In response to the State Legislature’s current bill (SJR 7) seeking to limit equal marriage rights for same-sex couples by amending the constitution, gay rights advocates and their friends and families are planning a Rally/Silent Protest at the east steps of the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday, March 8 at 11 a.m. to protest this piece of legislation and several others that are currently under consideration. Organizers are expecting over 1,000 supporters to attend the rally.
This rally will also serve as a counter rally to the one taking place on the west side of the statehouse, held by the right-wing organization Advance America, founded by former political candidate and longtime lobbyist Eric Miller. Miller is a supporter of amending the Indiana constitution to prevent equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
A number of bills have been introduced into into the Indiana State Legislature this season that will have an effect on the lives of gay and lesbian citizens of Indiana. Here is a synopsis of three of them:
SJR 7 – EQUAL MARRIAGE RIGHTS: This bill seeks to amend the Indiana constitution to limit the possibility of marriage to a definition of one man and one woman, and additionally seeks to prevent any legal arrangements between same-sex couples that are intended to provide the same protections as marriage.
SJR 585 – ADOPTION/FOSTERING: This bill will prohibit gay people from being foster parents and adopting.
SJR 541 – DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS: This bill will limit eligibility under a state university health plan to an employee of the university and to the spouse and dependant children of the employee.
The first legislation, SJR 7 has already passed in the senate and will move on to the house in this legislative session. In the House of Representatives, SJR 7 is expected to be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which will conduct a hearing on the resolution in mid-March. A proposed constitutional amendment must be passed by two separately-elected legislatures, and then approved by voters in a state-wide referendum. The earliest such a vote could take place is November 2008.
Senators who voted no on SJR 7 include:
Anita Bowser (D-Michigan City)
Billie Breaux (D-Indianapolis)
John Broden (D-South Bend)
Glenn Howard (D-Indianapolis)
Tim Lanane (D-Anderson)
Earline Rogers (D-Gary)
Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington)
Sam Smith (D-East Chicago)
Additional Rally Information
Organizers describe the rally as a silent protest intended to emphasize the attempts by the religious right to silence the gay and lesbian community. They also ask attendees to remember that they want no noise, rude behavior or disorderly conduct, and that rally supporters are asked to stay off the Statehouse grass, to avoid blocking entrances to the Statehouse and foot traffic on the sidewalks. 15 to 20 organizers of the event will be on hand to provide crowd control and to help attendees maintain order.
There will be several speakers, including the possibility of Senators who opposed the legislation speaking or making an appearance.
Attendees of the Rally are encouraged to make signs. Organizers suggestions include: “SJR7 – The Hate Debate” or “SJR7 – Blatant Discrimination” or “Eric Miller -Conservative Approach; Extremist Agenda” or “Hate is Not a Family Value” or “It’s Our Constitution Too”
More information about the rally, including a map of the Statehouse, flyers that can be distributed, and parking information is available at Stopthebigots.org.
Rally organizer Pepper Partin explains the motivation for the rally: “We are being persecuted because of our sexual orientation, and sexual orientation is no more of a choice than our height or our eye color or anything else that is part of our pre-determined make-up. So we must make sure people understand that we are not a subculture and this is not a lifestyle, and that is a big reason we must stop people like Eric Miller and his organization from making people think we are nature’s mistakes deserving of only table scraps beneath the table of equality. Our constitution is for everyone – not just for those who feel they are superior in some sense.”
Parking for the Rally
Attendees of the rally are urged to carpool to the event due to downtown parking and traffic considerations. Parking at Circle Center Mall may provide the best location.