NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Vice President Mike Pence received applause as he delivered the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame’s graduation. But not all graduates were enthusiastic about the former governor’s presence at the ceremony.
When Pence was called to the stage Saturday morning, around 100 of the new alumni decided to walk out in protest.
The students cited the Vice President’s history of anti-LGBTQ actions including the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015, which some say legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people and families.
We Stand For, a coalition of students at Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s College, posted videos of the protest on Facebook and Twitter. The group says it stands up “for human dignity, respect and justice.”
A small crowd of protesters also gathered at the university's main entrance.
Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne said school officials would only intervene if the protest "seriously disrupted" the commencement or put anyone's safety at risk.
GLAAD, a group aimed at amplifying the voice of those in the LGBTQ community, applauded the men and woman who protested.
“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.”