LGBT activists made sure to give Vice President a nice hospitable Southern welcome on his trip to Savannah, Georgia this week – with a sea of rainbow flags.
The Veep, who has the worst record on LGBT rights of any US leader in US history, was in town for a visit and to take part in the annual St Patrick’s Day parade.
A group of protesters attended the St Pat’s parade route with rainbow flags, while even some local businesses decided to put up flags for the occasion.
Moon River Brewing Company, based in the centre of Savannah, was one of the companies that put up flags.
Owner John Pinkerton wrote: “Moon River Brewing Company is all dressed up for the unwelcome visit of the Prince of Darkness himself, Vice President Mike Pence. Please join me letting our leaders know that spending millions of our tax dollars on security for these kind of frivolous appearances.”
Addressing local leaders, he said: “Mayor Eddie DeLoach, despite my best efforts to reach you, or anybody else in your office, through numerous channels, you have failed to respond.
“How do you reconcile Pence’s long history of hateful policy and rhetoric toward African Americans, LGBT and women? Did you stop to consider the demographic of your own City?
“Let me remind you: Savannah is 55% African American. Women make up over 50% of the population, pretty much everywhere you go. And Savannah is probably (and thankfully) the gayist city in the southeast!”
According to LGBT activists, Pence spent less than an hour at the St Patrick’s Day festivities, pursued along the way by LGBT rights campaigners who “made sure there were rainbows in every photo op”.
Ahead of the event, Savannah Pride, First City Network, and Savannah LGBT Center issued a joint statement noting Pence’s record.
They wrote: “As members of Savannah’s LGBTQ community, we are troubled by our public officials’ welcoming of Vice President Mike Pence.
“Mr Pence has proved himself to be one of the most anti-LGBTQ political crusaders to serve in government. As governor of Indiana, he led a concerted effort to deny equality to LGBTQ people, opposing gay marriage and signing into law a bill that made it legal for businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers.
“As a member of Congress, he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, co-sponsored a bill to define marriage between a man and woman, and sought to cut off HIV funding to organizations that did not encourage the reprehensible practice of gay ‘conversion therapy’.
“These attacks have continued with at least two dozen actions by the current administration against LGBT people, including those serving in our armed forces.
“Ordinarily, there is no place for his brand of discrimination in Savannah. However, this weekend, he will feel right at home at the largest St Patrick’s Day Parade in America that discriminates against LGBTQ organizations.
“We Savannahians are proud of our diversity, so we welcome Vice President Pence to join our interracial gay families raising adopted children, trans service members proudly defending their country, queer artists inspiring creativity, immigrant students dreaming of a bright future with a same-sex spouse, and the many other faces of the Hostess City that will be proudly lining the streets this weekend.”
Pence has had a very gay weekend all-round, having also met with Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – one of the few out world leaders.
The Vice President banned media from the meeting with Mr Varadkar, after the leader said he would be raising LGBT rights.
Ever the diplomat, Mr Varadkar did not detail exactly what was said afterwards – but did reveal that Pence had offered to host him and his partner in future.