Mike Pence’s hometown will host its first ever LGBTQ Pride festival on April 14, the handiwork of brilliant teen Erin Bailey, a senior at Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech High School, according to HuffPost.
Bailey decided to plan the festival both to let LGBTQ people in her town know that Columbus, Indiana, is “a welcoming and diverse community,” as she explained to HuffPost UK, and to complete her school’s “senior project” requirement. The fact that it just so happens she lives in Mike Pence’s hometown “made it even more perfect,” Bailey said in an interview with the New York Daily News.
Columbus is home to around 50,000 people; the festival, which will be its first ever public Pride event, will feature information booths, food, drinks, and other vendors. Pence himself has commented on the event to herald Bailey for her leadership: “Vice President Pence commends Erin Bailey for her activism and engagement in the civic process,” spokesperson Alyssa Farah said in a statement. “As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process.”
Bet he is! Involvement in the political process—that’s something Pence knows well.
In September 2017, the Trump Justice Department filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court to support so-called “religious exemptions” that discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.
In February 2017, the Trump administration rolled back Title IX guidance to protect trans students in schools nationwide.
In October 2017, the New Yorker published a profile on Pence, in which President Trump is quoted as joking on the issue of LGBTQ rights: “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
And prior to his service in the Trump White House, then-Indian Governor Pence passed a “religious freedom” bill that allowed business owners to refuse service to LGBTQ customers. The negative national attention was so fierce that Pence was forced to amend the law to explain that it could not be used to discriminate on basis of sexual orientation or gender.