Just a few months after he signed a controversial religious freedom bill, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) issued a letter ostensibly to welcome the attendees of a Pride Festival in Indiana to the state, but failed to specifically mention the LGBT community, according to the Indy Star.
“On behalf of the people of Indiana, welcome to Indianapolis,” Pence wrote in the letter. “I am confident that those of you who traveled from out of state will come to know our famous Hoosier Hospitality.”
Indy Pride, the group that organized the festival, wrote a letter to Pence in March asking him to officially welcome the LGBT community to the state.
“The Festival attracts visitors from all over the region, the country, and the world, and while we understand your position that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a way for businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, we want to offer you the opportunity to reassure our visitors that when they come to Circle City IN Pride, the vaunted notion of ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ is in full effect,” Indy Pride President Chris Morehead wrote.
“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. We think it would go a long way to allay the fears the nation and the world have been expressing against RFRA,” Morehead continued.
Pence did not mention the LGBT community in his letter, and instead detailed a few attractions in Indianapolis.
Morehead said he was pleased with the letter from Pence, according to the Indy Star.
“Although the letter doesn’t specifically welcome LGBT to the city of Indianapolis, we appreciate that Governor Pence issued us this letter,” he said.
Jennifer Wagner, a spokeswoman for Freedom Indiana told the Huffington Post that Pence’s letter isn’t a big enough gesture to reassure the LGBT community that they are welcome in the state.
“[T]he only way to make it clear that our entire state truly is open to and protects everyone is to pass a statewide nondiscrimination law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said. “Indianapolis already has those protections in place, and it’s exciting that Republican Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will be the grand marshal of this year’s parade.”
In March, Pence signed a religious freedom bill that may have allowed businesses to discriminate against gay people. After outcry from businesses in the state, Pence called for a clarification to the bill.