Party at Pence’s: LGBT activists host dance party outside VP-elect’s Chevy Chase rental
Brandishing rainbow flags and signs that read “Queer Love” and “Trans Power,” scores of activists marched Wednesday night toward Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s rental home in Northwest Washington, D.C.
Days before Donald Trump’s administration is expected to take over the White House, activists planned what they described as the “Queer Dance Party at Mike Pence’s House.”They met around 6 p.m. ET outside the Friendship Heights Metro Station, where video footage showed them chanting slogans and holding LGBT pride flags as they made their way to the neighborhood where Pence and his wife, Karen, moved after the November election.
Pence’s neighborhood had a heavy police presence ahead of the demonstration, said Adam Bradley, a resident in the area. He said normally Pence’s house on Tennyson Street NW is manned by a vehicle checkpoint and a few officers.
Pence wasn’t home at the time of the dance party. He and his wife joined Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for dinner out.
That didn’t stop crowds from dancing and chanting through the liberal Democratic stronghold. Joanna Pratt, who has lived in a house across from Pence’s rental since 1979, joined the dance party with her husband. She said she saw the crowd grow to at least a couple hundred of people, many carrying rainbow flags and dancing.
“We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, beliefs, and we need to respect our diversity,” Pratt said. “The LGBT community has had a real struggle to be respected and be accepted, and that’s a sad statement on our country and our culture that they’ve had that struggle.”
Pence, a former U.S. representative and the governor of Indiana, believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.
In 2014, the governor’s chief counsel wrote in a letter that Indiana would not recognize several hundred same-sex marriages that took place after a federal judge overturned Indiana’s law banning it.
Pence drew ire from the LGBT and business communities in 2015 when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that allowed business owners to refuse certain services that conflicted with their religious beliefs (like, let’s say, a Christian baker approached by a same-sex couple looking for a wedding cake).
And, although Pence has never explicitly advocated for gay and lesbian conversion therapy, he said during the 2000 congressional campaign that public dollars should go toward the practice (It appears on his 2000 campaign website, where he also stated he would oppose any effort to give same-sex relationships equal legal status as heterosexual marriages.)
LGBT rights advocates worry about what policies Pence would promote as vice president and how they would affect the LGBT community.
When word spread that Pence rented a home near them during the transition, neighbors welcomed the vice president-elect with a series of rainbow flags. Pratt came up with the idea and was surprised to see it catch on. She’s counted more than 300 rainbow flags in the neighborhood since.
“I’m personally hoping our rainbow flags will continue flying for four years,” Pratt said, adding that she’s seen signs crop up for Planned Parenthood and other organizations whose agendas conflict with the Trump administration’s. “I hope those will all stay up as long as we are represented by an administration who does not believe in those things.”
Pratt and her husband aren’t the only neighbors expecting resistance to Trump over the next four years.
“They’re moving to a community that’s overwhelmingly and unapologetically on the side of marginalized folks,” Bradley said, “and they’re going to hear from us long after tonight.”