Mayor Greg Ballard (R) has an interesting history with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community, at least for a Republican. He won the endorsement of The Word, the largest LGBT newspaper in the state, and Gary Welsh, a gay Republican, wrote extensively about Ballard back in 2007. And unlike previous Republicans, he didn't campaign on divisive issues, even publicly stating that he wouldn't try to repeal the Equal Rights Ordinance that a bi-partisan group of City-County councillors passed and former Mayor Bart Peterson (D) signed into law. The Equal Rights Ordinance granted similar discrimination protections that are often given to those based on gender, age, religion, and disability.
Fast forward a few years later, and Ballard's relationship with the LGBT community is pretty cold. He has avoided every Indy Pride since he was elected, and only made a brief, unscheduled appearance at this year's event (Welsh has more on that subject here). Ballard hasn't even bothered to write a welcome letter, which is a common practice when elected officials can't make it to cultural events. Governor Mitch Daniels and Ballard's predecessor, Peterson, have previously written welcome letters for Indy Pride.
Just like last year, various Democrats (both elected and those campaigning for office) made appearances, as well as several Libertarians. The token Republican this year, outside of Ballard's late afternoon appearance, was AJ Feeney-Ruiz. Ruiz is running for the open seat in council district 15, pitting him up against Vop Osili.
I'm not exactly sure why Republicans are so afraid to be seen at this event, especially those seeking municipal offices. It's just like several other cultural celebrations this city has throughout the year. And it's not like Micah Clark, Eric Miller, and their ilk are doing a whole hell of a lot to actually help your campaigns right now. I've reviewed the campaign reports, and I'm pretty certain I didn't see donations from them in any council races. And the hot-button issues they love so much are so rarely a part of municipal governance. So why are you all so afraid of being seen there?
To Mayor Ballard's credit, his brief appearance at this year's event is more than former Mayor Peterson ever did. Peterson, in his eight years as mayor, never actually went to Indy Pride, despite making appearances at nearly every other (and sometimes, smaller) cultural festival in the city. I suspect Ballard genuinely wants to attend the event, but his handlers think it'll hurt the appearance with the GOP base. If you ask me, the county GOP have done a bang-up job on demoralizing their base as it is, and attending a gay pride festival couldn't possibly make it worse.