Mayor Ballard to be grand marshal of Pride Parade

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Greg Ballard will be the grand marshal of the Indy Pride Parade next month.

It is one more example of how gays and lesbians are receiving unexpected benefits from the RFRA controversy. The Pride Parade has never before had a mayor or a Republican as grand marshal.

The pride parade is a big event designed to show off this city’s diversity.

Organizer Nick Murphy described it two years ago by saying, “It’s just a fun day and it just shows we’re all the same.”

But when the governor signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act it pointed out that not everyone recognizes that.

Mayor Greg Ballard was among those who spoke up against RFRA.

“This isn’t about politics. This is not about PR,” he said on March 30. “This is about doing what’s right for individuals, for our city.”

And so organizers of the 2015 Pride Parade invited him to be grand marshal.

“We appreciate that, so, we wanted to have him involved,” said organizer Shere Brooks.

The mayor quickly agreed.

We caught up with him at the 500 Festival Memorial service where he declined to talk about anything unrelated to Memorial Day but he issued this statement:

For decades our city has been recognized as one of the world’s most welcoming communities. Hoosier Hospitality is alive and well, and the Pride Parade is going to be a great opportunity to demonstrate that.”

“This, locally, will make more people from the city go, hey, you know maybe we should come down,” said Brooks, “and see the parade.”

And, by the way this is not a new position for Greg Ballard. He has sent letters of support in previous years.

And organizers sent requested a letter of support from Governor Mike Pence this year.

There has been no response.