Contacting Your Legislators about SJR-7

I’ve mentioned this several times, but it bears repeating. If you haven’t contacted your legislators about SJR-7 (or even if you already have!), you can do so in a number of ways.
Two sites have easy contact forms you can use, that look up your legislators for you based on the information you provide. You can use either or both of them to send a message to your legislator, and they both allow you to customize your message.
Stoptheamendment.org is one of the sites – go there and enter your zip code in the left-column under “Contact your Legislators” and it will take you to the form.
Indiana Equality also has a form on their Action Center that works similarly.
Also, if you want to look up your legislators and contact them directly by calling their office or sending a direct email, you can look up their contact information at Project Vote Smart. They also have a look-up by zipcode form in the left column of their home page.

Continue ReadingContacting Your Legislators about SJR-7

500 attend Rally, House Democrats Hide from Constitutents

Rally Attendees
About 500 people attended the Rally in the Indiana Statehouse, organized by Indiana Equality to address SJR-7, the amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and to support the hate crimes bill, which will include sexual orientation and gender identity. There were several speakers, including Candace Gingrich, lgbt civil rights activist and sister of Newt Gingrich.
Great Sign
See all 52 of my photos of the Rally on Flickr
Unfortunately, House Democrats were "in caucus" today, and were "unable" to meet with their constituents to talk about SJR-7, so a group of people, including Indiana Action Network members, IYG Youth and IU Students went to protest outside House Speaker Bauer’s office — chanting "Pat, Pat, come out and talk."
Protesting the Democrats being in Caucus
What happened next? Indiana Equality Lobbyist Mark St. John got angry at the attention being paid to House Speaker Bauer – gee, I wonder why? Maybe you can find the answer in this post on Advance Indiana – and forcefully grabbed Bil Browning of Indiana Action Network – with the cameras rolling.
I’m processing the video of WRTV’s coverage and uploading it to YouTube…
I happened to be standing right there (you can see me in the video), so I heard what St. John said — he fired Bil from his job at Lambda Consulting because Bil “betrayed his trust” in not getting permission for the impromptu protest at Bauer’s office. A while later, after he calmed down, he said that wasn’t going to happen, but I’m not sure what the repercussions will be in the future.
Incidentally, I also saw St. John grab and physically drag by the arm another protester – one of the IYG youth, I believe – away from the protest to have a heated debated about why the Democrats were in caucus – St. John was claiming that it had nothing to do with the Rally or SJR-7. I’m not sure I believe St. John’s claims about why the “caucus” happened. I do know that Representative Orentlicher, who was at the rally and at the impromptu protest after, was actively trying to get Bauer to come out and speak to the protesters.
In all, I hope the day was an effective event, but the fact that people were unable to lobby their Representatives was a pretty striking blow to the cause. The likelihood that all of the people signed up will be able to have face-to-face meetings with elected officials at other times in the future is pretty slim – many people were from out of town, or happened to have this day off work due to the President’s Day holiday. Face-to-face meetings are far more effective than phone calls and emails.

Continue Reading500 attend Rally, House Democrats Hide from Constitutents

University Domestic Partnership Benefits at Risk

In a neat bit of investigative work, Bil Browning discovered that SJR-7 author Brandt Hershman’s statements about the bill not affecting domestic partnership benefits for Purdue and Indiana University faculty members is not only false, but that he wrote the bill specifically to target those rights.

Bill uncovered legislation by Hershman to repeal those rights that had been killed several ago in the legislature – exposing Hershmans’s true intent. Read more about that here…

Now this won’t just mean that the faculty members who enjoy domestic partnership benefits will lose them if SJR-7 passes. It will mean that Purdue, IU, Ball State and other universities won’t be able to attract quality faculty members in the future, which will have a devastating effect on the quality of education in Indiana. The state of Wisconsin can testify to that:

This summer, Wisconsin lost a good deal of its edge in the nanotech revolution thanks to the Legislature’s refusal to provide domestic partner benefits to university employees. That refusal, plus the Legislature’s push to ban gay marriage, has prompted a leading nanotech researcher, Robert Carpick, an associate engineering physics professor, to leave the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a job at the University of Pennsylvania.

And if that, along with Michigan’s recent repeal of benefits for university employees doesn’t properly scare the crap out of Purdue and Indiana University, what’s going on in Kentucky right now should. A bill to strip universities of those rights in that state is moving through their state legislature, with some pretty serious affects:

Last year, during the debate over bills designed to improve Kentucky’s lagging math and science scores, it came up that the higher educational institutions in the state of Kentucky graduated only one qualified physics teacher last year. One.

Kentucky’s ability to attract qualified faculty to their sagging universities will die off as well, and the already poor quality of education that can’t even produce physics teachers now will deteriorate further.

Continue ReadingUniversity Domestic Partnership Benefits at Risk

Rally Reminder

Please don’t forget there’s a rally tomorrow against SJR-7 at the statehouse — indoors, 1 – 2:30 p.m. in the North Atrium of the Indiana State House, 200 W. Washington St. (enter North Entrance, off Ohio Street). Candace Gingrich will speak at 1:40 PM.
Many of you have President’s Day off tomorrow – please attend the rally. You would not only be doing it for my sake, but for your own; the Indiana Constitution belongs to you, too, and shouldn’t be amended to discriminate against anyone. You’d be striking a blow on behalf of your own rights as well.

Continue ReadingRally Reminder

Comparing the Indiana Legislature to the 20’s KKK is NOT Hyperbole

I’m sorry, RiShawn Biddle, but if you studied your history, like Chris Douglas and Gary Welsh have pointed out to you in several posts, you’d know better that to call it hyperbole. RiShawn is an editorialist for the Indianapolis Star, and posts to a “blog” on the newspaper’s site — which I still maintain is bizarre – if you write for a newspaper, it’s and editorial column, not a “blog.” Lately, RiShawn has taken it upon his bad self to tell the gay community that they need to be more civilized and “reasonable” while their rights are attack, claiming that making comparisons to the KKK and other oppressive bodies is “hyperbole.”
Gary Welsh points out [RiShawn Biddle Just Doesn’t Get It] that in the 1920’s the KKK was in the background of legislation much like SJR-7:

Under our former constitution, our esteemed legislature decided to enact Article 13 (appropriately numbered) to our old constitution. It excluded new black arrivals from the state, barred interracial marriages and prohibited a black man from testifying against a white man, among other things. One of the state’s leading newspapers, the Sentinel, endorsed Article 13 so that the state would not be “overrun with a miserable population” according to the “Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly.” There were legislators at the time who decried racism at the same time they cast a vote in favor of it. One such legislator was Sen. James Hester (D) of Brown County. He described the proposed laws as “inhuman, and will . . . be inoperative in enlightened communities.” He said he, nonetheless voted for it because he believed a majority of his constituents wanted it.” A Whig newspaper in Madison, Indiana, distraught at the position of lawmakers like Hester, wrote:

There seems to be a determined and studied prejudice, against those unfortunate citizens who have a black skin, in the Legislature of this State at the present time. Constitutional privileges and natural rights–to say nothing of human sympathy–seem to be but feeble barriers when opposed to this prejudice. Some of these gentlemen are evidently courting popularity under the false impression, that public sentiment is as insane and inhuman as they will, doubtless, succeed in proving themselves to be.

At that time in history, the only legislators who voted against these racist laws were the Whigs. The Republican Party was just being born, and the Democrats, who dominated the legislature during some of this dark period, embraced the racist agenda. In the 1920s, it was the Republican Party which dominated the legislature and carried the torch for the KKK, although a number of Democrats joined forces with them as well. Fortunately, Article 13 was nullified after the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War. Such discrimination has never made its way back into our state’s constitution, although there have been plenty of discriminatory laws enacted by our esteemed legislature.
Now, David Long, Brandt Hershman, Brent Steele and all the others who champion SJR-7 as the end-all, be-all solution to preserving the sanctity of marriage can profess all they want that they aren’t anti-gay bigots. The fact remains they are carrying the torch for folks from the religious right, such as Eric Miller, Jim Bopp and Micah Clark, who most assuredly are anti-gay bigots. The end result is the same as Sen. Hester understood back in the 1850s when he cast his lot with political expediency over the fundamental rights of black people. When legislators cast a vote for the anti-gay bigot’s agenda, they are endorsing this form of bigotry, just as those legislators who supported the KKK’s agenda in the 1920s and the organized racists of the 1850s endorsed institutionalized racism and bigotry. Everyone knows SJR-7 will do absolutely nothing to stem the breakdown of “traditional marriage” as represented by a growing divorce rate and an increasing number of children being born out of wedlock. It’s purpose is to punish gay people–nothing more and nothing less.

And Chris points out [The Goebbels Experiment] that the Jewish community here in Indianapolis, who have spoken eloquently against SJR-7, recognize the parallels to their own history:

“Shortly, you will be either looking the other way from, or even supporting, measures that will denude your Jewish engineering professors of their rights of citizenship, because of your distaste for them… well.. not for your personal professor or tutor, who might be friends, but for ‘Jews’, who really will not be… well…’German’ enough.
“Then your alma mater will strip your professor of his ability to support his family, including his spouse who is sick. You will think that somebody maybe should have done something, except you will be too busy and you will not want to risk your own career by being identified as a friend of the Jews… not any Jew specifically… after all some , some will be friends…but.. you know… ‘The Jews.’ Anyway, your professor, from whom you learned much and upon whom the department depended for at least one area of expertise, will leave for another place, America, where a university will be willing to employ him. You will think that is regrettable, but perhaps think it was just as well. Especially, since his position will open for somebody who will truly be a friend, and not some abstract, unfortunate Jew.
“You will protest that what follows then will be the actions of others, not your own, for it would be unreasonable to pin on you and your inaction the fact that your beautiful and peaceful Germany will go on to invalidate Jewish marriages, to attack Jewish participation in all economic life, and to drive Jews from their neighborhoods. When the rights of Jews are being stripped in their early stages, all those things will appear too absurd for you to imagine. The Jews who will protest will appear unreasonable and alarmist, and all the more distasteful for it. After all, yours will appear to be a civilized society; though it will become uncivilized because of the actions of others, it will not be because of you. You couldn’t be blamed for what happened later… not the ghetto… not the extermination…. not the destruction of the peace, beauty, and civilization. Who will have thought?”
Nice little mental game, isn’t it?

RiShawn would do well to spend a bit more time reading history and a bit less time lecturing gay citizens on how best to protest the erosion of their basic civil rights. For any kind of civil matters or divorce cases etc, people need to contact family lawyers serving Lapeer County.
To me — it’s all the same hate. The men pushing SJR-7 are no different, in my mind, than the guy who fired me from my job because I’m gay, or the guy who stalked and raped me, or the guy who pistol-whipped my roommate in the alley outside Greg’s Place downtown.
One takes their hate and puts it into action by crafting hate-filled legislation, and the other used the blunt-force of a gun handle against someone’s skull – why do I have to treat one differently then the other? They have the same devastating effect on my life, either way; I fail to see any real distinction between the two. But I have to engage in “principled, reasonable discussion” with one, but not the other? Mary, please.
A bigot by any name is still a fucking bigot.

Continue ReadingComparing the Indiana Legislature to the 20’s KKK is NOT Hyperbole

SJR-7 Will Eliminate Purdue’s Health Care Benefits

As Gary Welsh rightly points out in a must-read article on SJR-7 and Purdue University’s health care benefits, the infamous second paragraph of the proposed amendment will indeed eliminate health care benefits for unmarried partners that are currently used by 31 employees of the university.
The question is raised in the Lafayette Journal and Courier – where the university employees express concern, and are given completely false assurances by the SJR-7 author Brandt Hershman, and by “constitutional scholar” Jim Bopp that their benefits won’t be affected.
Trouble is, people like Bopp gave the same false assurances to Michigan state employees before the passage of a bill with the same sort of ambiguous paragraph in that state. And those unsuspecting people recently had their benefits strip from them by the courts.

Continue ReadingSJR-7 Will Eliminate Purdue’s Health Care Benefits

Rally at the Statehouse – next Monday

The rally — called the “Read the Fine Print” — will feature Candace Gingrich, sister of Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.
WHAT: “Read the Fine Print!” Rally at the Statehouse
WHEN: Monday, February 19, 2007 from 1:00 pm — 2:30 pm
(Presidents Day)
WHERE: Indiana Statehouse, North Atrium, 200 W. Washington
(Enter off Ohio Street)

Enter the Statehouse using the Ohio Street entrance. Please allow extra time, as you may have to go through security. Also be aware that street parking may be hard to find. The Circle Center Mall garage is only a few blocks away and relatively inexpensive.

Note that this is on President’s Day – a day when many people already have off work — so you can attend this rally. I’ll be there. You will have the opportunity to meet with your legislators at some time during or after the rally to speak your mind if you like (see information on training below.)

You can RSVP that you will be attending at this Indiana Equality link.

ALSO…

You can get training to lobby your legislator prior to the rally, in the morning on the same day. Indiana Equality, Human Rights Campaign, and Stop The Amendment will be providing a two-hour crash course in techniques for constituents to successfully communicate with and educate their State legislators.

WHAT: Lobbying Your Legislator 101
WHEN: Monday, February 19th, 2007 from 9:30am – 11:30am
(President’s Day)
WHERE: Christ Church Cathedral, 125 Monument Circle
COST: $5 (includes training, materials, and continental
breakfast)
Reserve your spot in lobbying training.

Topics of this session will include:
Do’s and Don’ts when talking to legislators
The “Marriage” Amendment

  • Process of amending Indiana?s Constitution
  • Background on the Amendment
  • Facts, talking points, and likely objections

Hate Crimes Legislation

  • How a bill becomes law
  • Background on Hate Crimes legislation
  • Facts, talking points, and likely objections

Street parking may be hard to find. The Circle Center Mall garage is only a few blocks away and relatively inexpensive.

Continue ReadingRally at the Statehouse – next Monday

SJR-7 Passes Senate

The bill to amend the Indiana Constitution to ban Marriage Equality passed the Senate today. As Gary Welsh notes on Advance Indiana, the right-wing hate battalion have managed to achieve something that even the KKK weren’t able to do when they held total control of state government – disenfranchise an entire unfavored minority group.

Here are the brave handful of Senators who voted against the SJR-7.

  • Anita Bowser (D-Michigan City) S8@in.gov
  • Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) S34@in.gov
  • John Broden (D-South Bend) S10@in.gov
  • Sue Errington (D-Muncie) S26@in.gov
  • Glenn Howard (D-Indianapolis) S33@in.gov
  • Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) S25@in.gov
  • Earline Rogers (D-Gary) S3@in.gov
  • Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington) S40@in.gov
  • Connie Sipes (D-New Albany) S46@in.gov
  • Karen Tallian (D-Portage) S4@in.gov

The bill will now go to committee in the House, probably sometime this week. If you haven’t already contacted your state legislators to tell them to stop them amendment, please, please do so. Heck, contact them even if you already have. Stoptheamendment.org has a handy form that lets you do so.

Continue ReadingSJR-7 Passes Senate

SJR-7 Passes Indiana Senate

The controversial, discriminatory Senate Joint Resolution 7 – to amend the Indiana Constitution to bar equal marriage rights – had a second reading in the Senate today, and was passed by the Senate, much to the State’s disgrace.

Apparently an amendment to remove the highly ambigous second paragraph of the bill was voted down, even though a similar paragraph in Michigan’s law recently caused domestic partner benefits to be struck down in that state.

The bill will now go to a House committee to be heard.

You can contact your legislators to tell them not to pass this law. Visit Stoptheamendment.org and enter your zip code. Their handy form will allow you to send a message quickly and easily.

Continue ReadingSJR-7 Passes Indiana Senate

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:

DIGEST OF INTRODUCED BILL
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