By Megan Powell, Alexis Weidner
A crowd of LGBT supporters chanted, “Pence must go” as the governor shared his thoughts on civil rights during his annual State of the State address Tuesday.
“I will not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or that interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work,” said Gov. Mike Pence.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender supporters expressed their frustrations with the governor at a State of the State watch party hosted by Freedom Indiana
. Brian Boyd walked out of the watch party livid, calling the governor’s comments on civil rights “absolutely disgraceful.”
“He goes on and on about how wonderful we are here in Indiana,” said Boyd. “How fantastic and loving, cherishing people we are here in Indiana and in one sentence, one sentence, he crushed the LGBT community.”
Pence’s stance on LGBT rights seemed inadequate to Peter Hanscom, initiative manager for Indiana Competes
, a coalition of 350 business leaders across Indiana, which advocates for the rights and protections of the LGBT community.
“We were looking tonight for a moment of leadership from Gov. Pence requesting that the legislature take decisive action and instead what we saw was a shoulder shrug,” said Hanscom.
Other members of Indiana’s LGBT community have also expressed their disagreement with the governor’s stance. However to some it was not much of a surprise.
“I kind of expected that this is what he was going to say,” said Amanda Joseph, who attended Tuesday night’s watch party. “I’m surprised that he spent as much time as he did and gave us that little bit of hope in the middle, but by the end it was very clear that this was his reaction from the beginning, but the way he worded it was a little disappointing.”
Democratic candidate for governor John Gregg
used Pence’s speech as an opportunity to call the governor “an officeholder, not a leader.”
“Hoosiers don’t believe in, nor support discrimination of any kind,” said Gregg. “I encourage Gov. Pence to rethink his position and join me in supporting updating our civil rights statute to include sexual orientation and gender identity so Indiana can begin to move forward again.”
“We were hoping that he would hear the thousands and thousands of Hoosiers that pushed for human rights ordinance, but he didn’t,” said Angie Alexander. “I’m not feeling good, but I’ll continue to fight.”
Alexander said she brought her children to the watch party because she knew that her oldest daughter is aware of what is going on. She believes that it is important for them to know their history and see their parents fight for change.
Like Alexander, Hanover College student Evan Stoner desires an Indiana that provides legal protections for the LGBT community.
“As an LGBTQ member of the state of Indiana, I deserve to be protected as well.” said Stoner.
Stoner is convinced that he will not stop fighting for those ideals.
“We will not give up,” said Stoner. “We will continue to push every single day for what is right, which is every single citizen in the state deserves to be protected.”