According to the Indianapolis Star, it was an unexpected drama Saturday when United States Vice President Mike Pence took the stage at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, more than 100 students and their families quietly got up from their seats and walked out, with a mix of cheers and boos.
This was not a surprise, but rather a staged protest some students had been planning for weeks. When Notre Dame announced that the vice president and former governor of Indiana would be the university’s 2017 graduation speaker in March, the student organization WeStaNDFor began brainstorming ways to take a stand.
Bryan Ricketts, who served as Notre Dame’s student body president from 2015-16 and graduated Sunday with a dual-degree in political science and chemical engineering, was one of the leaders. Ricketts told IndyStar that many of his peers were “upset and hurt” by the school’s decision to invite Pence because his “policies have impacted the humanity of certain graduates.”
Pence, a former governor of Indiana, was invited to speak after Notre Dame students and faculty protested the prospect of Trump being invited to become the seventh US president to give the commencement address.
The student's reaction was contained in a press release; “Graduates around the country deserve commencement speakers who inspire them to propel our diverse country forward, and these Notre Dame students bravely told the world that Vice President Pence’s anti-LGBTQ actions fly in the face of unity and inspiration,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “These Notre Dame graduates should be applauded for demonstrating true leadership and standing up for freedom and acceptance.”
Pence has a history of speaking out against LGBTQ people and passing discriminatory laws including Indiana’s RFRA in 2015, which allowed legal discrimination of LGBTQ people and families. Pence amended the law after it was met with outcry from sports leagues, local press, business leaders, and countless other fair-minded notables across the state and the country. With joemygod.com.
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