Monday, June 13, 2005

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jefferson and Lincoln would have disagreed. 90% of founding Father's quotes came from the Bible. The Bible teaches that God hates sodomy and that it is a sinful choice "against nature" (Rom. 1).