Vice President Mike Pence has responded to the organizers of a gay pride festival that will take place this month in his hometown of Columbus, Indiana. Pence has been criticized by the LGBTQ community for holding to traditional Christian views on marriage and for opposing LGBTQ-related initiatives such as gender-neutral bathrooms.
High school senior Erin Bailey, who organized the event, told HuffPost that “even though Mike Pence is openly anti-gay, that doesn’t mean that all of us in his hometown are.”
Much of this criticism comes down to the commonly voiced claim that the vice president is an advocate of “gay conversion” therapy. But earlier this year, Pence’s press secretary told PEOPLE that this is an absolute fabrication.
“The accusation is totally false with no basis in fact,”Alyssa Farah said in January.
Farah also issued an extraordinary response from the vice president in relation to the upcoming gay pride festival.
“Vice President Pence commends Erin Bailey for her activism and engagement in the civic process,” she told PEOPLE. “As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process.”
In a recent interview with ELLE, Erin Bailey made it clear that Pence’s presence at the parade would be welcomed.
“If Pence attends, I would thank him for coming and opening his mind to see the diversity in his hometown!” the event organizer said.
Pence’s daughter, Charlotte, recently made headlines after her children’s book about her pet bunny “Marlon” was satirized by talk show host John Oliver. In a clear slight toward Pence’s views, Oliver reinvented the central bunny character as a homosexual.
Charlotte, however, responded brilliantly.
“I have bought his book,” she said, according to The Hill. “He’s giving proceeds of the book to charity, and we’re also giving proceeds of our book to charity, so I really think that we can all get behind it.”
In a candid interview with “The View” hosts, Charlotte asserted that the biggest misconception about her father is “that he has any animosity or hatred towards anyone.”
“He has really strong views,” she said. “He’s a conservative, he’s called to public life, but he doesn’t have a bad feeling toward anyone despite his strongly-held belief.”