Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Croddy Responds: "I Have Love In My Heart For You Not Bigotry"

Three weeks after Advance Indiana posted a story criticizing Republican 7th congressional district candidate, Bob Croddy, for his sharp attacks on Congresswoman Julia Carson for her support of gay civil rights and opposition to a constitutional ban on same sex marriages, Croddy has responded with an open letter to the people of Indianapolis via a comment posted early this morning to the original story posted on June 9, 2005, entitled “Croddy’s Cruddy Campaign Against Carson.” Croddy says he believes Advance Indiana has “misstated [his] feelings on these matters.” Croddy says he has reread his press release to which Advance Indiana's criticism was directed several times, and that “[n]owhere [does he] read hatred or bigotry.” Croddy continued, “I have love in my heart for you not bigotry.”

Croddy defended his criticism of Carson by pointing to the five Democrat councilors who also voted against Proposal 68, including Patrice Abdullah, Ron Gibson, Mary Moriarty Adams, Sherron Franklin and City-County Council President Steve Talley. Croddy rhetorically asked if “these five Democrats displayed hatred and gay bigotry” as well. He suggested Advance Indiana “write more about them.” Croddy said he was “born and raised in Center Township” and “has a good pulse of the people in Marion County.” He also seemingly dismissed Advance Indiana editor because he “is from Illinois.” Croddy said, “I don’t know many people from Illinois.”

Advance Indiana is pleased that Mr. Croddy took the time to read our story and respond to it. Since Mr. Croddy does not understand how his press release displayed hate and bigotry towards gays and lesbians, Advance Indiana will endeavor to instruct him. Mr. Croddy issued a press release, which was entitled “Extreme Liberal Democrat Leaders Like Julia Carson Are Wrong to Push Same Sex Marriage," immediately after it became publicly known that Congresswoman Julia Carson had called together leading Marion County Democrats and members of the gay and lesbian community to scold the five Democratic councilors for their opposition to Proposal 68, which would protect Indianapolis residents from discrimination in matters of employment and housing on the basis of their sexual orientation or identity. Croddy’s press release said, “Julia Carson’s recent scolding of local Democrat leaders who chose not to support the city-county council proposal to classify lifestyle (emphasis added) as a special interest group shows just how out of touch those of us in Marion County.” The release continued, “She chooses extreme liberal special interest groups (emphasis added) in Washington and San Francisco over her constituents here in Indianapolis time and time again.”

Mr. Croddy’s use of the words “to classify lifestyle as a special interest group” in describing Proposal 68 says it all. A lifestyle is something you choose Mr. Croddy, like whether to live in the city or in the country, or whether to eat healthy or to pig out on junk food. One’s sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice. Every major medical organization has long since recognized that homosexuality is a normal, natural, and fixed sexual orientation. When Mr. Croddy suggests that people choose to be gay or lesbian, he provides comfort to those who are intolerant of gays and lesbians and fuels hate and bigotry towards them. Mr. Croddy further inflames his rhetoric with the use of “extreme liberal special interest groups in Washington and San Francisco” to describe all gays and lesbians. By broadly categorizing an entire group of citizens who come from all walks of life, who include both Republicans and Democrats, who attend church, who pay taxes, who fight and die for their country, and who want the same basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as he enjoys as extremists, he reveals the truly deep-seated disdain he has for gays and lesbians.

Rep. Carson’s speech to local Democrats had nothing to do with the subject of same sex marriages. Yet that didn’t stop Mr. Croddy from raising the issue in his press release. He implied that Rep. Carson’s opposition to the constitutional ban on same sex marriages meant that she did not “want to protect our families”, and that she wanted to discard “thousands of years of tradition.” To suggest that a formal union between two loving people of the same sex is a threat to your’s or anyone else’s family is gay-baiting at its lowest common denominator.

As to your suggestion that the five Democratic councilors who voted against Proposal 68 were not equally criticized for their votes, that is simply not true. Advance Indiana and the GLBT community in general has been highly critical of those members, particularly Patrice Abdullah, who said he based his vote on his religious beliefs. Unlike you, however, none of those five accompanied their votes with hate-filled bigoted comments as you did in your press release. That is why you were singled out for criticism.

Advance Indiana is also very bothered by the fact that you would be dismissive of its editor, Gary R. Welsh, simply because he is originally from Illinois. He in fact was born in Terre Haute, Indiana and has lived in Indianapolis for the past 15 years, not that it should matter in the least bit. As Advance Indiana explored in earlier reporting of D.C. Stephenson’s and the KKK’s reign of terror over Indiana politics in the 1920s, nativist sentiment was one of the driving forces behind their bigoted “Americanization” agenda. Your dismissiveness of Advance Indiana’s editor because he is from Illinois originally and not born and raised here as you demonstrates that you think just like D.C. Stephenson and his KKK adherents in the 1920s.

I truly wish Mr. Croddy that I could believe you when you say “I have love in my heart and not bigotry”, but the words you chose to use in your press release and your reply letter to Advance Indiana's reporting belies that. For those of you interested, the full text of Mr. Croddy’s letter to the Indianapolis community is furnished below.

Dear Indianapolis Friends,

I believe the writer above has misstated my feelings on these matters. First, 5 Democrats on the City -County Council agree with me. To make it seem like I am extreme is kind of silly. The vote broke down 18 to 11 against ordinance 68-2005 -Democrats and Republicans together voted this ordinance down. I simply agree with City-County Councilors Patrice Abduallah(D),Sherron Franklin(D),Ron Gibson(D),Mary Moriarty Adams(D),Steve Talley(D) and the 13 out of 14 Republicans that voted this ordinance down. Do these five Democrats display hatred and gay bigotry? Maybe you should write more about them. Does Bob Croddy display hatred and gay bigotry? No -I don't think so. The fact is...I have only love in my heart for my fellow man/woman. I am no judge or jury on these matters. I have love in my heart for you not bigotry. I have read my press release several times. Nowhere do I read hatred or bigotry. The way I see it this urban Republican born and raised in Center Township has a good pulse of the people here in Marion County’s 7th. My family dates back close to 100 years in Center Township. I understand the people I come from just fine. My pulse seems to be in-line with thousands of Democrats in Marion County. I understand the man who wrote this article is from Illinois. I don’t know many people from Illinois. Again, I agree with the 5 Democrats City-County Councilors in Marion County but with only love in my heart for my fellow citizen.

Bob Croddy
2:18 AM

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Foolhardiness of the Supreme Court's Neutrality in Ten Commandment Cases

On the last day of its term, the Supreme Court handed down two separate anxiously awaited decisions involving the public display of the Ten Commandments on public property. To the dismay of those looking for the Court to enunciate a clear principle to guide us on future interpretations of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, the Court gave two entirely different results applying different principles to reach its end. As Justice Antonin Scalia aptly put it in his dissenting opinion to one of the cases, we have a "dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court" instead of judicial opinion "grounded in constitutionally applied principle." The absurdity of the Court's action in the two cases was evidenced by the witnessing of supporters on both sides of the issue declaring victory on the steps of the Supreme Court.

In the first case, McCreary County v. ACLU, the Court was confronted with the display of the Ten Commandments on the walls of the courthouses in two Kentucky counties, which displays were ordered by the respective legislative bodies of the two counties. Both the legislative directives and the ceremonies surrounding the display of the Ten Commandments evidenced a religious purpose for them. The Court ruled in a 5-4 vote that the display of the Ten Commandments in the Kentucky courthouses failed the test of "neutrality" the Court has enunciated in the past in the context of First Amendment Establishment Clause cases. According to the "neutrality" principle, the First Amendment "mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion." The test used by the Court in determining "neutrality" in the McCreary case is the so-called Lemon test. This test was first established in Lemon v. Kurtzman in 1971. This case involved the use of state funds by the State of Pennsylvania to subsidize private, religious schools, which the Court struck down. In reaching its decision, the Court devised a 3-part test to determine a statute's constitutionality under the First Amendment: (1) the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; (2) the principal effect of the statute must be one that neither advances religion nor inhibits religion; and (3) the statute must not foster an excessive entanglement with religion. In a majority opinion written by Justice David Souter, the Court in McCreary, looking at the legislative history and circumstances surrounding the display of the Ten Commandments in the Kentucky courthouses, concluded that their purpose was for religious purposes and not secular purposes. The Court similarly ruled 25 years ago in striking down the placement of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky public classrooms in Stone v. Graham applying these same principles.

In the second case, Van Orden v. Perry, the Court was presented with a public display of the Ten Commandments on the lawn of the Texas State House. The display here was a gift from the Eagles, a group described as being "social, civic and patriotic", made 40 years ago to the State of Texas. The Eagles' purpose in making the gift was described as "shaping civic morality." The dedication ceremony for the display was presided over by two state legislators. In a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Court ruled that the display did not violate the Establishment Clause. The Court, on the same day it decided McCreary and on the same matter of displays of the Ten Commandments on public property, refused to apply the Lemon test as it had in the McCreary case. The majority opinion dissed the Lemon test, even questioning its future. While acknowleging that the Ten Commandment are purely "religious", the Chief Justice opined that Moses was also a "lawgiver" in as much as he was a religious figure, and that the Ten Commandments have an "undeniable historical meaning." The Court reasoned that the display was far more "passive" in this case than was the display in the Stone case, that a person (including the plaintiff in this case) had to go out of his/her way to view the display, and that noone had complained of the display until 40 years after their original placement. The Court concluded that the display served a dual purpose, "partaking of both religion and government," and as such, did not violate the Establishment Clause. A single member of the Court, Justice Steven Breyer, switched his vote in Van Orden to uphold the public display of the Ten Commandments at the Texas State House. In his concurring opinion, Breyer said "a display that communicates not simply a religious message, but a secular message as well" does not violate the Establishment Clause.

The Court, in reaching two very different outcomes, on essentially the same matters has undermined its own credibility. Justice Souter in the majority opinion in McCreary lamented that the "Court lacks the comfort of categorical absolutes." Justice Scalia, however, got it right, if not on the ultimate outcome, that "[w]hat the Court means by this lovely euphemism is that sometimes the Court chooses to decide cases on the principle that government cannot favor religion, and sometimes it does not." The lack of a constitutionally grounded principle leads to the "dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court" as Scalia sharply explained. The only conclusion one can reach by the outcome in these two decisions is that one member, Justice Breyer, thought it not right that the Court have a single guiding principle to guide us in Establishment Clause cases. With the likely retirement in the near future of Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor, perhaps Justice Breyer did not want to risk inciting the "religious right" on the eve of future confirmation votes. Whatever his reason, his failure to take a principled position has left us all at the whim of five justices at any future point in time to make a decision that fits their current thinking. In soing doing, he has completely "discredited" what principles the Court had enunciated in the past in order to avoid the "foolhardiness" as Scalia suggested if the Court dared apply its Lemon test consistently.

Indy HRO Proponents Need Your Help

Proponents of Proposal 68, the proposed human rights ordinance before the Indianapolis City-County Council, need your help. Some of the councilors who voted against Proposal 68 in April said they did so because they knew of no examples of any Indianapolis residents being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or identity. Most notably, City-County Council President Steve Talley, who voted against the proposal, said he would reconsider his vote if it is demonstrated to him that discrimination has occurred in the past. I am posting an open letter to the community which explains to you how you can become more involved and, specifically, how you can communicate examples of discrimination with which you have experienced.

An open letter to the LGBT community and supporters:

Indianapolis City-County Councilors Jackie Nytes (D) and J. Scott Keller (R) are working diligently to pass a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) this fall that includes sexual orientation and gender identity protections. But they cannot do it alone. They need our help. Four main ways you and the community can get involved have been identified:

Tell Your Story

If you have a story of discrimination or prejudice in housing, employment, education or other aspects of public life because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, let Jackie and Scott know! These stories are extremely important! Remember, most of the councilors who voted "NO" the last time were not convinced that LGBT discrimination actually exists in Marion County. We have to change that perception! They are also interested in knowing whether your company already has protections in place and whether or not the company enforces them. You do not have to share your name or address, just your story. In turn, these stories will be shared with the City-County Council to emphasize the need for anti-discrimination language in the Human Rights Ordinance. Without these stories, it will be difficult to justify the need for the HRO. Get your stories in today!Please visit to email your stories to Jackie and Scott. Out Word Bound is also collecting letters. You can call them at 317-951-9100 or drop off your letters at 625 N. East Street in Indianapolis.

Attend a Town Hall Meeting

The Equal Opportunity Advisory Board (EOAB) will be holding a series of town hall meetings in late July and early August. Three meetings will be held in all, one on the north side, one downtown and one on the south side. The times, dates, and locations of these meetings will be shared as soon as they are announced. Marion County residents are needed who are willing to publicly share their LGBT discrimination experiences. These stories can also come from Marion County parents and friends who can testify to discrimination faced by their children and family members. The religious extremists who derailed the last HRO attempt will be there in force testifying as to why we do not need protection. It is vitally important that these meetings be well attended by the LGBT community and its supporters. Linda Perdue will be coordinating people who are willing to publicly testify. Please visit and check the "Town Hall Meeting" box if you are willing to testify.

Meet with Your City-County Councilor

Members of the LGBT community as well as their families and friends are encouraged to meet with targeted City-County Councilors. These meetings would consist of 2-5 participants personally talking with councilors as to why the proposed changes to the HRO are necessary. Walter Botich and Bil Browning from IE Region 8 will coordinate these meetings. This could have a huge impact on the councilors vote this fall. You will not be alone at these meetings and advisors from a variety of groups are available to help you prepare! This is one of the most valuable tools we have as a community - don't let this opportunity to talk face-to-face with your representative to pass you by! PFLAG members are especially encouraged to respond. Please contact Walter and Bil through to pinpoint your council district and to coordinate meeting times. Check the box marked "Meet with my councilor."

Be Ready to Contact your City-County Councilor

The first attempt to pass this HRO was thwarted by a flood of email from people who did not even live in Indiana. When the time comes, be ready to email or call your councilor to urge them to support the HRO. These messages do not have to be long and only have to state that you support the passage of the Human Rights Ordinance. This update to the current Human Rights Ordinance is extremely important to our community and Marion County as a whole. If you want these legal protections, then it is up to you. Your stories, attendance at town hall meetings, and face-to-face meetings with your councilors are all tremendously valuable. Stand up and be counted! Through education and better laws, we can create a community where all are treated fairly and diversity is embraced. Help make Indianapolis a better place for all citizens - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Poll Finds Illinois Voters Overwhelmingly Oppose Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriages

A poll recently commissioned by Equality Illinois to benchmark voter attitudes towards gay and lesbian citizens in Illinois found that on 9 out of 10 issues surveyed, Illinoisans supported granting equal rights to gays and lesbians. The survey found that while the Land of Lincoln was not ready to support gay marriages, an overwhelming majority of its citizens were opposed to amending either the U.S. or Illinois constitutions to ban gay marriages. The poll, which was commissioned by the Glengariff Group of Chicago, was conducted between June 6 and June 8, 2005 and surveyed the views of 600 random, digital dial callers with a plus or minus margin of error of 4%.

The survey found that 38% support gay marriage while 49% oppose gay marriage. This split on gay marriage the poll found was the only issue on which Illinois voters do not support equal rights for gays and lesbians according to the poll. By a margin of 53% to 36%, Illinois voters favored allowing civil unions between gays and lesbians. The poll also found public support on a variety of issues, including hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, health benefits for government employees gay partners, filing joint tax returns, social security/pension rights and adoption rights. More importantly, the poll found that Illinois voters by a margin of 70% to 23% opposed amending the U.S. constitution, and by a margin of 67% to 27% opposed amending the state constitution, to ban gay marriages. Among those surveyed the poll found that 56% of Illinois voters say they know a friend or family member who is gay or lesbian. Those persons knowing a gay or lesbian friend or family member supported gay and lesbian rights by a margin of 24% over those who did not know a friend or family member who was gay or lesbian.

If you remove Chicago from Illinois, you have a state that is very similar demographically and culturally to the State of Indiana. While the poll found the strongest support for gay rights in the City of Chicago, the central and southern parts of the state were nearly as equally opposed to amending the U.S. or Illinois constitutions to ban gay marriages. For example, there was opposition to an amendment to the U.S. constitution among central Illinois voters by a margin of 70% to 24%, and among southern Illinois voters by a margin of 58% to 35%. That compares to a margin of 74% to 19% of Chicago voters who oppose a U.S. constitutional amendment. Very similar results were found for the strong opposition to a state constitutional amendment. While Democrats were more likely to oppose a constitutional amendment than Republicans, the poll found that a clear majority of Republicans also opposed a constitutional amendment.

Among other issues, the poll found the greatest public support for hospital visitation rights and the least public support for adoption results. The poll did not include the issue of discrimination in employment and housing. The Illinois General Assembly approved and Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyevich signed a new law in January which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The survey results showed support on the following issues as follows:

Hospital visitation rights (77%-17%)
Inheritance rights (61%-30%)
Health benefits for partners of government employees (56%-35%)
Filing of joint tax returns (55%-38%)
Inheritance benefits for social security and pensions (54%-39%)
Adoption rights (48%-44%)

Advance Indiana does not believe such a comprehensive poll on gay and lesbian civil rights has been taken in the State of Indiana. However, Advance Indiana would not be surprised to see similar numbers in a poll taken here. Most importantly, it shows very strong public support for providing equal rights to gays and lesbians on a whole host of issues, laying aside the issue of gay marriage. It should be noted that the pollster conducting the Illinois poll, Glengariff Group, is headed by a Republican. Richard Czuba, the president of Glengariff Group, formerly worked for the Michigan Republican Party and former Governor John Engler. He has conducted political polls for candidates running for president, Congress, statewide and state legislative races.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Howey Explores GOP Rift With Evangelical Christians: Reports on Miller's Self-Dealing

State House political reporter Brian Howey took a closer look in this week’s edition of the Howey Political Report at the developing rift in the Indiana Republican Party between moderates led by Governor Mitch Daniels and conservative, Christian fundamentalists like House Speaker Brian Bosma, Micah Clark and Eric Miller. As an example of the party's division, Howey focused on Clark’s angry reaction to Governor Daniel’s EEO Policy of non-discrimination towards state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and identity as we have reported at length here at Advance Indiana. “His comment to the Indianapolis Star-- ‘I don’t believe in the big tent. I don’t believe you get to be that big by offending a large portion of your base'—exposed a fissure within the Republican Party,” reported Howey. Howey observed, “It is a party where the evangelical Christian right can turn out between 25 and 32 percent of a primary vote for people such as John R. Price in the 1988 U.S. Senate race or Eric Miller in the 2004 governor’s race.” “That leaves at least two-thirds of the Republican Party in the moderate column,” Howey commented.

Howey opines that modern Indiana Republicans have focused on: “keep government out of our private lives; of efficient, limited government; of low taxes.” Clark, who heads the non-profit American Family Association of Indiana , is the first Indiana Republican to openly advocate against the “big tent” that Ronald Reagan first talked about more than three decades ago according to Howey. Howey says, “It is further evidence that the band of Hoosier Republicanism is growing wider, stretching far, far to the right.” Howey continues, “But since the evangelical right took over the Indiana House leadership with the ascension of Brian Bosma and State Representative Eric Turner, Republicans are a conflicted party even as they control the executive and legislative branches of government,” The story cites Bosma’s former chief of staff, Don Blinzinger, as attributing the sharp move to the right in the House leadership when Bosma and Turner replaced moderates Paul Mannweiler and John Keeler. Bosma hired an Iowa campaign operative, Steve Grubbs, who devised gay-bashing campaign tactics that helped elect State Representatives Bill Davis, Billy Bright, Bruce Borders and Troy Woodruff in 2004 to give Republicans their slim majority. Blinzinger is quoted as saying, “What I saw him do beginning in 2000 and even more so in 2004 was to play off the national Republican politics.” That paved the way for the “evangelical right” to “push for the marriage amendment,” Howey said. Blinzinger predicted that “an increased number of Republicans will have primary opponents”, and he “see[s] the Christian right becoming even more strident.”

State Representative Luke Messer, who is also the Indiana Republican Party’s executive director, insists that the party is still “committed to the big tent” according to the report. However, Messer says, “Most Hoosiers are opposed to gay marriage, but they believe there should be certain legal protections.” Messer, unfortunately, did not offer Howey any specifics on what those “certain legal protections” should be. Howey noted that other Republicans are fighting back against the takeover of the Indiana Republicans by the evangelical Republicans. He discussed the formation of a new group of moderate Republicans called “First Republicans,” which is being spear-headed by Indianapolis attorney Syd Steele, who ironically works for House Speaker Brian Bosma’s law firm. Close Daniel’s confident Bill Oesterle, who has spoken out publicly to Indiana Republicans about the need to be more tolerant and inclusive of the GLBT community says he’s not engaged in an “escalation” to the resistance Daniels is getting from Micah Clark and Eric Miller according to the report. Oesterle said, “My comments to our spring dinner were a fact. Republicans are going to be conscious of differing views. Micah Clark is operating at the fringes. Most people don’t believe in a party that is not inclusive.” Howey also quotes Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh, who started Advance Indiana blog site in response to the hate and bigotry Christian fundamentalists like Miller and Clark have been directing at the GLBT community. “You can replace all the references to gays with blacks and women and see how all of them were tied to Christian [fundamentalist] beliefs,” Welsh said. “The Party of Lincoln was always on the right side of civil rights.”

Howey, who describes Governor Daniels as a moderate, aptly pointed out “[w]hat the Micah Clarks and Eric Millers don’t understand is that the more they beat up on Governor Daniels, the more friends he is likely to make in the middle, especially with the ‘late deciding women’ who detest intolerance.” Howey concluded, “Miller’s Advance America can deliver 2,000 people for rallies at the State House or pump out a burst of e-mails[,][b]ut they don’t win elections; they enforce litmus tests.” After Howey's report Clark stepped up his criticism of Daniels even more. Clark, whose reaction to Daniel's EEO Policy has been nothing short of hysteria, is now telling his followers that Daniel's "radical" policy is even opposed by Congressman Barney Frank, a gay Democrat from Massuchusets.

This week’s Howey Political Report also ran excerpts from Advance Indiana's previous reporting on how Eric Miller has enriched himself through blatant self-dealing while serving as executive director of Advance America. Judging by the internet traffic to Advance Indiana over the past 24 hours, it is generating a lot of interest. The Howey Political Report is subscribed to by state officeholders, legislators, lobbyists and political enthusiasts across the state of Indiana.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Miller Continues to Flaunt Non-Profit Status

Eric Miller returned this week to the campaign trail, taking his campaign of hate and bigotry which he calls Advance America, to the land of RVs in search of more tax-exempt, tax-deductible dollars to re-fuel his efforts. Speaking at a crowded luncheon in the Matterhorn Restaurant in Elkhart, Indiana, The Truth reported that "[c]onservative Miller discusse[d] public policy matters" and "addresse[d] issues of gay rights . . . and church regulations". Salivating over twin victories at the State House and the Indianapolis City-County Council over the issues of gay marriage and civil rights, Miller cautioned the group of followers that "[s]uccess in the latest round of legislation shouldn't be a signal for conservatives to ease up on issues they consider critical to the state's moral and economic well-being," Trevor Wendzonka reported in The Truth. In what Advance Indiana believes is the first time a mainstream reporter has pondered the brazen political activity of the supposed nonpartisan Advance America, Wendzonka astutely observed, "While Miller's Advance America is a tax-exempt, nonpartisan group, the 2004 Republican candidate for governor extolled the virtues of having a GOP majority in the General Assembly this year."

As Advance Indiana has reported in depth, Advance America has blatantly violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Internal Revenue Code regulations governing non-profit organizations by engaging in impermissible political activities. Advance America is organized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt "education"organization, meaning contributions to the organization are tax-deductible and income received in the form of contributions and grants by the organization is tax-exempt. As reported here, Advance America performs no exempt educational activities; rather, it devotes all of its energies to lobbying state and local governments on various legislative agenda items advanced by Christian fundamentalists, and to developing voter guides it mails in mass prior to elections to influence political campaigns. Advance Indiana has also reported in depth at how Miller, the group's founder, has engaged in blatant self-dealing in order to enrich himself based upon an analysis of the tax returns the organization filed with the IRS. Miller has in the past received six-figure salaries as the group's executive director and pulled down six-figure retainer fees for his law firm, all while he was mounting his personal campaign for governor. Making matters worse, Miller has commingled the operations of his law firm and the tax-exempt organization in prime office space only one block from the State House, which is rented by the organization under something less than an arm's length arrangement. In some years, Miller has personally pocketed nearly one-third of the organization's operating budget.

As further evidence of Advance Indiana's previous reporting on the purely political nature of Advance America, The Truth reported that Miller told the group that [p]lenty of work remains on issues such as a constitutional amendment defining marriage." The Truth reported that Miller warned the group, "Our opposition is raising millions of dollars and building a grassroots network" for next year's midterm elections. In a blatant political move, the story reported that Miller told the crowd that "'having the right leadership' is necessary for churches to continue to be exempt from government regulation and taxation, Christian schools shouldn't have internal operations reviewed . . .[c]hurch suppers shouldn't be watched by food inspectors . . . and [i]ssues dealing with benefits for homosexuals must be confronted."

Miller boasted to the group about the organization's successful effort in defeating Indianapolis' Proposal 68, which would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of one's sexual orientation or identity. According to the story, Miller said, "This ordinance would have made these people a protected class of individuals, and we don't believe that should happen." In an effort to deceive the gathered crowd about the impact of Proposal 68, Miller falsely asserted that Proposal 68 "would have been costly for businesses in terms of benefit coverage for employees' partners". Proposal 68 does not require employers to offer same sex benefits; it only applies to matters of hiring, firing and promotion with respect to employment. Indiana does not currently, nor has it ever legally recognized same sex marriage or civil unions. As such, businesses are not legally required to recognize the relationship between same sex couples, although several major businesses in Indiana and elsewhere voluntarily provide similar benefits to same sex couples as they offer to opposite sex couples.

Of course, Miller couldn't leave out the argument that gay civil rights and gay marriages are "damaging to the traditional family structure." Miller dissolved his first marriage many years ago and lived much of his adult life as a single man. Miller re-married before launching his unsuccessful campaign for Governor in 2004. Neither of Miller's marriages has produced any children. Miller did not explain to the group how gay civil rights and gay marriages had prevented him from having a "traditional family structure."

Just like former KKK Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson, who controlled Indiana government in the 1920s, Miller has his reliable disciples in the Indiana General Assembly who he can count on to advance his agenda of hate and bigotry. The Truth reported that seven loyal disciples were on hand to pay their respects to the Grand Wizard of Christian moral righteousness. The lawmakers attending the luncheon, all Republican, included Senators Marvin Riegsecker, Joe Zakas and Vic Heinhold, as well as Representatives Jackie Walorski, Bill Friend, Tim Neese and Marlin Stutzman. This is quite typical of Advance America events. The tone of the discussions is distinctly partisan, and only representatives of the conservative wing of the Republican Party are invited to participate. It also represents impermissible political activity by a non-profit organization.

The Truth's Trevor Wendzonka should be applauded for his insightful reporting on Eric Miller's political campaigning in Elkhart this week. I hope that Mr. Wendzonka and other mainstream reporters begin taking a harder look at some of the legal issues Advance Indiana has raised about the political activities of Miller and Advance America, and renew my urge for an investigation of the organization by the Internal Revenue Service. The evidence is clear that Advance America's tax-exempt status should be revoked, and its founder, Miller should be subject to the maximum penalties under the law for his blatant misuse of a tax-subsidized organization.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Clark Spews More Bigotry In Response To Governor's EEO Policy

Micah Clark, already under fire for uttering false and bigoted statements concerning Governor Mitch Daniels' EEO Policy of non-discrimination for gays, lesbians and transgendered persons, has served up another helping of hate-filled bigotry to his followers. As reported by Advance Indiana yesterday, Clark sent a newsletter to his followers appearing to backpedal on his earlier statements about Daniels' policy in response to a spirited defense from the Governor's office deeming his statements as utterly "misleading." Clark informed his followers that he would have no further comment on the Governor's policy until attorneys for his parent organization, American Family Associaton, had an opportunity to prepare a legal response to the policy, which he promised to share with his followers. Jeff Newman, founder of GayIndy.Org, reported today on that Clark had just sent a new message to his followers urging them to read an article prepared by Robert Knight for the Concerned Women for America ("CWA"), a very conservative D.C. based non-profit group. Knight is described by Clark as "well-respected policy expert" for CWA. "Although this was not one of the legal reviews I had in mind when I mentioned this issue on Friday, it does include quotes from CWA's chief legal counsel about Governor Daniels' EEO policy," Clark said in the message according to Newman.

Notwithstanding Clark's assertion that Knight is a "well respected policy expert", there is nothing respectable or expert than can be taken from Knight's article. The article, which is entitled "Indiana Governor’s Memo Paves Way for Quotas for Homosexuals, Transvestites", opens with the following statement: "Indiana may soon begin hiring men in dresses in order to satisfy the governor’s affirmative action plan. That’s a possibility because of an April 26, 2005, policy statement issued by Republican Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr." As has been previously explained to Clark, the policy statement in no way provides quotas for hiring gays, lesbians and transgendered persons as he has repeatedly falsely asserted; it merely prevents bigoted persons like him from discriminating against persons on that basis. The Knight article quotes a legal expert for CWA as incorrectly asserting that "[t]here are no federal or Indiana employment laws that give special protection based on ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity." The governor is making up law, not complying with it. Executive activism is as bad as judicial activism,” according to CWA's chief legal counsel, Jan LaRue.

The article goes on to spew various absurdities and bigoted statements. The article says, "The practical effect may be that state agency executives cannot take into account anything regarding sexuality, including whether men wear dresses, makeup, high heels or other feminine garb, or act in an outrageously unorthodox manner. The article continues, "As a protected status, 'sexual orientation' can justify conduct interpreted as being part of personal identity, or 'who I am'”. The article fears the policy will "set[] the tone and pave[] the way for the homosexual agenda, including demands for marital-type benefits for same-sex partners, “gay pride” celebrations, and school programs that affirm homosexuality. It warns that "[i]t also constitutes a government endorsement of bisexuality, which means having partners of either sex, behavior that is inconsistent with supporting the institution of marriage." The article repeats Clark's often false refrain that "state agency managers will have no choice but to create informal quotas in order to prove that they are not discriminating." Lastly, the article suggests that when "government offers incentives [such as Daniels EEO policy] for people to remain trapped in homosexual behavior, it becomes that much harder for them to give it up"

Firstly, Governor Daniels simply renewed a policy which had already been in effect under his two predecessors, O'Bannon and Kernan. The "Sky is Falling" response to Governor Daniels' EEO policy simply doesn't hold water; the policy has been in effect for many years without any of the claims asserted by Clark and Knight coming true. Secondly, contrary to LaRue's assertion that no federal law protects people on the basis of sexual idenity or orientation, federal courts have found in many cases that harassment and discrimination directed at a person because that person does not conform to traditional sex stereotypes is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 based upon the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. In addition, at least 16 states and hundreds of local communities have enacted civil rights protection based on sexual orientation and identiy, including Bloomington, Ft. Wayne and Lafayette among others.

The false and hate-filled bigoted statements being spewed by Clark and his so called "Christian" co-horts in defense of their support of legalized discrimination against persons based upon their sexual orientation and identity must be exposed for what they are. It is extremely frustrating that the main-stream media continue to ignore the dishonesty and extreme, bigoted nature of the attacks employed by Christian fundamentalists like Clark and Advance America's Eric Miller on the GLBT community. Governor Daniels has every right to be upset with the assault Clark, Miller and others are making on his EEO policy. Advance Indiana will continue to expose these hypocritical bigots at every turn even as the mainstream media remains silent.

For those of you interested in the Governor's automated e-mail response to Clark's e-mail alert, here it is:

"Thank you for your recent e-mail communication to Governor Daniels. The Governor read your message personally and asked that I respond. I am afraid that you have been misinformed (emphasis added) about the non-discrimination policy in place for state employees. While Governor Daniels does not believe in discrimination of any kind, the state employment policy he continued does not extend special rights to people based on their sexual orientation. It merely states that it "shall not be a consideration in decisions concerning hiring, development, advancement and termination of civilian employees."The information you received regarding establishing "quotas" for state employment practices is false (emphasis added). As you may know, "quotas" are illegal. Additionally, please know there has been no direction to establish state government agency hiring goals based on sexual orientation. Again, this is a false statement (emphasis added). I hope this clears up any confusion caused by the distortions of fact (emphasis added) that someone [Micah Clark] must have conveyed to you earlier."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Star Breaks Silence on Governor's EEO Policy: Reporter Stumbles

More than a month after GayIndy.Org and local blogsites, including Advance Indiana, first reported that Governor Mitch Daniels had approved an EEO Policy Statement for state employees which barred discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgendered persons, the Indianapolis Star broke its silence and reported on the negative reaction to the policy from Christian fundamentalists, including Advance America's Eric Miller and American Family Association of Indiana's Micah Clark. The story, written by veteran State House reporter Mary Beth Schneider, appeared on page 1 of the Metro & State section of the paper and discussed the rift in the Republican Party between moderates and Christian fundamentalists over gay civil rights issues. In a bizarre twist Schneider reported on the formation of a previously undisclosed group by Indianapolis attorney Syd Steele called First Republicans, which purports to favor gay civil rights and to oppose the ban on gay marriages. Schneider did not report the fact that Steele is employed by House Speaker Brian Bosma's law firm, Kroger Gardis & Regas , where Bosma is a partner and Steele is a senior counsel answering to the firm's partners, including Bosma. Bosma, who was the subject of a large protest by gay rights activists at a fundraiser he held at the Rathskellar in Indianapolis last week led by the Indiana Action Network, has been one of the most vocal members of the General Assembly in support of a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages and civil unions.

Steele is a well-known and respected construction attorney who joined Bosma's firm after the firm he founded dissolved a couple of years ago. He has heretofore not be known for any political activism, let alone a supporter of gay rights. According to the Star report "Steele said the group was formed to give a voice to Republicans who believe the party of Abraham Lincoln (echoing my words) and not be defined by such things as the amendment banning same-sex marriage. " Steele said, "It's amazing the number of people who say that it's about time." The story quotes Steele as saying that "the true base of the party are the centrists." Steele believes "that by backing policies such as Daniels' and the one considered by the City-County council, the party would gain members" according to the story. Steele hopes that Governor Daniels and other Republican Party leaders will be more outspoken in support of gay rights the story reports.

The concept of First Republicans is a very good one; it is afterall exactly what I have been touting on Advance Indiana for the past two months. But as a former Marion County GOP precinct committeeman and past state GOP Platform Committee member, I receive unsolicited offerings from federal, state and local Republicans almost daily and discuss politics with activists on a regular basis. Nowhere have I heard or read about any discussion of First Indiana. Pardon me for being a skeptic, but I simply do not understand why Steele doesn't simply walk down the hall and ask one of his bosses, House Speaker Brian Bosma, to give his campaign of bigotry against gays and lesbians a rest. As Speaker of the House, a single act by Bosma alone could kill future efforts to amend Indiana's constitution to ban same sex marriages and civil unions. I further find it completely unacceptable that a veteran news reporter like Schneider would not make a connection between Bosma and Steele and ask what was really going on. Her readers deserve better from her.

To make matters worse Schneider's report, while acknowledging the vocal protests of Eric Miller and Micah Clark to Governor Daniels EEO Policy Statement, completely ignored the extent of the bigotry reflected in those protests as has been reported on Advance Indiana and other local blogsites for the past several weeks. As reported here, Clark said Daniel's policy "gives special rights to homosexuals and cross-dressers." Clark falsely and hatefully asserted that "policies like this could eventually force churches to hire homosexuals and cross-dressers and damage our free speech rights by outlawing people to speak out against sins like homosexuality." Clark and Miller began urging their supporters to e-mail the Governor's office in protest, just as they did in their successful effort to defeat Proposal 68 before the Indianapolis City-County Council last April. She also missed the Governor's office's reaction to the false attacks by Clark who now appears to be somewhat in retreat. As GayIndy.Org founder Jeff Newman reported on local blogsite,, "while it appears they were going on the attack big time after Daniels' statement was issued, Micah Clark and the AFA seem to be doing some serious backpedaling." Newman posted a newsletter item Clark sent to his supporters in which Clark said the following:

"I have no regrets about sounding the alarm. However, looking back, I do think that my tone and my use of the keyboard were, at times, too cutting and harsh. Upon review, I have decided to not directly answer the Governor's reply, which so many of you have asked me about. Instead, I have asked for outside legal verification to see if what I, or AFA's national office,
sent was "misleading" as the Governor's office has charged. I have not yet seen the reviews I requested. I simply sent the Governor's policy, without my comments, to these national offices and asked for their review. I will post those reviews in their entirety next week. I have also been told that the AFA Center for Legal Policy will be sending its own response to its large Indiana e-mail list. Next week, I will simply pass on what a couple of nationally recognized pro-family legal authorities say regarding the Governor's policy. That way, you can judge what they say about the policy in a reasoned manner, without editorial comment. It is my hope that we will be able to work with the Governor and his staff about issues of concern to Hoosier families in the years and months ahead."

Clark himself makes clear the degree to which he was under attack by the Governor's office for his comments. The Star's readers had a right to know the words Clark and his ilk are uttering in their campaign of bigotry against gays and lesbians, not some sugar-coated reporting. What we heard was that Clark thought Daniels was "a disappointment in the family values department." Similarly, Schneider completely ignored the outragously bigoted statements made by City-County Councilor Virginia Cain as reported on Advance Indiana last week and area blog sites for weeks now. If the public at large were allowed to read what Clark, Miller and Cain are really saying about gays and lesbians, their public support would erode precipitously.

Also disappointing was the Star's continued reliance on just two local members of the GLBT community, one of whom has an on-going business relationship with the Star not disclosed in the article. Every single story written on issues pertaining to the GLBT community over the past year has focused almost exclusively on just two individuals. Many members of the GLBT community have expressed frustration with this. It is the same reaction many African-Americans have when every story about black civil rights focuses on the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I attribute this to lazy journalism. In any cause there are work horses and there are show horses. The GLBT community knows who the work horses are.

A particularly heartening part of Schneider's story was the comments she attributed to Daniels' campaign manager and close advisor, Bill Oesterle. Oesterle heads a successful web-based business, Angie's List, which is well-recognized as a gay-friendly business. Schneider reported that Oesterle gave an "emotional speech before party leaders" in which he "called for inclusiveness and praised Republican City-County Councilor Scott Keller for co-authoring the anti-discrimination ordinance." Knowing that someone with Oesterle's views is close to the Governor's ear has to be comforting to the GLBT community.

Advance Indiana is pleased that the Star is beginning to take notice of the fight for gay civil rights. As Advance Indiana reported yesterday, the Star is under assault by Christian fundamentalists as being anti-Christian towards Christian employees. There's a new set of faces in the management at the Star that is moving the paper back into the mainstream of public thought. This is not the first time I have been particularly disappointed in the reporting of Schneider. I have personally written her in the past about my concerns, all of which went without response. While I applaud her for reporting on this issue, I believe it is my right and duty to challenge her to do better.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Price of Religious Freedom

He is a very conservative gadfly Republican attorney from Indianapolis who supports the Christian fundamentalist agenda. He is politically ambitious, and he is just as menacing as Eric Miller when it comes to fueling the flames of bigotry towards gays and lesbians. He has twice run for statewide office and both times he lost, losing the Republican nominations for U.S. Senate and Governor in 1998 and 2000, respectively. Having hung up his political jock strap for the time being, he has turned his attention towards the state's courtrooms, bringing a flurry of litigation on behalf of Christians who claim their religious freedom has been impeded by the government. He sued Indiana University-Purdue University in Ft. Wayne to block its theater department from showing its production of Corpus Christi, which depicts the life of Jesus as a gay man. Price claimed the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the production of a play he viewed as "anti-Christian" violated he and other fundamentalist Christian's constitutional right of religious freedom. The suit was summarily dismissed by the court and the play went on. His latest target is The Indianapolis Star against whom he has brought a federal religious discrimination suit on behalf of two disgruntled former editorial writers. The suit is the first shot across the bow by Christian fundamentalists in an effort to shift the paper's editorial opinion to more of their liking.

The origin of Christian fundamentalists beef with The Indianapolis Star's editorial staff can be traced back five years ago when the paper's publisher, Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc., agreed to sell the newspaper to media giant, Gannett Company, Inc, which owns 101 newspapers and 21 television stations across the United States. Prior to its sale, the newspaper had been under the control of the Eugene C. Pulliam family since the 1940s. Pulliam, now dead, was a staunch conservative Republican who was the grandfather of former Indiana Senator and Vice President, Dan Quayle. Pulliam was "a publisher who used the Star ruthlessly to propogate his views" and "he became a feared and hated man throughout the state" according to Indiana historian Justin Walsh. Walsh said of Pulliam, "Politicians in both parties who stood to the left of center-as judged by Pulliam-faced daily excorciation in his news and editorial columns." Editorial control of the newspaper was passed on to Pulliam's son Eugene S. in 1975 until 1999. Pulliam' s grandson, Russell has stayed on as a member of the editorial staff, along with his sister, Myrta, since its purchase by Gannett. The Pulliams could always be counted on to take a hard-line on its editorial pages towards homosexuals. Former Senator Birch Bayh was attacked for his bleeding heart liberal support of gay rights in the 1970s, just one of the issues the paper used to support Pulliam's grandson, Dan Quayle, in his successful campaign to unseat Bayh in 1980.

After Gannett purchased the newsaper in 2000 it brought in two veterans from a sister newspaper, The Des Moines Register. The paper named Barbara Henry as publisher and Dennis Ryerson as executive editor. Neither Henry nor Ryerson held the doctrinaire conservative ideology of their predecessors under the tutelage of the Pulliam family. According to Price's lawsuit on behalf of former editorialists James Patterson and Lisa Coffey, "Ms. Henry and Mr. Ryerson consistently and repeatedly demonstrated in the workplace a negative hostility towards Christianity and then existing Christian employees of the Star." In support of their claim, Price complains in his lawsuit against the Star that "Ms. Henry and Mr. Ryerson displayed strong disagreement with anyone who had a Biblical view of homosexuality." Through their actions, the paper "implemented a policy and practice of encouraging, favoring and printing news coverage and editorials with a positive slant on homosexuality and of disfavoring editorials with a positive slant on Christianity." During last April's debate before the Indianapolis City-County Council on Proposal 68, which would have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and identity, the Star's editors editorialized in support of the proposed ordinance, a view which would have never been taken by the Star's former editors.

As an example of this practice of favoring homosexuals over Christians, Price cites a dispute Coffey had with her editors over research she had recently done on "the topic of sodomy and specifically the public health and economic consequences of anal intercourse." Coffey, a self-described fundamentalist Christian as is Patterson, apparently worked herself up in a lather over the decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Lawrence v. Texas case, a case in which the Court struck down a Texas anti-sodomy law making sex between consenting persons of the same sex illegal. The Court, which described anti-sodomy laws as being "rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards," found that they unconstitutionally violated an individuals due process rights. In so doing, the Court said "that liberty gives substantial protection to adult person in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex." According to Price's lawsuit, Coffey "was surprised to learn that there were many significant health risks associated with anal intercouse, with potentially enormous public health and economic ramifications" after the Lawrence case was decided. Coffey "feared that [Henry and Ryerson] would reject [her sodomy] series as anti-homosexual, as anal intercouse is commonly associated with homosexual and bi-sexual men" according to Price's lawsuit. Indeed when Ms. Coffey submitted her first test column to Ryerson highlighting the fact that "men who have sex with men" are indeed a high-risk group when it comes to HIV transmission", Mr Ryerson "became enraged and refused to print it" the lawsuit claims. Mr. Ryerson repeatedly told both Coffey and Patterson that they would not be allowed to use the editorial pages to "proselytize" their "Christian religious belief", which Coffey and Patterson claim "demonstrated a deep animosity toward Christianity in general and toward [their] . . . . Christian religious beliefs."

In the case of Coffey and Patterson, their fundamentalist Christian views on homosexuality project a decidedly bigoted attitude they have towards gays and lesbians. They, like other fundamentalist Christians, want to be able to use their bigoted views to promote legal discrimination against the innate sexuality of Americans with whom they differ, all the while hiding behind the mantra of their constitutional right of religious freedom. As the Supreme Court in Lawrence observed, anti-sodomy laws had their origins in fundamental religious beliefs. The same can be said of state laws which banned interracial marriages, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1964 as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause contained in our federal Bill of Rights. Our country fought a civil war to bring an end to slavery, which its proponents said was permitted by a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. Women too were treated as second-class citizens in this country until this past century due in large part to long-held fundamentalist relgious beliefs.

Coffey and Patterson presented their charges to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") before filing their lawsuit in the Indianapolis federal district court; the EEOC summarily dismissed the charges the two made against the Star. This lawsuit was not filed on the basis of its likelihood of being decided favorably on its merits for the plaintiffs; it is instead part of the Christian fundamentalists agenda to move the editorial content of the Star back in its favor. On a darker side, Price and his plaintiffs appear to be using the lawsuit to pressure the Star's management into an out-of-court settlement to avoid potentially embarrassing disclosures of the sexual orientation of certain high-ranking members of the Star's management; it's not hard to read between the lines of Price's lawsuit.

As a matter of principle, the Star must stand tall and vigorously fight what is by all appearances a frivolous lawsuit. More importantly, it cannot allow the likes of John Price and Eric Miller to influence its editorial content. The Star is right to fight bigotry in any form, including the bigotry against gays and lesbians. It must continue its fight against all forms of bigotry and expose the hypocrisy of those who advance it. We cannot allow anyone to hide behind their religious beliefs as an excuse for allowing bigotry. Otherwise, we will all pay "The Price of Religious Freedom."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Who's Afraid of Virginia Cain?

She is a Republican Indianapolis city-county councilor, representing the far northeastern part of the city, which includes the upscale neighborhoods surrounding Geist Reservoir where some of the city's most affluent and influential residents live. Her name is Virginia Cain, and her views towards gays and lesbians could not be more bigoted and hate-filled. When a gay Indianapolis resident e-mailed Councilor Cain to urge her to support Proposal 68, which would have outlawed discrimination against Indianapolis residents on the basis of their sexual orientation or identity, he could not have imagined receiving any response let alone the one he got from her. What he received was one of the most hate-filled and bigoted e-mails I've ever seen coming from anyone, let alone an elected public official like Cain.

In a reply e-mail to Seth Kreigh dated April 22, 2005, Cain said, "I will never support something that is meant for destruction of human beings and our civilization." Cain's e-mail described homosexuality as "an addiction to unhealthy sexual behavior", which "can be overcome with proper treatment." Kreigh, who has been active in launching the Indiana Action Network, received a lecture from Cain on how "unhealthy" homosexuality is, how homosexuals have a shorter life span and are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS and how they experience "serious bouts of depression" leading to suicide. According to Cain, "[t]he Bible is clear that sex was created and intended within the confines of heterosexual marriage." Cain continued, "Who would want to pervert that? Satan...the author of sin."

Where does someone like Virginia Cain learn these bigoted views? According to her biography on the City's website Cain is a former staffer for United States Senators Richard Lugar and Dan Coats in constituent services overseeing the areas of housing, veterans and post office issues. She then went on to be Assistant State Director for Senator Coats where her duties included travelling the middle 33 counties of Indiana on his behalf as well as being a member of the projects staff. Cain, who is a law school graduate and a full-time mom, says she is active in her church, East 91st Street Christian Church.

Did Cain learn these views while working for Senators Lugar and Coats? I hope not. While Cain relies on the Bible to support her bigoted views towards gays and lesbians, her own church, the Christian Church, has an entirely different view than she takes in her e-mail. In 1997 the Christian Church, also known as the Disciples of Christ, adopted a policy statement which urged support for "legislation on local, state and national levels which will end the denial of civil rights and the violation of civil liberties for reasons of sexual orientation." The resolution specifically recognized that "the church, among other elements of society, has contributed to the persecution and suffering of homosexuals, and it is its culpability in this regard which provides one reason for seeking a more enlightened understanding." I think it unlikely Virginia Cain acquired these bigoted views from the church she attends. I am curious, however, whether she aspoused these beliefs prior to her election to the city-county council, particularly during the time she spent working on the staffs of Senators Lugar and Coats, respectively. If her views were known, then it worries me that the Marion County Republican Party is bringing a new generation of leaders into the party like Cain who hold such intolerant and non-inclusive views.

It is my hope that her views are not shared by the leadership of the Marion County Republican Party. State Representative Mike Murphy currently serves as the chairman of the Marion County Republican Party. When he is not workng as a state representative, he works as a business executive for WellPoint, a health care giant based in Indianapolis. WellPoint has been lauded for favorable employment practices towards gays and lesbians. The company's employment policy specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and it offers benefits to same sex couples. If Murphy were to make the kind of statements Cain made towards a gay or lesbian employee at WellPoint, he would be subject to serious disciplinary action, including termination, under the company's policies. As a legislator, Representative Murphy voted for SJR 7, which would amend the Indiana Constitution to prohibit same sex marriages and civil unions. He has also shown no interest to date in supporting state legislative efforts to amend the State's Civil Rights Act to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. Notwithstanding those positions, as the leader of the Marion County Republican Party, I would hope that Rep. Murphy will denounce Cain's bigoted statements and make it clear that they are not reflected by a majority of Republicans. If he and other Republican leaders in Marion County remain silent, I can only conclude that they subscribe to her statements. And that would be an even greater outrage than Cain herself.

The full text of Cain's e-mail can be found below:

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 4:51 PM
To: Kreigh, Seth
Subject: Re: Proposal #68

It is never helpful to condone and justify someone's unhealthy chosen addiction.Homosexuality is an addiction to unhealthy sexual behavior.It can be overcome with proper treatment. Check out Exodus International for confirmation of this.Homosexuality is very unhealthy.Homosexuals have a shorter life span, are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS, experience serious bouts of depression and even suicide.The Bible is clear that sex was created and intended within the confines of heterosexual marriage.It is meant to mirror our relationship to our Creator.Who would want to pervert that? Satan...the author of sin.Jesus came to overcome sin's power over us so that we can live and live abundantly! He came to rescue us...not condemn us. Thus, we need to help those who are entrapped in any kind of unhealthy lifestyle.I will never support something that is meant for destruction of human beings and our civilization.


Ginny Cain
CCC - Dist. 5

Monday, June 13, 2005

Civil Rights Activists Turn Up The Heat On Bosma

A gaggle of lobbyists who attended House Speaker Brian Bosma's fundraiser at the Rathskellar Biergarten along Massachusetts Avenue were greeted by nearly a hundred protesting civil rights activists organized by the Indiana Action Network ("IAN"). Protestors carried signs and shouted "Shame", "Stop the Bigotry" and "Bosma's Gotta Go". Many passersby during the rush hour traffic on Michigan Avenue and New Jersey Street joined in the protest by honking their horns in support. IAN organized the protest in response to what it perceives as a "gross act of hypocrisy and injustice to our families" for Bosma to conduct his fundraiser in the heart of the area of the City revitalized, in large part, by the gay and lesbian community of Indianapolis.

Civil rights activists have been alarmed by the fervor with which House Speaker Bosma has pursued Eric Miller's and Advance America's bigoted agenda against gays and lesbians. In particular, IAN cites Bosma's dogged pursuit of SJR 7, an amendment to the Indiana Constitution which bans same sex marriages and civil unions. Bosma has in the past described the proposed amendment as "the most critical piece of the people’s business." A press release from IAN complained that "Bosma is apparently willing to promote gay-friendly Mass Ave as a flourishing tourist and business district while simultaneously advocating the curtailing of human rights for Mass Ave's inhabitants and their families."

The protest remained peaceful for the most part. Violence nearly erupted when an arriving guest attempted to snatch a camera out of the hands of one of the protestors. A scuffle ensued, but the protest organizers quickly extinguished what could have become a violent confrontation. Several of the arriving guests hurled insults at protestors, including an old favorite, "kiss my ass." Others guests looked for another entrance to avoid the protestors altogether, including Bosma. The east entrance to the Biergarten, which is typically open to the public, was barred shut by a 15-foot high wooden gate, walling off Bosma's guests from the protestors. Organizers ushered protestors to the east side wall of the Biergarten, who began shouting towards the corralled guests. An Indianapolis Police officer was dispatched to the scene but left a short time later when he saw that the protest was peaceful. Democrat State Representative David Orentlicher, a strong supporter of gay civil rights who represents a northside Indianapolis district, greeted the protestors and thanked them for their efforts.

IAN and those who gathered to support the protest should be applauded for their efforts. As the Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, Bosma is a leader of all the people, not just fundamentalist Christians. He has to understand and appreciate the consequences his pursuit of a fundamentalist Christian agenda has on people who don't prescribe to this agenda, in particular when it leads to the denial of fundamental rights guaranteed by our federal and state constiutions, such as the "separation of church and state" and "equal treatment under the law." I did not agree with the protestors who criticized the Rathskellar for permitting its facilities to be used for Bosma's campaign. The Raskellar management has been extremely friendly to Indianapolis' gay community. It has hosted many gay friendly events over the years, including a gay friendly concert this past Saturday evening at the conclusion of Indy Pride Fest. The Raskerllar should be open to the entire Indianapolis community, not just those with whom we agree politically. It is unfair to criticize a business which has played such an important role in the revitalization of Massachusetts Avenue for all Indianapolis residents to enjoy.

The mainstream media largely ignored the large protest so well-organized by IAN. Only WISH-TV showed up to cover the event among the area television stations. WIBC News ignored the event as it did Indy Pride Fest. A reporter for Intake magazine was on the scene interviewing protestors. Bosma, who never appeared in view of the protestors, appeared for an interview with WISH-TV outside the Raskerllar at the conclusion of his fundraiser. Bosma complained that the protestors were "too aggressive," and that they were attempting to "segregate Massachusetts Avenue" from the rest of the community. He said that he and his friends often frequent businesses along Massachusetts Avenue. Judging from Bosma's reaction I think he really missed the point of the protest. For the sake of us all, I do hope that Speaker Bosma will grow to appreciate that by pursuing a political agenda using "wedge" issues like gay marriage bans for political gain, he is the one segregating us as a society. If he is truly interested in a fully integrated society, then he should look for ways of uniting us rather than dividing us.

Carson Gives 'Em Hell Before Record Pride Crowd

U.S. Representative Julia Carson’s support for gay rights is unwavering and unconditional. Carson, who spoke at this year’s Indy Pride fest in Indianapolis’ University Park on June 11, reminded the attendees that she had attended every single Pride celebration since she’s represented the Indianapolis community in Congress. She blamed her closer-than-expected race in the last election on the assault her campaign faced from Christian fundamentalists over her support for gay marriage and gay civil rights. Undaunted by the criticism she has faced from the likes of Eric Miller and Micah Clark, she remains steadfast in her belief that she is on the right side of these issues.

Although visibly weak from her recent health problems, Carson stood before a crowd, estimated by park police to be more than 23,000, and delivered her remarks with a conviction and sincerity too seldom seen from our politicians today. Carson told the record-breaking crowd that she didn’t know what Jefferson meant when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal.” She also said she didn’t know for sure what Lincoln had in mind when he delivered his address at Gettsyburg and said, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” But she had no doubts what those words meant to her. And that meant everyone was equal “regardless of the color of their skin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.” She reminded attendees that New York’s firemen didn’t care that Father Mychal Judge, a Chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was gay. Instead, she observed that after he was struck and killed by falling debris while administering last rites to another fallen fireman, five firemen carried his body to a nearby church, placed him on the altar and covered his body to show their respect. She reminded her audience that thousands of gay and lesbian soldiers were currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside other soldiers.

It wouldn’t have been a Carson speech without a little sardonic humor. Carson talked about the late J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time FBI Director who made a career out of badgering people for being homosexual while living a closeted gay life himself. Carson said he was so “big, fat and ugly” that noone wanted him out of the closet. She also poked fun at Spokane Mayor Jim West, who championed an anti-gay agenda with fervor during his tenure as one of the most powerful Republicans in the Washington state legislature, and who was recently outed by a Spokane newspaper. It is so often as she put it that those who yell and scream the loudest about gays and lesbians are practicing hypocrites.

Carson was not the lone politician attending the event. Council members Jackie Nytes, Joanne Sanders, Greg Bowes and Scott Keller all addressed the crowd. State Representative Ed Mahern also addressed the group as he has for several years. Nytes, Sanders, Bowes, Keller and Mahern all marched in the parade as a group to show their support to Indiana’s gay community. Disappointingly, Mayor Bart Peterson once again shunned the event. While Peterson’s has been very supportive of gay rights as Indianapolis Mayor, he has never once publicly attended a Pride celebration. He can be seen attending virtually every other festival which takes place during the summer in Indianapolis, whether it be Irish Fest, Italian Fest, Black Expo or Jazz Fest, but he can never seem to find time on his calendar for a Pride event. By contrast, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley can be found every year marching near the front of Chicago’s Pride parade. Mayor Peterson needs to lose his fear of being filmed or photographed at a gay-sponsored event. The gay members of Mayor Peterson's staff, and there are quite a few of them, should convince their boss it's time to step out of the shadows.

Indianapolis’ media as usual mostly ignored the event or under-reported it. The Indianapolis Star did run a pre-canned thoughtful news story about the problem of acceptance encountered by gays and lesbians in Indiana, but it only reported on the Pride celebration incidentally within the story. Ironically, a reporter only had to stick his/her head out the front door of the Star’s offices on Pennsylvania Avenue to cover the event. WXIN’s Fox 59 News inaccurately reported that only a “few hundred” people attended the event. The other television stations didn’t even bother to cover the event. All news radio station WIBC completely ignored the event as well. A much smaller event in celebration of native American life received far more coverage than the Pride celebration in the local media. It is curious to observe that every major media outlet in Indianapolis has at least one gay news anchor and/or reporter, some with several, and yet they still somehow manage to ignore the Pride event. Could it be that these anchors and reporters are fearful of having their true status openly revealed? Didn’t one local television station fire its new anchor a few years ago because he was gay? Just asking.

The organizers of this year’s event should be very proud of their great accomplishment in growing this event. While this event was once attended by fewer than one hundred not many years ago, it has grown into one of the largest and biggest festivals on Indianapolis’ summer events calendar today. That’s good for tourism, that’s good for expanding Indianapolis’ cultural acceptance and inclusion, and that’s good for the future economic development of the City. Congratulations to Indy Pride Inc. for a job well done, particularly the group's president, Gary Brackett.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Keller Picks Up New Support for Proposal 68

Scott Keller, an Indianapolis Republican City-Council councilor and co-sponsor of Proposal 68, announced yesterday to a crowd in attendance at the Indy Pride festival that he has found another Republican councilor to join him in supporting the measure which will bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. Keller, who was the lone Republican councilor who voted for Proposal 68 on April 26, 2005, when it was voted down by the city-county council on a 18-11 vote, announced that Lance Langsford, a Republican council member representing a far eastside district in Warren Township, will join him in voting for Proposal 68. With Langsford's vote supporters now have 12 votes in favor of Proposal 68, just 3 votes shy of the 15 votes needed for its passage. As first reported here last week, Keller promised that he would secure more Republican votes for the proposal, and he predicted the proposal would be adopted before year's end.

Democrat councilor Jackie Nytes, also a co-sponsor of the measure, expects to have more Democratic votes when the proposal comes up for another vote before the city-county council this fall. She was disappointed when five of her fellow Democratic councilors, including city-county council president, Steve Talley, joined 13 Republicans to defeat the measure. In addition to Talley, Democrats Patrice Abdullah, Sherron Franklin, Ron Gibson and Mary Moriarity Adams all voted against the measure. Talley, Abdullah, Franklin and Gibson are all African-Americans.

Supporters are particularly disappointed with Abdullah's and Gibson's votes. Abdullah, who represents downtown neighborhoods, such as Lockerbie, Mass Avenue, the Old Northside, Chatham Arch and Fall Creek, has more gay and lesbian constituents than any other council member district. Abdullah attributed his religious beliefs as the basis for his vote; he is a Muslim. As a result of his vote, he will almost certainly face a primary opponent from his disappointed constituents. Gibson, an at-large councilor who has hopes of succeeding Rep. Julia Carson upon her retirement, may have seriously damaged his future political success within the Democrat Party in Marion County by alienating a key constituency. Rep. Carson and Democrat activists, including Indiana's Stonewall Democrats, are likely to work against any effort by him to win Carson's congressional seat in the future. Abdullah and Gibson are likely to face heavy pressure to switch their votes. City County-Council President Steve Talley's no vote was not a big surprise because of his history of being unpredictable, though it was a major disappointment to the proposal's Democrat supporters. Talley was installed as council president in January when he and a few of his Democrat colleagues conspired with the entire bloc of Republican councilors to over-throw Rozelle Boyd from that post.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Croddy's Cruddy Campaign Against Carson

Bob Croddy, a 32-year old financial consultant who lives in Warren Township, is the latest in a line of successive Republican candidates to attempt to unseat seventh district congresswoman Julia Carson. Judging from the way he has chosen to start his campaign, his chances of success are just about as bad as all those who have gone before him. Croddy has decided nearly a year before the primary election to use wedge issues like gay marriage and gay bigotry as his path to victory. In so doing he shows us just how little he is prepared to represent an urban district like the seventh district.

Ironically, Croddy's own website makes a point of emphasizing the diversity of the seventh district. The homepage of the Croddy for Congress website includes a letter from the candidate in which he states, "Few communities in America are more diverse than the Seventh District of Indiana. And yet there probably isn't any district which is less well-served by its Member of Congress." In a press release from Croddy's campaign dated June 8 the headline reads "Extreme Liberal Democrat Leaders Like Julia Carson Are Wrong to Push Same Sex Marriage." The press release goes on to attack Carson for criticizing Democratic city-county council members who voted against a proposed civil rights ordinance which would have protected Indianapolis residents from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or identity. The statement said, "Julia Carson's recent scolding of local Democrat leaders who chose not to support the city-county council proposal to classify lifestyle as a special interest group shows just how out of touch she is with those of us in Marion County." The release continued, "She chooses extreme liberal special interest groups in Washington and San Francisco over her constituents here in Indianapolis time and time again." Croddy states that he "believes most Democrats in Marion County want to protect our families", and that "thousands of year of tradition should not be discarded so easily."

Does Mr. Croddy, himself the product of a single parent family according to his website, believe that gay marriages pose a threat to his family? I would also remind Croddy that Christian tradition also once barred interracial marriages, treated women as second class citizens and approved of slavery. Does Croddy believe it was wrong to discard those traditions?

Croddy is sadly mistaken if he thinks the far right's bigoted agenda against gays and lesbians is going to propel him into a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the City of Indianapolis. If that is the campaign platform on which he wants to run his campaign, then he should consider running for Congress in Tupelo, Mississippi where he might have a more receptive audience to this form of bigotry. The last Republican elected to represent the City of Indianapolis in Congress was former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut, a centrist who reached out to all voters. I too find a lot of fault in the way Rep. Carson has represented the seventh district; however, she at least has the common decency not to inject bigotry in any form towards her constitutents. In that respect Mr. Croddy, she is much more in touch with Marion County than you are.

A tagline to Croddy's release implores Republicans not to "give up on Marion County." When Republicans run candidates like Croddy for office in Marion County, they have given up on us. Marion County Republicans can and should find a candidate who is worthy of representing the seventh district. Mr. Croddy is not that candidate.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Texas Governor's Actions Alarming

Governor Rick Perry of Texas is sounding more and more like the young Alabama Governor George Wallace who defiantly declared "segregation today, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever" in response to federal efforts to force racially segregated schools in Alabama to integrate. Governor Perry, who succeeded to the office upon then-Governor's Bush's election as President and who was easily elected by Texas voters in 2002, has become one of the biggest cheerleaders for the fundamentalist Christian agenda. In so doing he has aimed his sights directly at gays and lesbians in a way that can only be described as alarming.

The Texas Legislature, like the Indiana General Assembly, approved a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution which would ban same sex marriages and civil unions. Unlike Indiana, the measure now goes directly to the Texas voters for consideration; in Indiana an amendment must be approved by two successive sessions of the legislature before it can be considered by the voters. The proposed amendment does not require the Governor's signature, but that didn't stop Governor Perry from scheduling a "resolution signing" event. Governor Perry held his special little "resolution signing" at a private Christian school. According to an article in the Washington Blade written by Chris Crain, one speaker at the ceremony, Rev. Rod Parsley of Columbus, Ohio, praised the gay marriage ban by "painting a grim picture of gay men and lesbians," citing an Associated Press report. "We are not to sacrifice our children on the altar of sexual lust of a few," Parsley said. As Crain put it, "Texas Governor Rick Perry provided picture-perfect proof . . . . that efforts to block gays from marrying are motivated by nothing more than the religious beliefs of conservative Christians."

Crain correctly opines that "[r]eligious faith groups, including Christian denominations, differ on the issue of gay marriage, and civil marriage equality would not require any church or synagogue to marry a gay couple. By voting to give legal effect to the religious beliefs of the majority, the Texas Legislature violated the First Amendment's establishment clause and the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection to gay Americans."

Even more disturbing than the bill signing ceremony at an evangelical school was Governor Perry's later comments to a reporter that he would tell gay veterans returning home from Iraq that they should look for another state to live. "I'm going to say Texas has made a decision on marriage and if there's a state with more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's where they should live," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Perry said last Sunday. "More than 66,000 lesbian and gay veterans make their home in Texas," Sharra E. Greer, SLDN’s director of law and policy was quoted as saying in a recent Washington Blade story. The story quoted Greer as further stating, "Their service has defended the freedom of every Texan, including Governor Perry. . . The governor’s remarks dishonor their service and he should immediately apologize. We should be thanking these brave men and women, not asking them to leave."

The anti-gay sentiment doesn't end there. The Texas Legislature also passed legislation to the delight of Governor Perry that bars gay and lesbian couples from being foster parents. Oddly, the new law still allows single gays and lesbians to be foster parents. Try to understand the logic behind that law.

Texas is the second largest state in the nation and three of our last eight presidents have hailed from the Lone Star state. That the Governor of any state in our country, let alone a large state like Texas, could act in such a bigoted manner towards so many of a state's citizens in the 21st Century tells us just how far we have left to go to achieve true equality for everyone in our country. I think President Bush should take a little bit of a time out from his campaign to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and have a talk with his good buddy and hand-picked successor in Texas about basic human rights. At least have the decency to demand that he treat all veterans returning from Iraq with the well-earned respect they deserve.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Keller Confident Indy Gay Rights Ordinance Will Become Law

Indianapolis City Councilman Scott Keller, a Republican and co-sponsor of Proposal 68 along with Democratic at-large council member Jackie Nytes, remains confident a new civil rights law will be enacted protecting Indianapolis residents from discrimination based upon sexual orientation or identity sometime in the near future. Keller was the lone Republican on the council voting with ten Democrats in support of Proposal 68, which failed when five Democrats joined thirteen Republicans in defeating the measure by an 18-11 vote at an April 26 meeting of the city-county council. Advance America's Eric Miller was quick to take credit for defeating the measure. The organization inundated council members with a last-minute e-mail campaign in opposition to Proposal 68. Keller himself received no fewer than 700 e-mails. The e-mail included false and misleading information about the measure's true effect, including a false claim that it would force churches to hire homosexuals.

Keller believes Proposal 68 is needed because equal opportunities for employment and housing are "basic to what America is all about." He believes that, while "a person's bad credit or past work performance are a legitimate basis" to evaluate a person, a person's race, color, religion, sexual orientation or sexual identity "should never be a legitimate basis" to deny a person employment or housing. Keller also believes the passage of Proposal 68 is critical to future economic development efforts for the City. Keller cites Richard Florida's book, The Rise of the Creative Class, which describes the important role the "creative class" has in the economic development of a community. The creative class includes artists, musicians, scientists, teachers and other professionals, who as a group are very diverse and choose to live in communities accepting of diversity. Florida's book identifies those American cities where the most creative people live, which includes Austin, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, New York and Minneapolis among others. Not surprising is Indianapolis' absence from the list. Keller agrees with Florida's thesis, and believes that the creative class will shun Indianapolis if they believe it is intolerant of any group of people, including gays and lesbians.

Economic development is something Keller knows a lot about. He played a major role in the revitalization of downtown, including the successful revitalization of Massachusetts Avenue. He has been responsible for bringing numerous art galleries and restaurants downtown, as well as the Phoenix Theater. Keller has also been active in revitalizing the old neighborhoods adjoining the downtown area. Keller, a personal property appraiser by trade, has represented a near-eastside district since his election in 2003. His district, which includes neighborhoods such as Woodruff Place, Cottage Home and Holy Cross, was expected to elect a Democrat council member. Most political pundits were surprised when Keller edged out his Democratic opponent, an incumbent council member, by a handful of votes.

Keller describes himself as a "moderate, centrist Republican." Keller finds his position in opposition to discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgendered persons a "natural position" for a "centrist Republican" like himself. He says his views are similar to most of the Republicans he grew up with in Marion County. He said he has been approached by dozens of Republicans of all ages since the council's vote last April applauding him for his support of Proposal 68. According to Keller, last April the majority of the council reacted to a "vocal minority"; the next time Keller promises the voice of the "centrist majority" will be heard. Keller also assures us that he will not be the lone Republican vote next time. "There will be more Republican votes next time, " said Keller.

The Marion County Republicans are fortunate to have a voice of reason like Keller's among its elected officials. If it has any hopes of returning to power in Marion County, it is going to have to reach out to more people who think like Keller; otherwise, Democrats will continue to hold their new-found power for many years to come.

GOP Leader Grilled Over Party's Stance on Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Earlier this year gay activists in Washington, fed up with the national Republican Party’s support of federal and state constitutional amendments to ban same sex marriages, took aim at former Bush campaign chief and current Republican National Chairman, Ken Mehlman, and two of his top lieutenant’s, Dan Gurley and Jay Fanning. According to D.C. area gay activists and as reported on, Mehlman, Gurley and Fanning are all gay. Mehlman neither admitted nor denied the claim. The site pointed to a provocative internet ad Gurley had placed seeking sex with other men, making the claim against him nearly impossible to refute. Jay Fanning, long-time CFO of the Republican National Committee, had led an openly gay life prior to the disclosure and openly acknowledged his homosexuality when confronted with the question according to the report. Those making the claims against Mehlman, Gurley and Fanning believed it was hypocritical for them to assist the national party in supporting bigoted public policies against homosexuals while privately leading lives as homosexual men. The disclosures were widely reported in D.C. area gay media but completely ignored by the mainstream media.

Known for tough and unbiased questioning of his guests, NBC’s Meet the Press host Tim Russert, during this past Sunday’s show grilled his guest, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, at length about homosexuality and gay marriage without directly asking Mehlman if he was gay. Unbelievably, when asked whether he thought homosexuality was a choice, Mehlman responded, “I don’t know the answer to that question.” Mehlman instead shifted the subject to President Bush’s belief in non-discrimination. Mehlman said of Bush, “He believes in equal treatment. He believes in respect for all.” Mehlman then, however, attempted to separate the equal treatment of gays and lesbians from the issue of marriage. According the Mehlman, “[t]he fundamental question of marriage ought to be defined in the way it’s been defined for more than 200 years of our nation’s history, which is by the people’s representative at the state legislatures.”

Mehlman must understand that advocates for discrimination have traditionally relied upon the mantle of states’ rights to further their aims. The states’ rights tradition enabled southern states to treat African-Americans as second-class citizens for an entire century after the adoption of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution at the conclusion of the civil war. The reason we have a Bill of Rights in both our federal and state constitutions is because the founders understood that you could not leave issues of fundamental fairness and equality to the will of the masses. They understood that at any given time a majority might be mustered to deny equality to a minority with whom the majority differed. That is why both our federal and state constitutions guarantee everyone certain fundamental rights which cannot be denied by the government or an oppressive majority.

In spite of the equal protection clause in both the federal and state constitutions, only sixteen states currently protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Most Americans still live in states where it is legally permitted to discriminate against persons because of their sexual orientation or identity. If President Bush truly believes gays and lesbians are entitled to equal treatment, then I ask Mr. Mehlman why Bush and the Republican Party have not joined together to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which already enjoys the support of more than a dozen Republican senators and representatives?

You cannot separate the issue of equal treatment and gay marriage as Mehlman argues. The only motivation for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is to constitutionalize discrimination against homosexuals; it does absolutely nothing to protect heterosexual marriages as its proponents claim. It was similarly argued in the past that it was necessary to ban interracial marriages in order to protect this sacred institution, which was based upon a Christian fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. Many southern states in fact once banned interracial marriages for this unfounded reason. No person of faith can credibly make this argument today, although it was once a prevailing Christian view. Just as the interracial marriage ban has been soundly rejected so must the gay marriage ban be rejected. Mehlman, a Harvard law graduate, knows better and should be ashamed of himself for arguing otherwise.

Undeterred by the Republican Party’s wrong-headed stance on this issue, Mehlman boasted to Russert during the interview that 23% of gay and lesbian voters supported President Bush for re-election. Instead of celebrating such a low achievement, Mehlman and the Republican Party should be asking themselves why 77% of this diverse group of Americans failed to support the President and what can the party do in the future to expand its base of support among this group of voters. It could begin by ending its embracement of the bigoted agenda of extremist Christian fundamentalists and returning to the roots of the Republican Party as the party of civil rights in this country.

The Republican National Committee should be applauded for its willingness to hire gay persons to fill such important positions in its organization. This demonstrates that Republicans at the highest level understand and respect gays and lesbians as equal persons. However, the party’s public policy positions are completely at odds with its own employment practices. Party leaders need to re-think its position on matters of civil rights if it wants to remain the majority party.

An exerpt of Russert’s Meet the Press exchange with Mehlman on June 5 is provided below:

MR. RUSSERT: Will the president continue to push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage?

MR. MEHLMAN: The president strongly believes that marriage in this country ought to be between a man and a woman. He also believes it is something that ought to be decided by the people. He doesn't believe that judges ought to impose their will on the people. And because there have been a number of judicial decisions, most recently in Nebraska, that have made that decision for the people. He believes that a constitutional amendment is appropriate so the people can weigh in. It's something that's before the United States Senate. It's one of their agenda items they intend to move on this year, and I think we can expect to see them do that.

MR. RUSSERT: You've been trying to broaden the base of the Republican Party and yet Log Cabin Republicans, gay Republicans, issued this statement in the course of last year's election: " is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the President's support for an anti-family Constitutional Amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships. ... Some will accuse us of being disloyal. However, it was actually the White House who was disloyal to the 1,000,000 gay and lesbian Americans who supported him four years ago in 2000. Log Cabin's decision was made in response to the White House's strategic political decision to pursue a re-election strategy catered to the radical right. ... Using gays and lesbians as wedge issues in an election year is unacceptable to Log Cabin..."

MR. MEHLMAN: I would respectfully disagree with their statement on that. I think this is an issue in which there's some disagreement. The fact is if you look at the exit polls about 23 percent of gays and lesbians voted for this president, so lot of folks disagreed with what the Log Cabin Republicans said. I'm glad they're supporting the president's position on Social Security. But I think that fundamentally for the president and for millions of Americans, this is an issue of principle. Who should decide on a critical question of how we define marriage in this country? Should it be decided by an activist court or by the people? We believe the people should make this decision.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

MR. MEHLMAN: I don't know the answer to that question. I don't think it matters to the fundamental question here because at bottom, this president believes in non-discrimination. He believes in equal treatment. He believes in respect for all. He also believes, separate and apart from that question, that the fundamental question of marriage ought to be defined in the way it's been defined for more than 200 years of our nation's history, which is by the people's representative at the state legislatures.

MR. RUSSERT: But the Log Cabin Republicans will say if you're born gay, it's a biological determination, not a matter of choice.

MR. MEHLMAN: And that's--that may be, but the fact is that's irrelevant to question of the public definition of marriage. They're two totally different issues.