Letters offer Pride Festival welcome after RFRA fallout

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – State and city leaders in Indianapolis are trying to make sure organizers of the city’s yearly Pride Festival feel welcome. This comes after the religious freedom fallout earlier this year.

Indy Pride begins Friday, June 5. It’s an event that draws hundreds of LGBT supporters to downtown Indianapolis. This week leaders at the Statehouse as well as Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard sent welcome letters to organizers of the event.

The letters go out every year but this year there are references to the religious freedom fallout.

In Ballard’s letter, he writes in part, “I offer a special and personal assurance to you that Indianapolis remains an open, welcoming, and inclusive city.”

Democrat and house minority leader Scott Pelath writes in part, “The events of recent months have made it clear that the mission of Indy Pride and the Circle City Pride IN Festival is more important now than ever before.”

Pelath and other Democrats are upset that Republican leaders at the Statehouse are choosing not to discuss civil and gay rights during their summer study sessions. The summer sessions help lawmakers write new bills for the next session.

Civil and gay rights are one of 60 issues that didn’t make the cut for study this summer. Democrats say Republicans are seeking to avoid a civil rights debate in an election year.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says its not an effort to duck the issue.

“It just didn’t work its way through the process unanimously,” said Bosma. “As we move forward here and I think there was some concern that the Supreme Court would be speaking on some very important related issues this summer so a study would be premature now.”

Republican and Senate President Pro Tem David Long says they will revisit the issue next year.

Click here to read the letters in their entirety.