Indiana native and represented HRC at the event.
“By fearlessly standing up for equality, Erin Bailey is showing Mike Pence, who has a long, disturbing record of attacking and demonizing the LGBTQ community, that Hoosiers won’t stand for his brand of discriminatory politics,” Bailey said.
Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT reputation
Pence’s rise to power to the vice-presidency in the Trump administration has been partnered with a long history of promoting discriminatory anti-LGBT policies and undermining progress.
In Congress, he pushed for a “license to discriminate” bill that would allow businesses to deny service to LGBT people in 2015 and supported conversion therapy for LGBT youth.
He also voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
As vice president, he pushed for an executive order granting a license to discriminate versus LGBT people and urged for a ban on qualified military transgender members.
He also opposed marriage equality, and moved to block guidelines from the Department of Education supporting transgender students.