Pence sorry; Site re-posts comments

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Mike Pence promised to create a new policy for his Facebook page on Friday. The governor endured criticism over the last two days for deleting some comments from people who disagree with his position on same sex marriage.

It's a controversy that continues to grow, in part, because some of the governor's critics launched a website accusing Pence of censorship at pencership.com . There, you can find many of the deleted comments.

In a small office in Broad Ripple, Andy Markle is working on the website that didn't exist until late Thursday afternoon.

"The reason ‘pencership’ came into existence," said Markle, "is because I thought that people needed know that the governor was violating their First Amendment rights by deleting comments that were pretty innocuous."

The comments on the governor's Facebook page were made in response to a statement posted Wednesday expressing disappointment over the Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Some were deleted for being uncivil, but some civil messages that expressed an opposing point of view were also deleted.

And that's where Markle comes in. He is a marketing specialist who is working with a group of friends to counter the governor's actions. He is experiencing unexpected success.

"Within the last 12 hours we've received almost 5,000 unique visitors,” he said. "Then we had over 1,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and we've had 176 tweets to the Facebook directly, or the website directly."

The governor, meanwhile, posted a new statement on his Facebook page expressing regret that some comments that weren't offensive were deleted.  He directed his staff to develop new standards for the page and promised to post them in the days ahead. Here’s the full text of the statement:

"I believe that civility and respect for the opinion of others is essential to the democratic process. I also believe in the Freedom of Speech.

Over the past 24 hours, I became aware of concerns that comments responding to my statement of support for traditional marriage were being deleted from this Facebook page because they disagreed with my stated position.

Our longstanding policy, on this and other social media sites, has been to delete inflammatory comments that include name-calling, vulgarity or comments personally insulting to others. It was my understanding that the comments which were deleted all met this standard.

On careful review, it appear that this was not always the case and some comments were being deleted simply because they expressed disagreement with my position. I regret that this occurred and sincerely apologize to all those who were affected.

I have instructed our staff to review our policy and develop a standard of conduct similar to that of other elected officials and news organizations in the days ahead. We will post that policy prominently on this site.

Hoosiers expect our public debate to be open and respectful and we will ever seek to live up to that standard. In agreement or disagreement, I respect the opinions and the freedoms of all the people of Indiana."

Sincerely,
Governor Mike Pence

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