Pence defends deleting of gay marriage comments

Same-sex marriage proponents angered

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is defending his staff's decision to delete pro-gay marriage comments from his Facebook page that he says included personal attacks.

Pence said Thursday that his social media policy allows for differing opinions without personal attacks. He says it mirrors the online commenting policy of many news organizations.

A handful of gay marriage supporters had their comments struck from the governor's Facebook page Wednesday and were blocked on Twitter. The comments were deleted shortly after the Republican governor said he would support adding Indiana's gay marriage ban into the state constitution.

However, screen shots provided by one of the commenters show one comment with no clear personal attacks was deleted as was another asking what economic impact Pence's stance has on the state.

Jim Ansaldo said he was warned by friends that his posts would probably be banished, even though he said they contained no profanity or name-calling.

"So I guess i wasn't completely surprised. But it's still pretty disappointing, especially, you know, considering that the statement itself that the governor put out said that the question will be considered with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all the people of our state. And to me, censoring someone's comments is not in line with that statement," Ansaldo said.

Several other posters confirmed their submissions had been exiled.

Eric Deckers is a social media professional who produces blogs for several companies. He said it is OK to delete obscene of offensive comments, but to take down postings because of a disagreement indicates an unwillingness to listen.

"We tell businesses that you need to listen to customer complaints and that Facebook and Twitter and the company page are the places to do it. And they should listen to what the customers are saying so they can address those issues. And so by deleting that, the governor shows he's not willing to listen to what other people are saying and to possibly find new ways of thinking about that idea," Deckers said.

Pence said on his Facebook page Thursday that his staff told him the comments were removed because they were uncivil.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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