COLUMBUS, Ohio – LGBTQ rights supporters and people celebrating Pride welcomed Vice President Mike Pence to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday with a “Big LGBTQ Dance Party.”
Crowds converged on a small stretch of Gay Street — you read that right — outside the hotel where Pence was speaking to a separate group about tax reform.
Videos posted to social media showed crowd members raising rainbow flags and dancing to loud music. They were celebrating the kickoff of Columbus’ Pride Festival, but organizers also wanted to send a message to the vice president.
“We want to counter that anti-LGBT attitude that they have with a big, positive, loving dance party,” said organizer Jay Smith in a statement from ProgressOhio, which cosponsored the event.
Smith told CNN affiliate WBNS the dance party had two purposes. First, organizers wanted to call attention to Pence’s record on gay rights, he said.
While he was governor of Indiana in 2015, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics said could be used by individuals and businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community on the basis of religion.
“And the second (purpose),” Smith said, “is to offer broad support for the LGBT community, and especially for those who are still struggling with their sexual orientation identity or their gender identity.”
Pence was in Columbus to talk about tax reform at an event put on by America First Policies at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel, according to WBNS.
America First Policies is a nonprofit closely aligned with the White House. It has reportedly raised millions to support President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Friday’s party was not the first time LGBTQ rights proponents targeted the VP with dancing. Back in January 2017, hours before his inauguration as vice president, about 200 protesters marched to Pence’s rental home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and held a dance party outside, chanting, “Daddy Pence, come dance.”