GLAAD Video: Over 50 Notre Dame Graduates walk out during Vice President Pence's commencement address

GLAAD Applauds Student-Led Protest and Tweets Pence’s Worst Anti-LGBTQ Quotes and Actions

NEW YORK – Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD – the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, released the following statement after more than 50 graduates of Notre Dame University in Indiana participated in a walkout protest during Vice President and former Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s commencement address today. The students cited his history of anti-LGBTQ actions including passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015, which legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people and families.

Video of the Notre Dame students turning their backs and leaving their graduation during Pence’s commencement address is available here. Following the walkout, students tweeted photos of themselves in graduation caps and gowns outside of Notre Dame stadium using #walkoutND. GLAAD began tweeting a series of his previous anti-LGBTQ statements and actions paired with the photos:

“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.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION – Mike Pence’s Long Anti-LGBTQ Activist Record

2000: During his congressional campaign, Mike Pence said, “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.”

2000: Pence also supported the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only if federal dollars were excluded from organizations who “celebrate” and “encourage” behavior that facilitates spreading of the HIV virus. Further, Pence supported this reauthorization only if “those institutions provided assistance to those looking to change their sexual behavior,” which many interpreted as an endorsement for so-called ex-gay conversion therapy, a practice debunked by the nation’s leading mental and mental health authorities including the American Psychiatric Association.

2004: Mike Pence co-sponsored a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

2007: Pence voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from being legally fired from a job for their sexual orientation.

2010: Mike Pence voted against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal which allowed LGBTQ Americans to openly serve their country in military service.

2012: Pence refused to say on the record if he supported a same-sex couple raising a child together.

2014: Gov. Pence supported HJR-3, a bill to add an amendment banning same-sex marriage to Indiana’s Constitution.

2015: Governor Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a closed-door ceremony surrounded by special interest lobbyists.

2015: Governor Pence said on ABC’s “This Week” that it was “absolutely not” a mistake to sign RFRA, despite Indiana having to face a $250 million economic panic.

2015: Even after his approval rating plummets from RFRA, Mike Pence on July 22 told the media he is “studying” the issue of LGBTQ rights and whether or not he’d support protections for the LGBTQ community.