More than 50 graduates of Notre Dame University in Indiana walked out on Vice President Mike Pence's commencement address to protest the former governor's right-wing stands on LGBT issues.
Protests also challenged the Trump administration's record against the environment and civil and human rights.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, “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. These Notre Dame graduates should be applauded for demonstrating true leadership and standing up for freedom and acceptance.”
Pence, during his address, spoke briefly of Trump, praising his speech to the leaders of 50 Arab and Muslim nations earlier in the day in Saudi Arabia. Pence said the president "spoke out against religious persecution of all people of all faiths and on the world stage he condemned, in his words, the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians."
Earlier in the ceremony, valedictorian Caleb Joshua Pine urged a "stand against the scapegoating of Muslims" and criticized Trump's push to build a wall along the Mexican border.
Cassandra Dimaro and her parents were among those who walked out. Dimaro told the South Bend Tribune that it was a show of solidarity "for those of us impacted by the policies of the Trump administration."
Pence didn't comment on the walkout, which was expected, but he did allude to clashes at campuses elsewhere that have derailed appearances by controversial speakers, such as conservative firebrand Ann Coulter at the University of California at Berkeley.
"This university (Notre Dame) is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America," he said.
On the web
Video of the protest.