INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Equality will host a Statehouse gathering, the “Our Families Count!” rally, on February 9, 2006 from 1pm – 3pm. This event has been organized in response to a recent spate of legislation aimed at relegating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Hoosiers to second-class status.
“With daylight-savings time, toll roads, and property taxes on the docket, one would think the legislature has more important business to attend to than attacking gay families in this short session,” stated Walter Botich, Indiana Equality legislative committee co-chair.
Angered by advances in local human rights protections, Representative Jeff Thompson (R – Lizton) offered a proposal that was aimed at the LGBT community specifying that local government may not extend protections for employment or housing that is greater than existing state of federal statute. This proposal would have banned human rights protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity – effectively overturning existing laws in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Michigan City, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County.
All too often, LGBT families are either overlooked or discounted completely. Indiana Equality encourages all of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of the state to join them in announcing to the state government that “Our Families Count!”
“This is an exercise of our rights – and it’s happening in the Statehouse rotunda,” observed Kathy Sarris, president of Indiana Equality. “It’s time the State of Indiana started recognizing those rights.”
“It’s time for our community to stand up and be counted. We need to show that our families are just as important as other families around the state,” commented Jerame Davis, Indiana Equality communications committee chair and rally organizer. “We will not be forced into second-class status. We pay our taxes, participate in our communities, and raise our families just like all other Hoosiers. We should be treated equally.”
The “Our Families Count!” rally will feature speakers from several community organizations from around the state. Several legislators have been invited to speak.
Founded in 2003, Indiana Equality is a coalition of organizations from around the state who are focused on providing basic human rights for Indiana’s LGBT citizens. Participating organizations include Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA), Indiana Action Network (IAN), Justice, Inc., Indiana PFLAG, Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) as well as regional steering committees in the Indianapolis, Bloomington, Evansville, Richmond, Ft. Wayne, Lafayette, and South Bend areas.
I will be attending this rally on March 8th, and I’m inviting you all to join me. I will be one of the crowd-control folks in a lovely orange vest. If you want to get together for a sign-making party, please let me know; this event is only a few short days away.
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 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.
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. If it passes the house (it is expected to) it will need to be passed again in a future legislative session, and with then be placed on a ballot referendum for Hoosiers to vote on.
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.
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 [link deprecated: http://www.stopthebigots.org] Stopthebigots.org.
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.