Activists in Mike Pence’s Indiana hometown have organized the city’s first pride festival—and the notoriously homophobic vice president says he’s delighted.
Erin Bailey, a high school student in Columbus, Indiana, began planning the city’s inaugural LGBT Pride event as a senior year project. Bailey told USA Today she hopes the April 14 event will “promote a message of inclusiveness” from her hometown, the same place where Pence grew up.
“Most people would think that all of us here are also anti-LGBT,” Bailey said, referring to Pence’s history of anti-gay policies. “But there are plenty of us who very much support the LGBT community and are members of the community.”
The veep’s history of backing anti-LGBT policies is no secret: In Congress, Pence cosponsored the anti-gay Marriage Protection Act of 2004, banning same-sex marriage, and as governor, he supported religious freedom bills that allow LGBT people to be openly discriminated against. Pence also infamously claimed that funding for HIV/AIDS would better be spent on gay conversion therapy.
But a spokesperson claims the vice president is supportive of Bailey’s endeavors in the town of some 47,000 people.
“Vice President Pence commends Erin Bailey for her activism and engagement in the civic process,” rep 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.”
Bailey isn’t the first to rub Pence’s nose in his anti-gay history: When he attended a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah, LGBT advocates demonstrated on the sidelines. And over Christmas, neighbors hung a sign reading “Make America Gay Again” in front of his vacation home in Aspen.