INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Jim Merritt has said Thursday that he won’t be at Indianapolis Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade and that he regrets his vote for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
RTV6, an Indy TV station, reported that Merritt had planned to attend the parade as a private citizen. IndyPride, the parade organizers, said he wasn’t welcome because of his vote on the RFRA, which gave business owners the ability to turn away LGBTQ people for a “deeply held” religious objection. He said in a press conference that he would respect their wishes.
“My desire to march with friends and neighbors in the IndyPride parade was my way of saying I value every member of our community,” Merritt said Thursday at the press conference. “It was meant to show that I respect the feelings and rights of the LGBTQ+ community and desire to engage in dialogue with them and to serve them as our mayor. However, one must also respect another’s wishes. This is IndyPride’s celebration and I do not wish to dampen it.”
He said that he’d voted for the RFRA before learning it could be a “sword against members of the LGBTQ+ community.” He didn’t say or respond to questions asking when he’d changed his position on the RFRA. He also promised to work to ensure protections for the LGBTQ and diversify the city government’s employees.