Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Clark Laments: And You Too, Brizzi?

Indiana Family Association flock leader Micah Clark has reacted to Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi’s non-discrimination policy towards gays and lesbians in a hate-filled and bigoted fashion that personifies what the Christian right has become in Indiana and throughout the country. In an e-mail to the faithful titled "And You Too Brizzi", Clark unleashes a verbal assault on Brizzi for his policy and issues a threat of political reprisal against him.

As Advance Indiana reported last week, Brizzi’s statement of principle against discrimination of any form in his office, including sexual orientation, was not without risk. The Christian right pummeled Governor Mitch Daniels for months for adopting a similar policy until Daniels finally capitulated and came out against any generalized civil rights law for gays and lesbians. Of Brizzi’s move Clark says, “It would be hard to interpret Brizzi’s move as anything other than a slap in the face of almost every Republican on the Indianapolis City Council who voted against [the HRO].” Clark begrudgingly concedes, “One Republican council member, Scott Keller, strongly supports the homosexual political agenda and is the co-author of [the HRO].”

Clark has a warning to Brizzi and other Republicans. “[He] is often mentioned as an up and coming political leader, but this lurch to the left will not help endear him to the base of the party. Many political leaders, particularly establishment Republicans, still don’t ‘get it.’ They want voters to think they support traditional values. Then they turn around once in office and pander to homosexual activists as if we stopped watching. Brizzi’s move is not merely a political misstep in an effort to appease social liberals . . . Prosecutor Brizzi’s endorsement of the homosexual agenda, just days after a similar policy was soundly rejected on a bipartisan vote of the city council, was a tragic error in judgment and a slap in the face to some of his most faithful supporters.” Clark promises a forthcoming editorial he penned for the Indianapolis Star that will further elaborate on the dangers of elevating “private sexual behavior” as a protected right.

It is interesting to observe that Clark’s e-mail reads as a political communication of one Republican leader to a group of Republicans. Clark’s group claims to be a non-partisan group in order to attain federal not-for-profit status. Clark’s e-mail clearly unmasks the group for what it is: a highly partisan, political organization that is unlawfully benefiting from its tax-subsidized status. Advance Indiana has reported extensively on Advance America’s and Eric Miller’s blatant abuse of his organization’s tax-exempt status by engaging in extensive lobbying and partisan political activities.

But Clark is not deterred by Brizzi's actions. To the faithful Clark tells them to keep an eye out on legislation in Ohio, as if to expect similar legislation here in Indiana. Not to be outdone by Senator Pat Miller, Clark speaks glowingly about the Ohio legislation known as the “Community Defense Act.” Its purpose is to “reduce the adverse effects of sexually oriented businesses.” As Clark describes it: “First it gives townships the authority to regulate the businesses. Second, it would set new statewide standards such as an end to topless dancing at midnight and prohibitions against physical contact between dancers and patrons.” Like Miller's proposal, it looks like this one will sit just as badly with the straight community as it does the gay community.

Clark complains to his faithful that “[t]hose of us who take the heat for criticizing these GOP leaders are quickly portrayed as extremists. I fully expect this to happen again if my editorial is printed in the Indianapolis Star.” He’s right.

Let’s hope that Carl Brizzi stands firm on his principle of non-discrimination in the face of the onslaught he will be forced to endure over the coming months. He most assuredly will be bombarded with auto-emails generated by a computer in Tupelo, Mississippi just as city council members in Indianapolis were last spring over the HRO and Governor Daniels over his EEO policy. It is always refreshing to see a politician like Brizzi place principle above politics. It is all too rare these days. Republicans and Democrats alike who oppose discrimination in any form should stand up for Brizzi.


Anonymous said...

It is simply not enough to say that Brizzi(R) is doing the right thing by the queer community until it is known that he is doing so for the RIGHT REASON. Until such time, encouraging the queer community to come to his support is yet another irrational set-up for a Daniels-style slap in the face for any who do so.

Gary R. Welsh said...


I think a distinction can be made between Brizzi and Daniels. Brizzi had the benefit of hindsight in seeing the Christian right's reaction to Daniels' policy. He obviously knew then what he was getting into by enacting the policy unlike Daniels. As already evidenced, Clark is threatening to chip away at his base, and he is up for re-election next year. Don't put it past these religious nuts to challenge him in the primary. Given that, he either made the decision because a) he's a man of principle; b) he understands the changing demographics of the county and is moving, accordingly, in that direction; c) he's a sadomasochist who just loves being beaten up on by the religious right; or d) he's politically inept. I think he's a smart man. I think it's probably a little of a and b, but more of a, particularly since even a lot of Democrat politicians in Marion County haven't quite caught on either. But I think there is definitely a big difference between him and Daniels. He obviously feels more comfortable talking openly about his policy than Daniels has demonstrated to date. And he obviously didn't shy away from media coverage of its enactment like Daniels did. He simply enacted his in the middle of the night and hoped noone other than the gay community would learn about it.