Mike Pence coming to ‘troll LGBTQ Atlanta’ on eve of Pride

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Vice President Mike Pence is bringing his long anti-LGBTQ record to Atlanta on the eve of Atlanta Pride in what Georgia Democrats are calling an act of “trolling Georgia’s LGBTQ community.”

Pence will be in town to stump for Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor. The Oct. 11 “Victory Dinner” falls on National Coming Out Day and will feature Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, House Speaker David Ralston, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and others, according to the AJC. The event at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead will reportedly cost $250 for dinner and run as high as $100,000 for multiple private photo opportunities with Pence.

Kemp spokesman Ryan Mahoney told Project Q Atlanta that the dinner will be closed to the press.

Georgia Democrats didn't miss the chance to point to Pence's anti-LGBTQ record, including the 2015 signing of a “religious freedom” bill into law when he was governor of Indiana.

“By inviting the pioneer of RFRA to Georgia on the eve of Pride weekend, it seems Brian Kemp is trolling Georgia’s LGBTQ community and the 400+ major Georgia employers who oppose his plan to sign RFRA into law after all the chaos this law wreaked on Indiana’s economy,” party spokesman Seth Bringman said in a statement to Project Q. 

“Unfortunately for Mr. Kemp, Georgians won’t stand for discrimination,” he added.

Ironically, Pence’s signing of that “religious freedom” bill into law led to a national backlash that factored into a similar bill failing to pass in Georgia that year.

The event is likely to draw protesters. A “Pence Don’t Bring Your Hate to Georgia” protest was scheduled for Sept. 13 when the vice president was scheduled to stump for Kemp. But that visit was rescheduled due to Hurricane Florence.

Janel Green, co-founder of Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, helped organize the original protest and said activists are discussing what, if any, action might be organized around Pence's Oct. 11 visit.

This isn’t the first time this year a Pence visit during Pride festivities led to protests. In June, LGBTQ rights supporters in Ohio staged a “Big LGBTQ Dance Party” outside Pence’s hotel as the vice president made an unrelated visit during Columbus Pride.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will campaign with Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams sometime in October, according to the AJC.

Atlanta Pride is Oct. 12-14.

UPDATE | Vice President Pence canceled his visit to Atlanta on Thursday due to Hurricane Michael, reported the AJC.

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