More than 50 graduates protested Vice
President Mike Pence's Notre Dame University commencement address on
The graduates stood up from their seats
and walked out of their graduation as Pence delivered his remarks.
Some of the students cited Pence's long
anti-LGBT record, while others said they were speaking out against
the policies of President Donald Trump's administration.
“I was a student here at Notre Dame
in 2015 when Mike Pence in Indiana passed the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act without including initially civil rights protections
for LGBT people,” Bryan Ricketts, one of the students who walked
out of the ceremony, told CNN when asked about the protest.
As governor of Indiana, Pence defended
signing a law that critics said would allow businesses to
discriminate against the LGBT community. Mounting pressure from the
business community forced Pence to call for a “fix” to the law.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of
GLAAD, applauded the protest.
“Graduates around the country deserve
commencement speakers who inspire them to propel our diverse country
forward, and these Notre Dame students bravely told the world that
Vice President Pence’s anti-LGBTQ actions fly in the face of unity
and inspiration,” Ellis
said in a statement. “These Notre Dame graduates should be
applauded for demonstrating true leadership and standing up for
freedom and acceptance.”
GLAAD also pointed out that Pence
opposes marriage equality and voted against “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
repeal and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a federal
employment bill that sought to prohibit discrimination based on
sexual orientation and gender identity.