May 16, 2017 at 8:24 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Pence faces walk-out at Notre Dame over his anti-LGBT views
Mike Pence, gay news, Washington Blade

A walk-out is planned when Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Notre Dame. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a demonstration intended to signal outrage over his anti-LGBT record, students at the University of Notre Dame are planning a walk-out during an upcoming commencement ceremony in which Vice President Mike Pence is set to deliver the keynote address.

Xitlaly Estrada, a Notre Dame undergraduate, said in a statement the protest — set to take place during the ceremony on Sunday — is the result of Pence enacting policies in opposition to the Catholic faith.

“The participation and degree-conferring of VP Pence stand as an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the university’s community,” Estrada said.

Prior to his election as vice president, Pence built an anti-LGBT record during his political career. As a U.S. House member, Pence voted against and denounced on the House floor “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

As Indiana governor, Pence famously signed into law a “religious freedom” bill that would have allowed companies and individuals to refuse services to LGBT people. Faced with pressure from the business community and LGBT advocates, Pence was forced to sign into law a “fix” to the measure.

Organizing the protest at North Dame is a coalition of groups that include We Go High! of St. Joe County, Ind.; Michiana Alliance for Democracy; Alliance for Democracy; the Nu Black Power Movement; South Bend Equality; Inclusive Michiana; Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky; and the IWW Local 26. Organizers are using the hashtag #WalkOutND to build support for their effort.

In addition to Pence’s anti-LGBT record, the walk-out is intended to protest his rejection of the Syrian refugee resettlement program, support for Trump’s travel ban, and opposition to sanctuary cities, a statement announcing the demonstration says.

Bryan Ricketts, a Notre Dame undergraduate, said in a statement the demonstration is consistent with former Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh’s vision of school solidarity with the vulnerable.

“Like Father Hesburgh, we seek to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable,” Ricketts said. “We will walk out in silence, with respect for the human dignity of those with whom we disagree and with an invitation to the rest of the community to build an inclusive future together.”

The planned walk-out is set to take place weeks after Education Secretary Betsy Devos delivered the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida, and graduating seniors booed and turned their backs on her over controversial remarks she made comparing HBCUs to schools of choice.

The Washington Blade has placed a request with the office of the vice president seeking comment on the protest.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • It is perfectly fine for individuals or groups to choose not to attend just as much as those who choose to attend.

    • As long as those that choose not to attend simply do not attend. Arriving and then causing disruption by leaving once the intended targeted speaker rises to speak ruins the event for those that choose to attend.

      • Well there wouldn’t be an article in the paper and a request for the VP’s comments then, would there?

      • Sadly the most likely of events to occur would be a seemingly peaceful protest outside of the venue where VP Pence speaks. This seemingly peaceful protest would then be hijacked by Antifa, BLM, or any other quite numerous entities. They preach peace but resort to violence. This most likely event at a university that is most recognized to be a bastion of Catholic education.

      • So, say I want to attend a ceremony celebrating my years at the university, but abhor the speaker, express my feelings to the university, which ignores me. I come, partake in the ceremony until the speaker rises, then leave, quietly, and leave an empty chair as visible evidence of my feelings. Granted, if half the graduates leave there will be a few minutes of calm, quiet disruption. If the university recognized the vast gulf between the speaker’s sense of religious social justice and that of the student body by choosing another speaker…no disruption at all.

        • Being that the only thing that really occurs at a commencement (large undergraduate) is the main speaker, I would suggest you just not go as you would not miss anything. Large undergraduate commencements do not hand out the diplomas during commencement.
          If it was a small graduate commencement, then diplomas might be dispensed (my experience).

        • Besides, it is time to grow up.

  • I’m confused. Pence is Catholic?

    • No. Nor is the Catholic church’s policy pro-gay in any light. The student is confused. The Catholic church does not believe in persecution, but it does not accept gay marriage.

    • “Born and raised Catholic, he became a Catholic youth minister and reportedly wanted to be a priest. But according to interviews Pence has given over the years (interestingly, he has more recently declined to talk specifically about his spiritual evolution), while in college from 1978-81, he began blending his Catholicism with Evangelical Protestantism. “I made a commitment to Christ,” Pence said. “I’m a born again, evangelical Catholic.” from the Daily Beast

  • Staying silent is not how you stand up to hate. Not attending is not how you stand up to hate. These young men and women worked four-plus years for this day of honor, they deserve to be addressed by a person of honor, not a homophobic puppet in the white house. Good for them. The problem we have in the US is we tell people, if you don’t like it, don’t go…that’s what they said in Germany in the early 1930’s…and we all saw what happened. Hate must be opposed, faced and told again and again, THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!

    Good for these kids choosing over what is right over what is ‘accepted’ by so many adults who just roll over and pretend things are okay.

  • Maybe he should have done what Trump did — speak at a school where attendance is mandatory and booing forbidden.

  • Strange how many Americans are suddenly against protest since Trump and pence showed up…

    Is that really the America we want to raise our kids in? An America where protest is reserved for one group of people and denied to others…

    I say good for you young Americans standing up for what is right.

  • I applaud standing up to those who try to promote hate. Pence is not appropriate to give a commencement address especially when his religious views are constitutionally prohibited. If I were a student I would rather receive my degree by mail and skip the ceremony. But they worked hard and should not be forced to make this choice. Why are colleges making such spectacularly poor choices in speakers? We don’t need the republicans shoving their views down our throats. All of the progress we have made seems to be under attack. It’s hateful and immoral. #ImpeachTrumpAndPence

  • He should have come to Purdue. All the Libertarians and Republicans in the schools of Business and Ag would have cheered him insanely.

  • I believe that this would be the best approach to protest. A walk out of the speech given by Pence is very acceptable concerning his Racist and Bigoted views against Blacks, Muslim’s, Jew’s, and the LGBT community. There is nothing that he has to say that will make any difference in the lives of these graduates. There is no Christian soul in the hearts of these people. The people who profess to be acting as any good Christian would, are acting through the eyes of hate and self absorbebsion. Their God is not Jesus but it is the power and money and greed that pushes them to destroy lives.

  • It’s funny…
    For asserting Christians represent the supreme being, judging by these coments, they’re sure insecure about it…

  • He is apostate! Who invited this evil to one of the prime Catholic Universities in the country? He has been born again, something the Christ never was. He turned his back on the Catholic faith.

  • Good, show this jerk that people are people regardless of who they love and they should NEVER be discriminated on.. These damn FAUX Christians don’t run this country. We don’t have to follow their rules. I am NOT Gay but I favor -who you love is your business and these faux Christians are no different than NAZIS’

  • So… 100 out of 3100+ graduates walked off??!!?! Great story.

  • It was OK for pro late term abortion sitting President (Obama) to speak. What flippin’ hypocrites?

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