Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sends welcome letter to Indy Pride festival -- but he left something out

Responding to RFRA backlash, Pence welcomed LGBT people to the leaving out all mention of LGBT people

By Jenny Kutner
Published June 3, 2015 8:45PM (EDT)
Mike Pence                      (AP/Alex Brandon)
Mike Pence (AP/Alex Brandon)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sure has a long way to go if he ever wants to get in the LGBT community's good graces. (For the record, it doesn't seem as if this is something that interests the Republican governor much, but we'll let that slide for the moment.)

Responding to backlash over his decision to sign a controversial religious freedom law that threatens LGBT rights, Pence attempted to garner a little goodwill among his critics this week, issuing a letter to the LGBT organization Indy Pride welcoming people to its annual pride festival. There's just one hitch: Pence's letter totally neglects to mention anything having to do with the LGBT community, save and except for his use of the word "pride" in addressing the organization.

"On behalf of the people of Indiana, welcome to Indianapolis," the letter, which is addressed to an Indianapolis-based organization, reads. "I am confident that those of you who traveled from out of state will come to know our famous Hoosier Hospitality."

The short letter goes on to list several of the city's main attractions, but fails to mention the pride festival at all. Pence issued the message after Indy Pride's president, Chris Morehead, challenged the governor several months ago to welcome people to the LGBT event as he typically would for other occasions.

"What better way to show that Indiana is open for business and not targeting certain groups than for the Governor of Indiana to put out the welcome mat to these visitors," Morehead wrote in March. "We think it would go a long way to allay the fears the nation and the world have been expressing against [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]."

Morehead acknowledged Pence's apparent aversion to specificity after receiving the letter, but told the Indianapolis Star his organization was pleased nonetheless. "Although the letter doesn't specifically welcome LGBT to the city of Indianapolis, we appreciate that Governor Pence issued us this letter," Morehead said.

Jenny Kutner

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