The importance of contacting your elected officials yourself

I’m going to emphasize my point at the very beginning of this post, rather than toward the end: If you don’t want people to speak on your behalf — to potentially agree to things you don’t agree with, or to make decisions for you — then you have to speak up yourself. If you don’t do that, you bear at least a bit of the blame if someone does something in your name that you wouldn’t do.

The only way that you can get misrepresented is if you don’t represent your own views, from your own mouth.

Why am I saying this? Well, remember back in October, just before the election, I posted a message entitled “Oh my god, Did Bauer just throw us under the bus?” in which then Indiana Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, who is now Majority leader, said this about SJR-7:

“I just think that the only way for (Republicans) not to (continue to) demagogue it is to have a redundancy. It’s too bad it has to go in the constitution, but so be it,” Bauer said. “It’s not worth the time, the trouble, to point out that it’s not a problem (in Indiana), so it’s better just to have the vote and see how it goes.”
Under GOP leadership, both chambers of the General Assembly passed a same-sex marriage amendment last year. The measure must be approved by the newly elected Legislature next year or in 2008 before it could go on the statewide ballot for approval from voters.

At the time, the statement shocked the hell living shit out of the gay community, who had expected (and been assured) that Democrats were going to continue to fight like hell against SJR-7, including not letting it get heard at all. No one could figure out why Bauer had suddenly thrown in the towel, or suggested that it was okay that gay people aren’t allowed to get married.

Lately some of the speculation about that has come out into the open in the gay community. First Ted Fleischaker, publisher of The Word, printed an editorial in this issue of his paper (PDF download), generalizing that Bauer changed his public stance on SJR-7 because some unnamed “community leaders” told him that the gay community would be okay with SJR-7 succeeding if it helped him get leverage on other issues with Republicans.
Then Gary Welsh took the issue a bit further in a recent blog post by naming the “community leader(s)” who supposedly sold us all down the river – He says it was Mark St. John – so that Bauer could throw us under a bus.

Whether or not that occurred – this much is true: the vast majority of LGBT Hoosiers not only want gay marriage, but they want SJR-7 defeated, as swiftly as possible. The idea that they’d be okay with it passing – universally and patently false.

I myself want to get married more than anything in the world, and if I had a magic wand, I would consign SJR-7 to the lowest depths of hell, along with any person who even thought for a second about supporting it.

So if this did actually happen – the gay community would indeed be justified in raining hellfire and brimstone on the heads of gay “community leaders” who agreed to such a thing. (Not that we have the time to waste energy on doing that now, since first things first – we have to defeat SJR-7.)

HOWEVER – if more people from the gay community communicated with their legislators about what they actually want, no one could get away with saying something like this, if it occurred.

To quote my mother’s favorite Longfellow poem, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” We can’t let other people do this for us. Every single gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered person needs to step up, for our own sakes, and that of future generations.

Continue ReadingThe importance of contacting your elected officials yourself

SJR-7 Update

SJR-7, the bill to amend the Indiana Constitution to prevent equal marriage rights for gay people, was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and will soon be presented to the full Senate for voting – probably next week.

That’s pretty bad news, especially since two amendments to the legislation that were presented were struck down and it will be going to the Senate as is.

The supporting and opposition testimony at the hearing was heavily about that highly controversial and very ambiguous second sentence that I blogged about earlier. Let me refresh your memory:

Definition of marriage. Provides that marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman. Provides that Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Yeah, that’s the one. The guy who introduced the bill, Republican Senator Brandt Hershman, admitted under questioning that even he doesn’t know what “legal incidents of marriage” actually means from a legal standpoint, although he is for some reason confident that it won’t affect anyone but gay people, and that all the other consequences that I blogged about, and that constitutional scholars are sending up red flags about, will never, ever come to pass, gee fucking whiz. Not that he had any explanation about why that wouldn’t occur. We apparently should just trust him. Right.

Both amendments to the legislation that were struck down were about that second clause – one sought to alter it so that legislatures in the future could, when Hoosiers are no longer hate-filled bigots, alter the definition of marriage to be defined in whatever way future Indiana citizens see fit. That was struck down.

The other amendment sought to remove the second sentence altogether, so the ambiguity and potential future lawsuits and controversy that will inevitable arrive from it don’t occur. That, too was struck down.

The defeat of the amendments and the approval of the bill all got votes of 7-4.

Voting against this bill:
Sen. Anita Bowser (D-Michigan City), Sen. John Broden (D-South Bend), Sen. Sam Smith (D-East Chicago) and Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson).

and the bigots voting in favor:
Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), Sen. Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger), Sen. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville), Sen. David Ford (R-Hartford City) and Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette).

As I said, we’ll be marking it down on their permanent records.
What happens next with SJR-7?

I’m going to project a bit here, based on my experience following legislation in the past.

First it will go to the Senate – probably next week, between February 5-9. With any luck it will die there. But it probably won’t, ’cause our Senate is full of bigots who hate gay people. But you should be sending a slew of calls and email to your Senators, no matter what.

If it passes the Senate, it will go to a hearing before a House Committee, similar to today’s hearing. That would probably happen the week of February 12-16. Just in time for Valentines Day! How fracking lovely. If we are very lucky, it will die there. If we’re only sorta lucky, they’ll at least alter that second clause before approving it. (please Jesus, Buddha and Hanuman.) Again, contacting the people on the committee will be helpful critical.

If it doesn’t die there, it would be voted on in the full House, which would probably happen around February 20th or soon after. If it gets to this point – that’s VERY VERY BAD. Which means you better get your ass to the Statehouse, or if you or a family member is on your deathbed, send massive mail or phone calls. And ask your friends and family to do the same.

Continue ReadingSJR-7 Update

links for 2007-01-31

Continue Readinglinks for 2007-01-31

Locked on the roof? Seriously?

I really loved the West Wing, most especially when Sorkin was writing for it, and I really do like Studio 60, for the most part. But lately the weird thing Danny’s doing to Jordan, the sort of creepy-stalkerish, pre-rapey, not really romantic, “refusal to take no for an answer” thing is really disturbing, especially since we know Sorkin’s setting this up to have them get together eventually. Note to Aaron – No really does mean no, dude. If you want me to start surveying the women around to to see if you’ve pulled this crap on them, I will. I’m not kidding. Cause you apparently think this kind of thing works in real life. But In real life it only works if you’re trying to get a restraining order.
And last night’s episode, where they get locked on the roof? Um, no. Like Jane Espenson calling for a moratorium on scenes where the character kicks a machine and it suddenly starts working, I’m making a new rule – no more locked rooftops. Really. Get a frackin’ key before you go there. Why would the door on the roof need to be locked anyway? Is Spider-man going to break in?
For all Aaron’s bitching that his audience just isn’t smart enough to get him, he certainly does insult the little intelligence we do have. But I guess I’m “just a blogger” so my voice shouldn’t be equal. After reading that Chicago Tribune piece I’m tempted not to watch the show ever again.

Continue ReadingLocked on the roof? Seriously?

My Thoughts on SJR-7

The SJR-7 legislation to amend the Indiana constitution is going to be heard in committee tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. The committee will meet in the Senate Chambers – 3rd floor of the Indiana Statehouse (200 W. Washington Street in Indianapolis).

Everyone is invited to attend – a good crowd against the legislation will make an impact, so if you can come, please do. There will be an hour of testimony against the legislation. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to say anything, because they probably have some people lined up to speak already, but if I got a chance, here’s a rough cut of what I might say:

The average Hoosier, if they read this legislation on a ballot, is not going to understand it. They’re not going to realize how flawed the legislation is; that it doesn’t just affect gay and lesbian Hoosiers, but it also affects them. They’re not going to realize that it can invalidate the domestic violence laws that protect them (as it has in Ohio) or that it can repeal their health care benefits if they work for the government, or that it can affect their financial arrangements and their relationships with people they love.

And unfortunately, we are small minority of people. We don’t have the numbers to knock on every door and explain to every Hoosier how damaging this legislation can be not just to us, but to them.

So Hoosiers may see this on a ballot and vote for it out of ignorance.

But you’re not. You legislators know what this amendment really means. You know that it’s considered flawed, because we’ve explained it you you, and we’ve had legal scholars analyze it and tell you. We shown you what’s going on in Ohio, and we’ve testified about how it tears apart gay and lesbian families.

You can’t claim ignorance on this.

So if you vote in favor of this legislation, you’re acting with malicious intent. And we are here to be witnesses to that.
If you wrote this legislation, if you vote for it, if you support and defend it… If you engrave this flawed piece of intolerance into the Indiana Constitution, we’re here to let you know that you’re names will be engraved with it. We’ll etch your names in stone, right next to it, so your legacy will be clear.

So that five years or so from now, when it people see the devastation this causes gay families, and when the average Hoosier realizes how it affects them, too… and when people start to say, “who wrote this crappy amendment?” they’ll have a handy, permanent reference point.

And 50 years from now, when you grandchildren come back to extract this painful piece of bigotry and intolerance out of their constitution like a bad tooth (and I have faith they will, because I believe in the goodness of mankind) they will do so with a sense of shame – because they will see your names – their names – attached to this, and they will know that their parents or grandparents gave them this legacy.

Think about this. 50 or 100 years from now, no one will remember who you are, or what you voted on. They won’t know if you’re good or bad. But they’ll know you voted on for intolerance, because we’ll be standing as silent witnesses to it, and we’ll make sure they remember you for this.

Continue ReadingMy Thoughts on SJR-7

links for 2007-01-30

Continue Readinglinks for 2007-01-30

Tony Dungy to Speak For Anti-Gay Hate Group

This is really disturbing – Colts coach Tony Dungy will be speaking at a dinner for the Indiana Family Institute, which is a right-wing hate group whose primary purpose is to promote hatred towards gay people.

Make no mistake about what their goals really are – in the same way the the Irish Republican army has a legal, public face in Sein Finn, and the “European-American Unity and Rights Organization” is a modern-day face to the KKK, the Indiana Family Institute is an “appears to be innocuous” religious front for people whose real political goal is to see me put in jail or driven out of the state. Among other things, they are promoting SJR-7, as well as opposing a hate crimes bill and anti-discrimination laws. But their agenda is far deeper than that, and these are no garden-variety Christians.

Man, I already have an email about this – IFI says they’re religious, but what they’re pursuing is political – they lobby the statehouse and pursue legislation (publically. Privately, they pursue more radical stuff) – so this isn’t Tony Dungy expressing his religious beliefs. This it Tony Dungy fund-raising for a political goal – and a hate agenda.

“An opportunity to financially support the Indiana Family Institute will be presented.” Great. I’m posting the invitation from their site, but editing out the contact information. I’m also linking to a report about the site, rather than the site itself. I don’t want to be responsible for driving any traffic their way.

That really puts damper on my excitement for the Colts and the Super Bowl. I had no idea that Tony Dungy hated me. I’m hardly going to be cheering for him now. It happens every time – you get all excited about being a part of something cool, and somebody comes along to remind you – “hey, you’re not really one of us. You don’t belong.” Even though I’ve been out for over 20 years now, it still stings, every time.

IFI 2007 banquet Tony Dungy

No Colts

Continue ReadingTony Dungy to Speak For Anti-Gay Hate Group

links for 2007-01-29

Continue Readinglinks for 2007-01-29


Twitter is a strange little social network application that lets you give short bulletins of what you’re doing right now. You can update via text message or Instant Messenger, as well as online. You can link to your friends to see what they’re doing, and you can use the built in RSS feeds to keep up with everyone. That’s all it does. For some reason, it’s a hot new thing to do for several of the big name bloggers, though, who’ve written articles about it, so I was intrigued.

So here’s my profile. If you’re already on, let me know. If you get on, let me know. I just want to see what all the buzz is about.

Twitter Bird
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