Friday, October 14, 2005

Brizzi Reaffirms Non-Discrimination Policy

In a welcome departure from Republican Senator Pat Miller’s aborted attempt to regulate reproductive rights in a discriminatory fashion towards gays and lesbians, Marion County’s highest elected Republican announced that he has formalized an anti-discrimination policy for his office towards gays and lesbians. The Indianapolis Star in a front-page, headline story today reports that Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has approved a formal employment policy within his office prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Brizzi emphasizes that the policy is a reaffirmation of a long-time policy practiced by his office as earlier reported by Advance Indiana. Brizzi told the Star, “My personal philosophy is that we don’t discriminate.” Described as a “rising star in the GOP", the story quotes Brizzi as saying: “We put it in writing because it became an issue [after the City-County Council defeated a countywide measure banning such discrimination in April].” Brizzi said, “I think I have taken a stand in our policy: that sexual orientation is not a factor in fighting crime.”

As with Governor Daniels’ anti-discrimination policy for state employees, the news drew a swift and negative reaction from the Christian right. “I’m disappointed the prosecutor would do that, and we would oppose it just as we did with the governor,” Advance America leader Eric Miller told the Star. Miller told the Star “that just like gay marriage, [it] wasn’t good for families.” While Miller now finds himself at odds with the State’s two leading Republicans on gay civil rights, Miller doesn’t seem concerned. He told the Star, “ . . . I don’t see a sea change in the Republican rank-and-file.”

The Indiana Family Institute’s Curt Smith reacted in a similarly negative fashion. “We still think the city is best served by not creating special legal rights for homosexuals,” he told the Star. It’s about distinguishing. What we want to do is not discriminate on inappropriate criteria like race or gender,” Smith added.

Republican counselor Scott Keller is hopeful that the move by Brizzi will bolster efforts to pass the Human Rights Ordinance (“HRO”) he and other council members are trying to bring for another vote before the end of the year. He has already succeeded in gaining the vote of another Republican, Lance Langsford. Last April, Keller was the only Republican who voted for the measure. As reported by Advance Indiana, Marion County Republican Chairman Mike Murphy sent e-mails to all Republican council members at the time urging them to vote against the HRO in hopes of using the vote as a divisive wedge issue in the next city elections in 2007. Brizzi’s announcement complicates Murphy’s divisive, negative party strategy for recapturing control of the council and the mayor’s office.

Brizzi’s public move on this critical civil rights issue does not come without personal risk to him. He is facing re-election next year in the state’s largest county, which has been trending Democrat for the past decade. Democrats are hungry to recapture an office they have not held for nearly 16 years. Any split in the Marion County Republican Party could potentially weaken Brizzi’s re-election chances. Because he has chosen the treatment of all persons equally, a founding principle of the Party of Lincoln, over the far right’s urge to promote discrimination towards gays and lesbians for political expediency, Advance Indiana tips its hat to Brizzi. Let’s hope other Republicans in Indiana start following the lead of Daniels and Brizzi and turn away from the Christian right’s appetite for promoting discrimination.


Anonymous said...

Carl Brizzi's non-discrimination policy is not nearly as strong as the Goernor's. Why? The only reason he is even discussing gay rights is because he is in for the campaign of his political career.

Anonymous said...

If he is using this is a campaign ploy to get votes, then doesn't that show you that the majority of Hoosiers are against discrimination of gays?

Come on. Gay bashing is so 2004.