Mayor candidate to walk as citizen in Indy Pride Parade

Election

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — After some controversy, Republican mayor candidate Jim Merritt says he will be walking as a private citizen in Saturday morning’s pride parade on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis. 

A controversy over Merritt taking part in the Cadillac Barbie Indy Pride Parade came to the attention of Indy Pride Executive Director Chris Handberg via social media. 

Handberg said Tuesday, “We received information from reporting and Twitter questions from a national organization calling us out for allowing him to be in the parade, so we responded that he is not in the parade. He didn’t register for the parade and, if he had, we would be reviewing that because we don’t allow people that have anti-LGBTQ positions and track records to participate in our parade.” 

Merritt will face Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, in the Nov. 5 general election.

On Tuesday, the Merritt campaign released a statement that says in part, “My campaign has spoken with Indy Pride, Inc. today and Indy Pride, Inc. clarified that my original plans of walking as a private citizen, not as a candidate for mayor, in the parade on Saturday is acceptable.”

The statement was released a few hours after News 8 talked to Handberg.

“I absolutely welcome the opportunity to sit down with Sen. Merritt to talk about his past votes, to hear his perspective and to share ours. Obviously, every politician grows and evolves on certain issues,” Handberg said. 

Merritt went on in his statement to say, “My intention for walking in the Pride Parade is to show others that, over time, my opinions have progressed and theirs can as well.”

IndyPride tweeted on Monday, “To clarify, Jim Merritt is not welcome at our events and will not be walking in the Parade.”

They have since walked back that tweet.

The parade will run from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. It starts in the 700 block of Massachusetts Avenue.

Statements

From Indy Pride website

“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. If a group chooses to invite Jim Merritt to walk with them, as a private citizen, that is their choice. It was expressed that, based on his anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and voting record, he would not be welcome by Indy Pride or the majority of the community.  

“Indy Pride asked Merritt to release a statement detailing his support for the LGBTQ+ Community. He has consistently voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman; voted for RFRA, and the watered down “hate crimes” bill which Pride does not support because it intentionally excludes Trans and Non-Binary members of our community. Claiming to support the community with this bill is an inaccurate half-measure.

“Allies marching in the Pride parade implicitly express support for marriage equality, equal housing rights, hate crimes legislation which includes transgender and nonbinary individuals, and that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not a sin, a crime, or cause of shame. If Jim Merritt walks as planned, it is our hope that he expresses his change in beliefs publicly and specifically.”

From state Sen. Jim Merritt, candidate for mayor of Indianapolis:

“Indy welcomes all. It’s an important mantra we have been proudly proclaiming in our community for several years. This is the message I personally want to spread as well. That is why I have been planning for several months to walk in the Indy Pride Parade with friends.

“My intention for walking in the Pride Parade is to show others that, over time, my opinions have progressed and theirs can as well.

“I own every vote that I have made in the legislature but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned along the way and that I would make the same votes today. As Mayor of Indianapolis my constituency would be different than it has been in my senate district. I will represent all citizens of Indianapolis.

“My campaign has spoken with Indy Pride, Inc. today and Indy Pride, Inc. clarified that my original plans of walking as a private citizen, not as a candidate for mayor, in the parade on Saturday is acceptable.

“I support LGBTQ+ rights. I voted for the hate crimes legislation this year. At that time, I said on the Senate floor, we must not leave doubt that Indiana welcomes all. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a human rights issue. We must condemn hate by demonstrating how we love one another. I look forward to an ongoing conversation with Indy Pride, Inc. and other LGBTQ+ groups.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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