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IndyPride: Anti-LGBTQ politician not welcome at Pride

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Indianapolis and the Indiana State Capitol. (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

INDIANAPOLIS — An anti-LGBTQ politician is NOT welcome and Indianapolis’s Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade despite rumors, the organizers have said.

IndyPride, the organizers of the Hoosier capital’s Pride parade and festival, on Monday told local media that State Sen. Jim Merritt, a GOP candidate for Indy mayor who voted for a marriage ban and for the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is not joining the parade.

From TV station RTV6:

Monday morning, “IMPORTANTVILLE!” reported that Merritt was going to march in the Cadillac Barbie Indy Pride Parade. The publication’s author, Adam Wren, said Merritt’s campaign spokesperson confirmed that he would be marching. The spokesperson, April Gregory, has not returned RTV6 questions about Merritt’s status for Saturday’s parade.

After Wren reported that Merritt would be marching, a few other publications picked up on the news. This led to GLAAD, an LGBTQ acceptance organization, to criticize the move.

Monday afternoon, IndyPride said on Twitter that Merritt would not be welcome at the weekend’s events. He will not be marching because he missed the May 4 deadline to register, said Chris Handberg, the executive director of IndyPride.

There’s nothing anybody can do to keep Merritt from simply attending and watching the parade on Saturday — Handburg said nobody’s going to escort him away from Mass Ave — but IndyPride has made it clear he is not welcome, due to his voting history.

It should be noted that Indianapolis was one of several Indiana cities that has a LGBTQ rights ordinance and had fought the RFRA.

IndyPride issue another statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Indy Pride spoke with Jim Merritt’s campaign earlier today and re-iterated that he was not welcome at the Indy Pride Parade and Festival. A distinction was made between being “welcome” and “permitted”. Those who have registered for the Pride Parade are permitted to choose their participants. If a group chooses to invite Jim Merritt to walk with them, as a private citizen, that is their choice. It was expressed that, based on his anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and voting record, he would not be welcome by Indy Pride or the majority of the community.  

Indy Pride asked Merritt to release a statement detailing his support for the LGBTQ+ Community. He has consistently voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman; voted for RFRA, and the watered down “hate crimes” bill which Pride does not support because it intentionally excludes Trans and Non-Binary members of our community. Claiming to support the community with this bill is an inaccurate half-measure.

Allies marching in the Pride parade implicitly express support for marriage equality, equal housing rights, hate crimes legislation which includes transgender and nonbinary individuals, and that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not a sin, a crime, or cause of shame. If Jim Merritt walks as planned, it is our hope that he expresses his change in beliefs publicly and specifically.

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