Indiana Republican lawmaker Jim Merritt ‘not welcome’ at Pride march

Republican Indiana state senator Jim Merritt

Republican Indiana state senator Jim Merritt plans to march at Indianapolis Pride, but organisers have told him he’s “not welcome.”

Merritt, who is currently running to become Mayor of Indianapolis, has faced a frosty reception after it was revealed he plans to take part in the city’s annual Pride parade on Saturday (June 8).

Indiana state senator Jim Merritt has anti-LGBT record

Local LGBT+ campaigners are sceptical of the candidate, who has consistently voted against LGBT+ rights across his 29 years in the state Senate.

Merritt has repeatedly voted to ban same-sex marriage in the state, and in 2015 voted for then-Governor Mike Pence’s controversial ‘freedom to discriminate’ law.

Republican Indiana state senator Jim Merritt

Republican Indiana state senator Jim Merritt

In response to his plans to march in the parade, Indy Pride festival organisers made clear on Twitter: “Anti-LGBTQ+ individuals and groups are not welcome at our events. We encourage allies of our community to march along side us. He will not be walking in our Parade.”

However, the organisers later clarified that Merritt would be “permitted” to march as a private citizen.

Indianapolis Pride leaders: GOP candidate permitted but not welcome

A statement on Tuesday (June 4) clarified: “Indy Pride spoke with Jim Merritt’s campaign earlier today and re-iterated that he was not welcome at the Indy Pride parade and festival.

“A distinction was made between being ‘welcome’ and ‘permitted’. Those who have registered for the Pride parade are permitted to choose their participants.

“Based on his anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and voting record, he would not be welcomed by Indy Pride or the majority of the community.”

— Indy Pride festival

“If a group chooses to invite Jim Merritt to walk with them, as a private citizen, that is their choice.

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