Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gay Republican Seeks To Unseat Incumbent Representative

The North Vernon Plain Dealer & Sun reports that Jennings county native Brent Mullikin, who is gay and Republican, plans to challenge incumbent Republican State Representative Billy Bright in the 69th House District in the 2006 primary election. Reporter Liam Rich says, "[Mullikin] is not your run-of-the-mill baseball cap but rather a loudly flamboyant and wildly colorful, extra tall gentleman’s top hat that one cannot help but be intrigued by and instinctively drawn towards." A self-described "charismatic Reaganite", the story reports that "Mullikin believes it is time for a little innovation in order to remedy the blights of today’s day and age that would have left our forefathers dumbfounded."

Mullikin's opponent, Representative Billy Bright, supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and opposes amending Indiana's civil rights law to prohibit discrimination of gays and lesbians. Mullikin does not believe that he's being gay will hinder his electoral chances. “Society is becoming more and more accepting of homosexuals,” he said. “(Plus) I’m friendly. What you see is what you get. Most people like that.” He went on to say that “homosexuals are all inclusive,” and that they don’t understand blind animosity nor discrimination. They abhor them both, actually, he said the story reported.

A 1983 graduate of Jennings County High School, Mullikin attended Indiana University in Bloomington where he was active in student government politics. He left after his third year due to financial constraints and entered the workforce. The report said: "Mullikin is a Roman Catholic and considers his faith to be very deep. He would also like to see prayer back in the classroom, but due to our Constitutional restraints it is against the law. The minute the law starts bending for one faith, it begins impeding and discriminating against another, he said.
'It’s all gray area,' Mullikin says, 'and gray area is what I love to work with!'”

Mullikin has already launched a door-to-door campaign according to the report. If you would like to contact Mullikin, you can reach him at 812-346-4280 before 11:00 p.m., or you can e-mail him at

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Indy Pride Posts Smaller Profit As It Struggles With Growing Pains

The 2005 Indy Pride Festival celebrated its most successfully attended event this past June at Indianapolis' University Park, with nearly 25,000 people in attendance according to park police. Not surprisingly, the organization took in a record amount of money for the event, nearly $150,000. What some may consider a little surprising is the relatively small profit of $24,000 realized by the organization. That translates to a profit of just 16 cents for every dollar raised for the event based upon a financial report prepared by Indy Pride Inc.'s treasurer, Eric M. Munsch.

According to fundraising experts, organizations like Indy Pride, should expect to spend at least 50 cents for every dollar, leaving a profit of 50%. Some organizations fair better even better, while others fair worse. Indy Pride's leadership attributes the smaller profits to a deliberate decision by the organization to spend more money in an effort to grow the event, a move that did succeed in attracting a record number of attendees. The organization believes that higher profits will be realized by the organization in future years as the event reaps financial rewards of becoming a larger event.

The financial report shows that the organization spent about one-third of its income, or nearly $48,000 on publicity for the event. More than $20,000 was spent on entertainment-related expenses, including performers, which by all accounts included the best show line-up in the event's history. Site expenses of about $12,000 and $10,000 for event program books accounted for the other largest expenses.

Income from sponsors accounted for more than half of the income realized by the event. More than $20,000 of income was derived from alcohol/beverage sales, while booth vendors kicked in another $18,000. Advertisers in the event's program guide chipped in over $15,000. Parade entries generated $9,000.

Declining profits are not the only sign of the growing pains being experienced by the organization. Interest in the organization's eleven-member board soared after this year's event. More than 20 persons were recommended by members for the nine open slots on the Board of Directors to be filled at its annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held on September 14, 2005, at Talbott Street night club at 7:00 p.m. A six-member nominating committee appointed by the Board of Directors has nominated 10 persons to fill the 9 open spots. The nominating committee, in a surprise move, dumped two existing Board members, including the organization's vice president, Mike Manning, and its treasurer, Eric Munsch.

Manning and Munsch are both long-time, active volunteers and board members. Manning was viewed by many as the heir apparent to succeed current Indy Pride president, Gary Brackett, who is term-limited. Manning has announced that he will still seek a nomination from the floor at the annual meeting and vie for re-election to the Board, notwithstanding the nominating committee's snub. In an e-mail to Indy Pride members, Manning explained that members who are not planning to attend the annual meeting can still cast their vote by proxy. Members can e-mail the organization's secretary, Jason Carmin, at and express their desire to cast a proxy vote to elect an eligible member to the Board.

Manning blames nominating committee member, Ted Fleischaker, for the snub. Fleischaker is the editor of The Word, which was established in 1991 and claims to be Indiana's largest gay and lesbian newspaper. Fleischaker has generously promoted the Indy Pride event in his publication free of charge, but he and Manning have openly differed over event matters in the past. Some board members have complained that Fleischaker has in the past resorted to threats, including the withdrawal of his promotion of the event in The Word, as a means of exacting his demands from the organization.

Whatever their differences, the organization's board members and volunteers should be applauded for their past efforts in growing Indy Pride. Hopefully, their differences can be set aside after the annual meeting, and everyone can work together to continue building the event to something even bigger.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Daniels Commutes Bairds' Death Sentence

Arthur Paul Baird II killed his parents and his pregnant wife in September, 1985. He was convicted by a Montgomery County jury in 1987. Nobody questioned his guilt and, after exhausting judicial review of his case, he was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection Wednesday morning. An appeal for clemency by his attorney, Sarah Nagy, has convinced Governor Mitch Daniels that life without parole is a more suited punishment for Baird. In annoucing his decision today to commute his sentence, Daniels said in his Order: "My review of the facts of this case leads me to exercise clemency by commuting Baird's sentence. This decision is based on the unique circumstances of this case. All the facts, not one single element, cause me to grant clemency."

In reaching his decision to grant clemency, Daniels rejected the conclusions of the Indiana Parole Board and the Supreme Court. The Parole Board last week voted 3 to 1 against granting Baird clemency. In a divided opinion, the Supreme Court also voted 3 to 2 to allow the execution to proceed after the Parole Board issued its decision.

Governor Daniels cited two issues that led him to reach his conclusion. First, Daniels noted that Indiana law did not allow the Montgomery County jury, in finding Baird guilty, to choose between a death sentence and life without parole, as is allowed under current Indiana law. Baird's family, as well as the jurors, expressed their desire to have Baird serve life without parole rather than be sentenced to death. Secondly, Daniels cited Baird's mental condition at the time he committed the murders of his family members. As Daniels explained: "Courts recognized Mr. Baird as suffering from mental illness at the time he committed the murders, and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm recently wrote that Mr. Baird is 'insane in the ordinary sense of the word.' It is difficult to find reasons not to agree."

Daniels' hastened to add that in reaching his decision he was not "substituting [his] judgment for others on the ambiguous issue of Mr. Baird's degree of insanity." To Daniels, it was sufficient that "had the sentence of life without parole been available in 1987, the jury and the State would have imposed it with the support of the victims' families."

Daniels, a supporter of the death penalty for capital crimes, exercised common sense and good judgment in deciding to grant Baird's request for clemency. Too often in the past Governors have shown too much eagerness to carry out death sentences to demonstrate how tough they are on crime. One of the most egregious cases in modern politics was an execution carried out by then-Governor Bill Clinton in 1992 while he was running for President. Determined not to become another Michael Dukakis, Clinton rejected appeals of persons of all political perspectives to set aside Ricky Rector's death sentence. The mentally challenged Rector told prison guards, as reported in OutSmart magazine in setting aside dessert from his last dinner: "I'm going to eat it after my execution."

Daniels has demonstrated that he sincerely appreciates the executive power he holds to determine another man's fate. He acted with the care and caution with which anyone vested with such an enormous power should act. We can all be comforted when our elected officials make decisions based upon sound public policy rather than political expediency.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Is Karl Rove's Number Up?

Advance Indiana called for the removal of President George W. Bush's, Deputy Chief of Staff and chief political guru, Karl Rove on July 12, 2005 in a story entitled, "Time For Gay Baiting Rove to Hit the Road" for his role in leaking the identity of a covered CIA agent Valerie Plame, who's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, had publicly questioned the Administration's claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the war. As the story's title indicated, Karl Rove has often relied upon gay-baiting in political campaigns to damage his political opponents. Two campaigns cited in the story included then-private citizen Bush's campaign to unseat Governor Ann Richards in 1994 and his presidential primary campaign against Arizona Senator John McCain in 2000. As the slow news days of August set in, Karl Rove began to fade from the headlines. But the Boston Globe today reminded us of the person Karl Rove is and how he may again take center stage after Labor Day.

In an editorial, the Boston Globe described Rove in the least flattering terms. The opinion said: "Rove's record has been consistent. Over 35 years, he has been a master of dirty tricks, divisiveness, innuendo, manipulation, character assassination, and roiling partisanship." The Globe editorial recounts many of the incidents described in Advance Indiana's July 12 story on Rove, but adds several equally as intriguing stories of his hardball politics. The editorial notes that Rove's dirty tricks began at an early age. Though he never graduated from college, he was active in the College Republicans. In 1970 at the age of 19 Rove pretended to volunteer for Alan Dixon, who was a rising star in the Illinois Democratic Party at the time, in his bid to become Illinois Secretary of State. As a mole, Rove managed to steal some stationery and disrupt a campaign event before being outed.

While Rove may have tackled his first bout with dirty political tricks with the incompetence of the Watergate burglars, he would get much better and eventually hone his craft to a fine art. The Globe editorial quotes from political observers of Rove: ''Rove didn't just want to win; he wanted the opponents destroyed." And that he has often succeeding in doing. But the Globe reminds us that the on-going investigation being conducted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald from Chicago is about to conclude nearly two years of evidence gathering and grand jury testimony, including apparent discrepancies in accounts provided by Rove to federal agents and the grand jury. That by the way is the same prosecutor set to go to trial against former Illinois Governor George Ryan next month, and the same prosecutor with current Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyovich and Mayor Richard Daley in the sights of grand juries he has also convened to investigate wide-spread political corruption in the Land of Lincoln.

Rove insists his goal in the outing of Valerie Plame was nothing more than that of a "neutral researcher." The Globe, like Advance Indiana, isn't buying Rove's account. The Globe editorial concludes: "So attention will inevitably turn back again to Karl Rove, who did talk with Novak and other reporters who wrote the story but who is now being portrayed by some as a neutral researcher in the Valerie Plame case. Yes, and sometimes dogs do eat homework." With a prosecutor making the call who has so far proven to be immune from political pressures, Karl Rove's number may indeed be up. Let's hope.

The photo above is obviously a fake photo, used for illustrative purposes only. You must admit, though, it is pretty funny.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Falwell: Civil Rights For Gays Is An American Value!

The Reverend Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority and long-time opponent of gay civil rights, has had a change of heart--a big change of heart. During a recent appearance on MSNBC's, "The Situation With Tucker Carlson", Falwell spoke out in favor of gay civil rights for the first time reports the Washington Blade. Falwell announced his support in the context of a question from the show's host, Tucker Carlson, about whether he was troubled by news that John Roberts had assisted gay activists in preparing to argue the landmark gay civil rights case, Romer v. Evans, to which he responded that he was not at all troubled. When Carlson commented to Falwell that conservatives were always against "special rights" for gays, Falwell responded, "Well, housing and employment are not special rights. I think—I think the right to live somewhere and to live where you please or to work where you please, as long as you‘re not bothering anybody else, is a basic right, not a—not a special right."

But Falwell didn't stop there. He continued, "[C]ivil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or a conservative value. It‘s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on." Wow--if Rev. Falwell finally gets it, then there must be real hope out there.

Why the change of heart you might ask? The Washington Blade attributes the change of heart to the lobbying efforts of a former Falwell aide, Mel White, who worked closely with Falwell and ghost-wrote his auto-biography. White and his partner, Gary Nixon, founded the activist group Soulforce, which seeks to free gays from religious oppression and is based in Lynchburg, Va., near Falwell's church according to the report. Soulforce has done extensive outreach to Falwell according to the story. White and Nixon moved into a rented house across the street from Falwell's church in 2001, after they realized that Falwell was not going to change his views and accept gays without long-term persuasion the Washington Blade story reported. "I think last month when he dealt with his heart condition, he got closer to his maker," Nixon said. "And I think he knows in his heart that what he was doing is wrong."

The next time you hear Micah Clark, Eric Miller or any of the other Christian fundamentalists talking about "special rights" for gays and lesbians tell them what Rev. Falwell has to say: Civil rights for gays is a basic right and an American value. The support for your cause can come from the strangest places sometimes, but it's all good.

HRC Opposes Roberts' Nomination

The Human Rights Campaign, along with several other gay rights organizations, announced today that it will oppose Senate confirmation of Judge John Roberts as a Supreme Court justice. “Judge Roberts has such a narrow view of what the courts can and should do, it’s a wonder he wants the job at all,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Ultimately, this is about an individual’s right to privacy. From women’s rights to religious freedom to civil rights, there is powerful evidence that Judge Roberts would rule against equality.”

HRC's analysis of Roberts' record dovetails that of Advance Indiana's as set forth in several prior posts to this site. The key points are: (1) He favors a very narrow interpretation of the"liberties" embodied in the U.S. Constitution--no right to privacy, e.g.--if it isn't specifically provided in the Bill of Rights, it doesn't exist; (2) He favors a very narrow interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment--only applies to race in his judgment; (3) He supports efforts by Congress to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over important matters, such as school prayer, abortion and marriage; (4) He does not believe it is the proper role of government to take pro-active steps to end discrimination; and (5) Because he is replacing a moderate member of a closely divided court, his ascension to the Court could tip the balance sharply against a Court that would advance civil justice.

One particularly good observation HRC makes about Roberts' attitude towards the gay community can be found in the advice he gave to President Reagan on AIDS in 1985. While the CDC and all leading health experts had already concluded that HIV could not be spread through casual contact at the time, John Roberts argued to the President that he should not assert to parents that HIV-infected children posed no risk to their children at school because the experts might be wrong. As we know, Ryan White gained national prominence after parents at his school near Kokomo objected to his presence in the classroom with their children, claiming that he posed a health risk of infecting their children. Roberts' sympathies with these parents in light of the medical evidence at the time speaks volumes about him.

HRC proferred the following evidence in support of its opposition to Roberts:

Roberts and fundamental rights.
Just two years ago, the Court finally recognized that the Constitutional guarantee of liberty protects our community and our relationships. The basis for the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas was the idea that the Constitution draws a line beyond which the government cannot go. Roberts’s writings clearly indicate that he does not agree with the cases and constitutional foundations of Lawrence. He has criticized the Court for what he claims is an intrusion into areas belonging to legislatures, and dismissed what he calls the “so-called right to privacy.” His record indicates that Roberts would not vote to safeguard our liberties, but instead join Justices Scalia and Thomas in upholding limitations on our freedoms.

Roberts and equal protection.
Roberts has taken a similarly narrow view of the Equal Protection Clause, which provided the basis for its decision in Romer v. Evans. As a Reagan Administration lawyer, Roberts wrote that by reading the Equal Protection Clause to cover classifications other than race, the Court had imposed “values which do not have their source in that document.” We are concerned that his narrow view would likely have led Roberts, had he been on the Court when Romer v. Evans was decided, to conclude that Colorado’s discriminatory law was constitutional.

A note on Roberts and Romer v. Evans. We are mindful that Judge Roberts provided a few hours of pro bono help to the attorneys in Romer v. Evans — a landmark case for our community. Some have said that this work — which consisted mostly of playing the role of a conservative justice — demonstrates that Roberts is not personally anti-gay. This theory is not relevant to the important issue for our community: how Roberts would vote as a Supreme Court justice. Roberts has repeatedly written that the Court should not stand up for civil rights, but rather allow legislatures to enact such laws as they wish — even those that deny the rights that Americans understand to be fundamental.

Roberts and “court stripping.”
Our concern that Judge Roberts would not enforce constitutional protections is reinforced by his writings on “court stripping” statutes. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the so-called Marriage Protection Act, which would have prevented the courts from even hearing challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Roberts’s writings indicate that he believes such statutes are constitutional, a view that undermines the Court’s constitutional function as it has been understood for over 200 years. Should such a measure pass the Congress, Roberts would likely vote to uphold it and effectively block our community at the courthouse door.

Roberts and sound science.
In spite of the clear consensus among social science, psychiatric, psychological, and medical associations in favor of GLBT equality, courts are frequently presented with unfounded assertions that there is conflicting evidence. The way that a judge regards research findings before the Court can affect a case’s outcome. In short, it can mean the difference between Goodridge, in which the Massachusetts court ruled that there was no rational basis for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, and Lofton, in which the Eleventh Circuit upheld Florida’s anti-gay adoption law even though every credible social science and child advocacy group opposed it.

We were troubled to learn that Roberts, as a Reagan-administration attorney, seemed to disregard mainstream scientific evidence about how HIV is transmitted. In September 1985, Roberts cautioned President Reagan against stating that the AIDS virus could not be spread through casual contact among schoolchildren, claiming that this conclusion was in dispute. In fact, August 1985 Centers for Disease Control guidelines clearly stated that “Casual person-to-person contact, as among schoolchildren, appears to pose no risk.” Our community needs to know whether, as a justice, Roberts would look to the sound and tested science about our community. This is an issue that we believe the Senate should examine thoroughly.

Roberts and Congress’s power to protect our community.
Because the GLBT community is particularly vulnerable to hate violence and discrimination, Congress’s authority to prevent these problems is of vital importance to us. Roberts’s record shows that he holds a very limited view of Congress’s authority, and would likely vote with the Court’s most conservative justices in cases challenging civil rights statutes, workplace protections, and hate crimes legislation.

Roberts as a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Justice O’Connor, who announced her retirement on July 1, 2005, has often been a critical swing vote in favor of equality. In Romer v. Evans, she joined a 6-3 majority to strike down an anti-gay law. In Lawrence v. Texas, she wrote a concurring opinion that Texas’s sodomy law violated the Equal Protection Clause. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, she voted to uphold Roe v. Wade — four justices dissented in that case. In two closely divided cases about public displays of the 10 Commandments handed down June 27, she voted to protect the separation of church and state. On all of these areas critical to our civil rights, Judge Roberts has stated that he holds the opposite position. His elevation to the Court would be a shift away from equality.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hostettler and Christian Right Hold Their Own Fringe Festival In Evansville

Not to be outdone by Indianapolis' Fringe Festival this week, the Indiana Family Institute hosted its own little "Fringe Festival" at the Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville. According to the Evansville Courier Press, about 25 area pastors gathered to hear Rep. John Hostettler decry the growing problem of divorce. The paper reported that "Rep. John Hostettler told area clergy that divorce on demand is as dangerous as gay marriage, and pastors' actions will be key to strengthening all Indiana families." "The picture of marriage is the picture of Christian salvation," said Hostettler, who describes his elected office as a ministry. "Any diminishing of that notion - whether homosexual marriage or any other degradation of marriage - is something we must fight in public policy." Hostettler added, "Public policy that is rooted in Scriptural truth."

Hostettler and the group of pastors have apparently decided that federal and state constitutional requirements for the separation of church and state are no longer applicable. The group is up in arms because Indiana ranks 13th among all states in the rate of divorce. The answer according to Rep. Hostettler and the group of pastors gathered at the event is to end "divorce on demand", or what is more commonly known as "no-fault divorce." "Our state is not very marriage-friendly in the law," said Ann Gries, who coordinates Community Marriage Builders, a local nonprofit agency that works to avoid divorce and to promote healthy marriages. According to the report, the group wants to change Indiana law to require a two-step process to marriage with a waiting period and mandatory premarital counseling before the granting of the marriage license. Those who don't want to wait will have to pay a larger fee to finance a marriage counseling program. The report indicated that the Indiana Family Institute would lobby the state legislature to "strengthen state law's stances on family."

Virtually every state in the country has long since adopted a no-fault divorce system. Under antiquated family laws, a married couple could only obtain a divorce by one spouse suing the other spouse for divorce and pleading and proving some recognized ground for ending the marriage, such as adultery or extreme mental cruelty. The old system particularly disadvantaged women married to abusive men. It was also based upon an earlier Christian fundamentalist belief that the woman was the property of a man as evidence by the religious marriage ceremony where the father consents to giving away his daughter to his son-in-law, thereby seizing him of her ownership. And as the traditional ceremonial rite goes "And what God has joined together let no man tear asunder." To revert to the old system of pleading and proving a case for a divorce as suggested by Hostettler and this group of pastors is truly inhumane.

Of course, there was plenty of talk about the need for a gay marriage ban. In defense of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman and barring recognition of same sex civil unions, Pat Fox said, "In 1851 (when the state constitution was adopted), you didn't need a definition of 'marriage.' Everyone knew what it was. Now, you need a definition. The Rev. Paul DeHart added, "If we don't stand for God's principles in our society, who will?" "What God has given us is the gift of democracy." DeHart added, "Christians make the best citizens because we don't answer just to local magistrates."

In a most extraordinary and revealing statement of his beliefs, Rep. Hostettler asserted that public officials are not elected to serve the people. Instead, Hostettler says "all public officials - are ordained deacons of God". The paper reported that "[h]e cited the specific reference to civil government in the Bible, and extended the ordination to leaders of all backgrounds. But Hostettler adds, "That diversity, however, should not limit the role faith plays in American public life." "A pluralistic society is one where all belief systems are present," he said, "but that doesn't mean all value systems are equal." Rep. Hostettler needs to take a look at the Indiana Constitution, which specifically provides that "no religious test shall be imposed on our public officials and offices of trust."

Rep. Hostettler and the Indiana Family Institute, as demonstrated by this gathering, have really strayed into the lunatic fringe. There can be no mistaking the fact that they are intent upon imposing their understanding of Christian law on the rest of society whether we subscribe to it or not. That is not what our founding fathers intended when they incorporated the Establishment Clause into the First Amendment to the Constitution. It was also not the intent of architects of the Indiana Constitution, who took even greater steps to separate religion from government. Rep. Hostettler and his Christian friends are free to practice their belief system, but it is not their right to impose their belief system on the rest of us through the laws by which we are governed. And let's not let them forget that.

Advance Indiana again would call upon Governor Daniels to reconsider his decision to appear at the Indiana Family Institute's dinner next month. His appearance at their event can only alienate him from the majority of mainstream Hoosiers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Kennedy On Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Former Indiana Civil Liberties Union executive director, Sheila Kennedy, writes a very informative column in today's Indianapolis Star distinguishing between civil liberties and civil rights. Kennedy observes that "[c]ivil liberties are rights that individuals have against government." These rights are defined in the U.S. Constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments thereto, and in our own state constitution's complementary bill of rights. These "inalienable rights" Kennedy notes include among others "the right to free expression, the right to worship (or not) as we choose, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures." "Only the government can violate your civil liberties," Kennedy adds.

The federal Bill of Rights were added to the Constitution at the insistence of the people as a condition to the states' ratification of it. Not until after the Civil War and the enactment of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution were the Bill of Rights applicable, not just to the federal government, but to state and local governments as well, as Kennedy duly observes. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits the government from treating equally situated persons unequally.

While civil liberties have been around since the adoption of our Constitution, Kennedy points out that civil rights have taken much longer. The federal Civil Rights Act was not enacted until 1964, which protects people against private acts of discrimination in employment, housing and education. Indiana actually enacted its own civil rights law prior to the federal law. Kennedy says, "There was a lot of resistance to civil rights laws, and there is still a widespread, if covert, attitute of 'What business does government have telling me I can't discriminate?'" "The fiercest resistance has come from people opposed to gays and lesbians," Kennedy adds.

Kennedy observes that opponents of gay civil rights try to confuse the issue by claiming that the "14th Amendment already protects gays, so amending Indiana's civil rights law, or Marion County's Human Relations Ordinance is unnecessary." Kennedy quickly adds, "They kn[ow] better." She comments on the astonishment of one of her students upon learning that it is perfectly legal in Indiana to fire a person for being gay.

While Kennedy's column focuses on the inability of people to understand the difference between civil liberties and civil rights, she may as well added that our own U.S. Supreme Court can't even agree upon what civil liberties are protected by the U.S. Constitution, or if they are protected, on what basis they are founded upon. Conservative members of our Court seem to believe that only those rights specifically delineated in the Bill of Rights are guaranteed to the people. More moderate and liberal members of the Court have recognized a so-called "penumbra" of rights that were reserved to the people upon the enactment of the Constitution. In particular, they cite the 9th Amendment which provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

As explained by Justice Goldberg in the now-famous 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision, [the Ninth Amendment] "was proffered to quiet expressed fears that a bill of specifically enumerated rights could not be sufficiently broad to cover all essential rights and that the specific mention of certain rights would be interpreted as a denial that others were protected." In Griswold, the Court was faced with deciding the constitutionality of a state law regulating the use of contraceptives as a means of birth control. The Court struck down the statute, holding that it violated a person's "right to privacy."

Justice Douglas, writing for the majority, in striking down the Connecticut law said: "The present case . . . concerns a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees. And it concerns a law which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar principle, so often applied by this Court, that a 'governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms.'"

Dissenting conservative justices decried the opinion, arguing that no such right of privacy was guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. As Justice Black explained: "The Court talks about a constitutional 'right of privacy' as though there is some constitutional provision or provisions forbidding any law ever to be passed which might abridge the 'privacy' of individuals. But there is not. . . I like my privacy as well as the next one, but I am nevertheless compelled to admit that government has a right to invade it unless prohibited by some specific constitutional provision."

Of course, the so-called "right to privacy" paved the way for the controversial Roe v. Wade decision of the Court in 1973, which guaranteed to women control of their reproductive rights; however, the Court shied away from Griswold's "right of privacy" as a basis. Instead the Court found a woman's right to an abortion as a fundamental right under the 14th Amendment. Gay rights advocates would later argue that state anti-sodomy laws directed against them violated their right to privacy. In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Kennedy writing for the majority struck down a state anti-sodomy law as a violation founded upon liberty under the 14th Amendment. Kennedy said, [The "right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives [people] the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter."

If it all sounds a little confusing, it is indeed. While the Court in each instance reached an outcome favorably disposed to fundamental notions of civil liberties, it reached each of its decisions in this line of cases on a different basis. What's the point of it all you might ask? We are now in the process of confirming a new justice to the Supreme Court to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor has been a moderate judge, erring on the side of liberty. Judge Roberts, her proposed replacement, has a very hostile view towards what he calls "judicial activism," which is shorthand for opposition to any broad interpretation of liberties guaranteed to the people by the Constitution. In particular, Roberts, like his former boss, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, believes there is no fundamental right of privacy guaranteed to the people as described in Griswold, whether founded upon the Bill of Rights or a liberty interest under the 14th Amendment as found in Lawrence v. Texas. That should give any proponent of civil liberties pause in supporting Judge Robert's elevation to the Supreme Court.

Monday, August 22, 2005

AI Editor Gary R. Welsh Honored By Phi Delta Phi; Fraternity Adopts Broad Non-Discrimination Policy

Advance Indiana's Editor and founder, Gary R. Welsh, received the Outstanding Province President Award from the International Legal Fraternity of Phi Delta Phi, of which he has been a member since 1990, at its 57th General Convention, August 17-20, 2005, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The A. Frank Vick Award is given in recognition of the Province President of the fraternity whose diligence, dedication and integrity during the past biennium best emulates the character of A. Frank Vick, a former now-deceased Province President in whose name the award is presented. Welsh is a 1993 graduate of Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis where he was a member and magister of Willkie Inn. Welsh has served as Province President for Province 12 since 1994, which includes IU Bloomington's Foster Inn, IU Indy's Willkie Inn, Notre Dame's More Inn (currently inactive) and Valparaiso's Norris Inn.

Phi Delta Phi is the oldest legal fraternity in the United States. It has initiated more than 200,000 persons since its founding in 1869, including several American presidents, many Supreme Court justices and a countless number of prominent members of the bar. Its purpose is to establish a higher standard of professional ethics within the legal profession. The fraternity has more than a hundred active inns at laws schools across Canada, Mexico and the United States, as well as one active inn in Poland.

Advance Indiana is also pleased to report that the student delegates of the 57th General Convention adopted a very broad non-discrimination clause for membership in the organization as part of its constitution, including language covering sexual orientation and gender identity. The constitutional amendment, which received near-unanimous approval of the student delegates, is intended to demonstrate to law schools and students the organization's commitment to diversity and non-discrimination.

The fraternity has come a long way on this point. Once an organization for white males only, the student delegates in attendance at this year's convention reflected the broad diversity of today's Phi Delta Phi, which includes many minorities and nearly one-half female. Judge James F. Holderman, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of Illinois, who participated on an ethics panel during the convention, remarked on how impressed he was by the group's diversity. He noted that, while attending the 1969 convention as a student delegate, he took to the floor to fight for a constitutional amendment to allow women to join the fraternity. While he lost that battle, delegates at the following convention in 1971 openned membership for the first time to women.

Welsh attributes his success in the organization to a fellow fraternity mentor, Karl Mulvaney. Mulvaney, who is a distinguished appellate attorney and partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Bingham McHale, is a past international president of Phi Delta Phi. Mulvaney encouraged and assisted Welsh in attaining greater participation in the fraternity. Welsh and Mulvaney are in company with many prominent Hoosiers who also joined the fraternity. Those include former Republican presidential candidate and accomplished attorney and author, Wendell Willkie, former Senator Birch Bayh, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard and noted businessman and philanthropist Lloyd Balfour among many others.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Court Slaps Bradford's Hand for Wiccan Decision: No Constitutional Implication

Judge Patricia Riley, writing for a unanimous Indiana Court of Appeals in In Re Jones, correctly ruled that Marion Superior Court's Chief Judge, Cale Bradford, abused his discretion when he recently ordered as part of a child custody decision that the parents of an Indianapolis child must shelter their child from "involvement and observance of non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." But the decision was not founded upon any constitutional ground and, as such, offers no guidance on how far Indiana courts can go in imposing restrictions on parental involvement in the religious teaching of their chidren. In an apparent slap at Bradford, Judge Riley commented that Bradford's ruling, a reaffirmation of an earlier order by a commissioner for his court, reflected Bradford's "personal opinion of [the parents] Wiccan beliefs and rituals" rather than a statutorily permitted basis for the restriction.

In reaching its decision, the Court said it was exercising judicial restraint in constitutional matters. Under this maxim, a court should refrain from deciding constitutional questions unless there are no non-constitutional grounds presented for resolving a case. Here, the Court noted that Indiana law permits custodial authority to be limited upon a showing that either the physical health of the child is endangered or the emotional health of the child is impaired. The record in this case showed no such finding on either basis. Instead, the court found that Judge Bradford had imposed his own personal opinions of Wiccan beliefs and rituals. That was an abuse of his discretion according to Judge Riley. Accordingly, she ordered the restriction removed from his original child custody order.

When Judge Bradford originally issued his order, it quickly gained national notoriety--attention that did not reflect well on Indiana courts. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union quickly intervened on behalf of the child's father in an effort to overturn Judge Bradford's order. While the Court of Appeals' decision is certainly welcome news, there is not much that can be read into the opinion other than Judge Bradford erred in the way he reached his decision by imposing his own personal views on the parent's religious beliefs. It must be observed that Judge Bradford's order could well have been upheld under Indiana law if he had made a finding in the record that, by involving the child in Wiccan beliefs and rituals, either the child's physical health might have been endangered or his emotional health impaired. Whether such an application of Indiana law would violate any constitutional right a parent has to control the religious teachings of their own children is a matter to be decided another day. But at least this embarrassing case can fade away as a memory only for now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Just Us Rally Focuses on Blocking Gay Civil Rights

Christian fundamentalists gathered this weekend at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee for an event they dubbed, Justice Sunday II-God Save the United States and this Honorable Court," which was sponsored by the Family Research Council. The event is the second in a series. The first gathering took place in Louisville, Kentucky, in April when the group celebrated the bi-partisan Senate agreement to end threats of filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees. This weekend's event was billed as "an attempt to awaken Christians to the importance of appointments to the Supreme Court", but it also became a rally supporting John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court according to the Washington Post. The more aptly titled "Just Us" gathering also served as a rallying cry to block gay civil rights. And the usual suspects and your garden variety of hypocrites were on hand to foment more gay bigotry.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, an exterminator by trade, told the faithful that "left-leaning courts [are] imposing a 'judicial supremacy' over the country to implement liberal policies that cannot win a majority in the legislative process." As reported in the Washington Times, DeLay complained that leftist judges were imposing "new policies on our nation without a single bill passing through a single house of a single legislature." The Washington Times report continued, "Liberal rulings from upholding 'same sex marriage' to banning religious symbols on public property, were an attempt by courts to 'manipulate the public will' and 'impose their ideology on the unwilling masses.'" DeLay said, "Moral values that have defined the progress of human civilization for millenia are cast aside in favor of those espoused by a handful of unelected, life-time appointed judges." DeLay assured the "Just Us" crowd that Judge Roberts "appears to understand and appreciate the critical but limited role of the judicial system in our constitutional government."

Tom DeLay preaching to anyone about morals is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. A national embarrassment to the GOP, DeLay has been censored by the House ethics committee no fewer than three times for improper conduct as a member of Congress and is currently under investigation for further possible violations. Most inside observers also expect DeLay to be indicted soon as a result of an on-going FBI investigation of political corruption in the nation's capitol.

DeLay you may remember was highly critical of Terri Schiavo's husband for his efforts to fulfill her wishes and end her suffering after living in a vegetative state for years. As reported at Slate .com, DeLay argued that, in the absence of a living will, Shiavo's husband could not make that decision for her. He told reporters at the time, "It's not for any one of us to decide what her quality of life should be . . . It's not any one of us to decide whether she should live or die." But that is exactly what DeLay did when his father faced a similar fate 16 years earlier after suffering a tramatic brain injury in an accident that left him in a vegetative state. DeLay's father had no living will, but DeLay and other family members within days of his father's accident made the decision to withhold life-sustaining treatment. His mother reported that the only time he showed any sign of life was when one of his sons entered the room--his pulse would accelerate. His father died naturally, without delay or intervention by any meddling outsiders.

And what about the separation of powers DeLay claims to be fighting to maintain by reigning in judicial activists? When "Judge DeLay" decided he didn't like the decision of Florida's courts to allow withdrawal of artificial hydration and nutrition for Schiavo so she could die naturally, he decided that Congress should intervene and pass special legislation to protect Terri's "right to live." In explaining the need for the special legislation, DeLay, according to said, "Congress had to intervene rather than 'take it from just a few people that have decided whether she lives or dies. For one person in one state court to make this decision is too heavy. That's why it does take all of us to think this through, think about the Constitution and its protection of life'". Fortunately, DeLay's absurd and, in all probability, unconstitutional legislative effort to overturn the Florida court's decision failed. But that didn't stop DeLay from hurling personal insults at Schiavo's husband. He said, "I don't have a whole lot of respect for a man that has treated this woman in this way. … My question is: What kind of man is he?" The real question is: What kind of man was Tom DeLay to attack Schiavo for making the same decision he made for his father?

Yes, it wouldn't have been a conservative, Christian rally without words of wisdom from the anti-gay rights activist, Phyllis Schlaffly. Schlaffly, according to the Tennessean, told the Just Us folks, "We will not stand activist judges who legislate from the bench, who remake our culture . . . We will not tolerate judges who change the rules of our written Constitution." Of course, Schlaffly is the person largely credited with derailing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution during the 1970s, which she claimed, in part, would pave the way for gay marriages. According to a Knight-Ridder report, Pat Robertson once said, "If it were not for this lady, we would have had homosexual rights written into the Constitution."

Knight-Ridder reported that a fews years ago, Schlaffly's oldest son, John, who is a 40-something attorney who still lives with his mother in her stately Alton, Illinois home, was outed by Queer World magazine. After he was outed, Schlaffly admitted that she had known her son was gay since he was very young, but that didn't change her view of homosexuals. She complained that the only reason people bring up her son being gay is to "embarrass [her]." The opinionated Schaffly said she didn't have a clue why her son was gay. "I don't know and he doesn't know,'' Schlafly said. "He thinks he's always been. But about this thing of being born gay, he doesn't know that. I don't know if anybody knows that.'' Remarkably, she insists that she believes gays are entitled to "equal rights", just not "preferential rights." What she means by "equal rights" is not at all clear given her fight against all significant gay civil rights efforts of her time.

The rejected Supreme Court nominee, Judge Robert H. Bork, speaking to the "Just Us" folks, warned that "the high court has defined homosexuality as 'a constitutional right . . . and once homosexuality is defined as a constitutional right, there is nothing the states can do about it, nothing the people can do about it." Interestingly, Bork has always insisted that his views from the standpoint of judicial interpretation were "neutral", particularly on matters of religion. His participation at such a highly charged gathering of Christian fundamentalists, hell-bent on appointing judges who are willing to impose their narrow religious views on all Americans calls into questions his prior claim of neutrality on matters of religion.

And of course, the esteemed Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, was ever present, if not in person, then by video. In a video-taped message to the group, Dobson charged that the Supreme Court had created "an oligarchy." He said, "America's court system is tearing at the very fabric of this nation . . . [an] unelected, unaccountable, and often arrogant judiciary, is imposing judicial tyranny as judges legislate from the bench, being guided by Western Europe that most liberal place on the planet." According to the Tennessean's report, Dobson urged the attendees to defend John Roberts from the likes of Senator Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy and "all the other minions on the left."

Dobson, along with Governor Mitch Daniels, has been invited to speak at an upcoming dinner sponsored by the Indiana Family Institute headed by Curt Smith. Indiana's GLBT community has been highly critical of Governor Daniels' decision to appear before the anti-gay civil rights group that, along with Advance America and the American Family Association, has been so critical of his policy of non-discrimination towards gays and lesbians. Dobson, already known for his extreme views, further marginalized himself recently when he compared embroyonic stem cell research to Nazi medical experiments conducted on Jews and other prisoners held in concentration camps during World War II.

Dobson and other conservatives have also been highly critical of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist after he recently announced support for federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Frist, a surgeon by trade, was not invited to the "Just Us" rally taking place in his own home state. Just four months ago, Frist was celebrated by the group for his efforts to end Senate filibusters of Bush's judicial nominees. That'll teach him not to tow the line.

If only Governor Daniels could be so lucky as Senator Frist and be disinvited to speak at Curt Smith's Indiana Family Institute dinner. Better yet, Governor Daniels should seriously consider whether he wants to associate himself with such a narrow-minded, intolerant group which gives Christianity a bad name.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ron Gibson Opposes HRO On Moral Grounds

Ron Gibson is serving his second term as an at-large member of the Indianapolis City-County Council. An African-American who was raised by a single parent mother who died when he was only 16, he went on to graduate high school, serve in the U.S. Navy and graduate from college. He is employed by the Charter School Association of Indiana. According to his biographical statement on the website, which he wrote, he "believes strongly that his calling in life is to serve people who have little to no say at all. He is an honorable, honest, compassionate, personable man of high spiritual values." He states, "It's not about our position in life, but the role we take with our fellow man. With God and a unified force, we can start to rebuild families and communities."

Ron Gibson was also one of five Democratic councilors who voted against Proposal 68, which would have barred discrimination in housing and employment based on a person's sexual orientation or identity. With the HRO four votes short of the magical fifteen number required for passage, its supporters are engaged in an intense effort to find the four votes needed for passage. Many supporters have placed a lot of hope on winning over Gibson's vote. Advance Indiana's Editor Gary R. Welsh has e-mailed Gibson on several occasions seeking his views on the HRO. Gibson has so far not responded.

Advance Indiana has viewed an e-mail that Gibson sent to Kevin Fyfe shortly after he voted against Proposal 68 in April in which he says he voted as a matter of conscience against the HRO, which he found "morally tough" for him. Gibson said he felt "strongly that every one should be protected", but that "Indianapolis ha[d] not had any complaints filed relating to sexual orientation/gender orientation." He, of course, omits the fact that the City doesn't currently have subject matter jurisdiction to hear such complaints. Why would anyone bother filing a complaint that cannot be heard? Why does he think the HRO is being proposed? The full text of the e-mail Gibson wrote to Kevin Fyfe dated May 3, 2005 is as follows:


Thank you for your e-mail. First, I feel strongly that every one should be protected.
However, Indianapolis has not had any complaints filed relating to sexual orientation/gender identity. In addition, this proposed ordinance was morally tough for me. I voted my convictions. However, I am willing to keep an open mind.

Councilman Ron Gibson

Now to be fair, Gibson is not alone in citing moral or religious reasons for voting against the HRO. Council member Virginia Cain could not have been more clear on that point as Advance Indiana discussed in an earlier story entitled, "Who's Afraid Of Virigina Cain?" And as we have previously discussed, Council member Patrice Abdullah, whose district has the largest population of gays and lesbians, attributed his religious beliefs for his vote against the HRO. Abdullah is a practicing Muslim. So far both Abdullah and Cain have shown a complete close-minded view towards the issue, but we take Gibson at his word that he will "keep an open mind" as he told Kevin Fyfe. After all, he is "an honorable, honest, compassionate, personable man" as he tells us. If you would like to contact Ron Gibson to express your views, you can e-mail him at Hopefully, you will do better getting a reply than Advance Indiana.

Four-Star General Fired For Extramarital Affair!

While the GLBT community is engaged in the debate of whether to out politicians who are hypocritical, the U.S. Army apparently has a zero tolerance policy. The Washington Post reported today that a four-star general has been relieved of his duties for having an extramarital affair with a civilian! According to the report, General Kevin P. Byrnes led the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., where he supervised the recruitment and academic programs at 33 Army schools, from basic training to the war colleges. The Post reported that he had an "unblemished record" after 36 years of service and was prepared to retire in November.

His defense attorney, Lt. Col. David H. Robertson, told the Post that the allegation against Byrnes involves an affair with a private citizen. The allegation against him does not involve a relationship with anyone within the military or even the federal government," Robertson said, emphasizing that the allegations do not involve more than one relationship. "It does not involve anyone on active duty or a civilian in the Department of Defense."

Apparently, under the Uniform Code of Justice, having an extramarital affair is adultery, which is a violation of the Code. The military's removal of a four-star general for having an adulterous affair is unprecedented according to Neal Puckett a military expert. The only good side of the report is that Byrnes will probably not be meted out any further punishment by the Army. "Usually there is no incentive to bring criminal charges, because they are taking his career and flushing it down the toilet," Puckett told the Post. "There's not much more that you can do to a high-ranking officer like that. His legacy is ruined." One army officer said, "He's had an extraordinary career, but at the end of the day, the Army has to hold people accountable for their conduct." Ouch!

Can one imagine if we held our elected public officials to the high standards imposed by the military? If the Army's standard were applied to our public officials, many of them would be gone in a New York minute. So the next time you hear someone complain about exposing a public official's private life because it contradicts the public positions he/she has taken, recall what the Army's punishment was for General Byrnes. Like the Army, in the end we have to hold people accountable for their conduct, no matter how extraordinary their career. So what do you think Micah Clark will have to say about the Army's policy towards hypocrites?

Outing Debate Heats Up As Julia Carson Weighs In

A dialogue among bloggers within the GLBT community openned up last week after GayIndy.Org webmaster, Jeff Newman, penned a story entitled "Two Strikes Your Out," which was published on his own website,, and Bilerico. Advance Indiana followed up on Newman's story with its own, entitled, "When Is A Public Offical's Private Life a Public Matter?" But none other than U.S. Congresswoman Julia Carson has decided to weigh in on the matter.

It happened at Indiana's first Black Pride, a successful three-day event held in Indianapolis last weekend which was attended by several state lawmakers, councilors and, of course, U.S. Representative Julia Carson. While speaking at the event Friday night, Representative Carson had a few choice words for the five Democratic members of the Indianapolis City-County Council who voted against Proposal 68, the human rights ordinance (HRO) which would have prohibited discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or identity. But she had a more pointed message for a particular Democratic council member. Though Carson never mentioned him by name, people in the audience seem to have no trouble discerning the identity of the offending council member.

Carson's little talk at Black Pride set off quite a buzz over the weekend in the GLBT community. By Monday the news sprung on to the pages of Indy area blog sites when one attendee, Tracy Elliott, who heard Carson speak, penned a story entitled, "Outing Little Miss Ron", which Bilerico published. [NOTE: Elliott says the reference in his story's title to "Ron" is to Ron Reagan, Jr.] Elliott, who is the CEO of the Damien Center, in reference to Carson's remarks said, "Outing hypocritical legislators at every level might just get the message across. . . At Friday's opening event of Black Pride, Rep. Carson said as much." As Elliott described, "It was amazing, shocking, remarkable, unprecedented, but she said it was time for those on the City-County Council who voted against Prop. 68 and are living closeted gay lives to change their votes or risk the consequences. I wish someone had recorded the speech so her exact words could be relayed to you, but I have to say that in 30 years of political activity at every level, I've never heard anything like it from an elected official. Nearly everyone in the room knew exactly to whom she was referring. I was happy to tell the two people who asked me."

The council member in question has been thought of as a rising star in the Marion County Democratic Party, even mentioned as a possible replacement for Rep. Carson upon her retirement. Since the council member's vote against the HRO, the rising star has been consumed by a giant black hole from which there may be no escape. Democratic council members who co-sponsored the HRO, Jackie Nytes and Joanne Sanders, felt betrayed by a colleague they had counted as a solid vote in favor of the HRO. Those close to the council member were perplexed because they felt that the sexual orientation of the member was no secret, and that the member's support for the HRO would be a given. As Elliott put it more bluntly in his story, "This sucker . . . has not only risked his sorry political ass by lying to his colleagues about how he would vote -- he assured the sponsors he would support Prop. 68 as far back as when Karen Horseman was on the council -- and by angering the GLBT community who knows his little secret, but he's also pissed off Mrs. Carson, with whom he has a long history."

Elliott's story on Bilerico openned up a lively discussion on the topic among Indianapolis area bloggers. One commenter offerred up the name of another closeted politician, while at least one blogger on Bilerico felt that outing was not a Hoosier value. While Advance Indiana agrees that outing is appropriate when a public official's public positions are at odds with the official's private life, particularly when the his/her public positions work to deny others fundamental rights, it will not name the council member in question without more evidence. Advance Indiana does, however, believe it is appropriate to comment on the matter without naming the council member since a sitting member of the United States Congress has decided it is worthy of public comment.

While the mainstream media has thus far ignored Carson's comments, the Christian right is not ignoring the debate. As reported on Bilerico, Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana weighed in on the latest discussion on outing in a newsletter to his members in which he accused gay activists of "threaten[ing] to invoke gutter politics" by outing hypocritical politicians. Clark told his members, "In what only can be described as a threat of desperation, several homosexual activists in Indiana who head up various web sites and blogs, are now threatening to 'out' or smear various Hoosier politicians. Apparently, by their logic, it is wrong for any legislator to mirror the opinion of a majority of Hoosiers who define marriage as between only one man and one woman."

Clark continued, "Under these homosexual activists' rules, legislators must meet a certain moral standard in order for the legislator to simply believe that both mothers and fathers matter to children and to society. . . something that was once universally seen as common sense.Without seeing their own moral flaws, or by definition their own rejection of traditional sexual morality, these activists are promising to expose skeletons in the closets of state legislators whom they claim are 'hypocrites.' This type of sleazy, gutter politics did not work when pornographer Larry Flynt tried it on congressional Republicans and I doubt if it will change any votes in the State House. "

Clark's claim that Flynt's efforts to expose the hypocrisy of Republican members of Congress who were working to impeach President Clinton did not work are simply not true. In fact, revelations of sexual indiscretions about to be brought to light by Flynt resulted in the abrupt resignations of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Bob Livingstone, who both championed "family values." Also, allegations of Congressman Henry Hyde's infidelity many years earlier while a state legislator also undermined his credibility as the lead House prosecutor against Clinton during his Senate trial.

As to Clark's reference to "sleazy, gutter politics", that is more fitting of the campaign he, Eric Miller and now Curt Smith are waging against Governor Daniels' EEO Policy of non-discrimination against gays and lesbians, the very thought of which seems to cause all of these men so much heartburn. Their malicious lies and distortions about Governors Daniels' EEO Policy in no way represents the Christian values the threesome claim to espouse. People who live in glass houses as they do should be the last to cast stones. Advance Indiana will wear Clark's criticism as a badge of honor.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Curt Smith Attacks Daniels EEO Policy on Christian Radio: Daniels Scheduled to Speak at IFI Event

While Advance America's Eric Miller and American Family Association of Indiana's Micah Clark have been relentless in their attacks on Governor Daniels for adopting an EEO Policy of non-discrimination towards persons based on their sexual orientation and identity, Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute has remained quiet. Smith even invited Governor Daniels to speak at the organization's annual banquet on September 16, joining guest speakers, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Congressman Mike Pence, two outspoken opponents of gay civil rights. Much to the chagrine of the GLBT community, Daniels accepted Smith's invitation. But that's not stopping Smith from going on the offensive against Daniel's EEO Policy after he accepted the group's invitation.

Smith told Elkhart's Christian radio station, WFRN, that he is calling on Governor Daniels to rescind the policy, which the station once again falsely reported "gives special protections to homosexuals and cross-dressers." Smith told WFRN that "homosexuals should not be singled out" for protection. Smith boasted to WFRN that he has been invited to meet with Governor Daniels twice to talk about the issue in contrast to Micah Clark and Eric Miller. The report noted that, "unlike AFA and Advance America", Smith has not "issued harsh e-mail campaigns against the governor's policy." Smith told WFRN that "he wanted to deal with the issue privately with Daniels".

Smith's Indiana Family Institute is affilliated with Rev. James Dobson's Focus on the Family organization. IFI is a 15-year old organization, and like Advance America, it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which engages in blatant, impermissible political activities in violation of Internal Revenue Code regulations for non-profits. It develops voter guides and e-mail alerts concerning legislative actions to advance a Christian fundamentalist agenda. The organization is extremely hostile to the rights of gays and lesbians, supporting legalized discrimination of all forms against gays and lesbians and calling for a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages and civil unions.

Daniels' decision to accept Smith's invitation has not sat well with the GLBT community. The Indiana Action Network is organizing a protest against IFI's fall event. The event, which is billed as "Restoring Families Rebuilding Communities", is "nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on GLBT families" according to IAN. In a press release announcing the protest, IAN said: "The IFI and Focus on the Family call themselves "ministries" that focus on 'family issues' and 'child-rearing'. In reality, these organizations espouse intolerance and bigotry. Two very prominent Hoosier politicians are giving this fringe organization and it's supporters an air of respectability they do not deserve."

Two months ago IAN conducted a highly successful protest against House Speaker Brian Bosma at a fundraiser he held in the heart of Indianapolis' gay community at the Rathskellar. Bosma, who used gay-baiting in legislative campaigns to win a majority for his party and has trumpeted a constitutional ban on same sex marriages and civil unions, was greeted by nearly 100 protestors with signs and shouts of protest against his gay-bigoted views.

It is hard for many to understand why Governor Daniels has decided to enter the lion's den of the IFI event, particularly in the presence of such a controversial figure as the Rev. James Dobson. Rev. Dobson recently set off another firestorm when he equated embryonic stem cell research to inhumane medical experiments conducted by the Nazis on Jews and others held in concentration camps during World War II. Some Holocaust survivors have demanded an apology for the absurd comparison. Dobson was reacting with indignation towards Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist's announcement that he now supports federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Frist, a surgeon by trade with presidential ambitions, has been widely condemned by Christian fundamentalist activists like Dobson, since making his announcement last week.

Advance Indiana is willing to give Governor Daniels the benefit of the doubt for speaking to the organization as long as he speaks up in defense of his EEO policy and does not say anything that would lend credibility to the group's extremist positions. But in light of Smith's public attack and demand that he rescind his policy, his staff may be well-advised to reconsider whether he has anything to gain by appearing before a group whose views are going to be so tainted by the disinformation their organization's leaders have fed to their adherents. Moreover, he will be in company of intolerant conservatives who many consider to be operating more on more on the fringes. That is not going to help him with mainstream Hoosiers who decide the outcome of elections.

Smith's motives in asking Daniels to appear at the IFI event may not be so pure. It appears more and more likely that either Advance America's Eric Miller or another conservative alternative will challenge Daniels for re-nomination in 2008. Miller's campaign committee from his unsuccessful 2004 bid against Daniels remains intact and open for business according to the recent filings with the Indiana Elections Division. Smith may be setting Daniels up for an opportunity to highlight the differences he and his extremist adherents have with his "controversial" EEO policy. A confrontation at the event could prove embarrassing for Daniels. And he's had more than his share of those lately.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Roberts And Romer: A Red Herring

When President George W. Bush first announced his choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, some dubbed him the "stealth" nominee because he supposedly had left so little in the way of a paper trail during the quarter-century he's been practicing law and more recently, sitting as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. But information quickly worked its way to the surface, sometimes with the assistance of blog sites like Advance Indiana, that made it pretty clear that John Roberts was indeed very conservative in the style of his former boss and mentor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, his close friend and mentor Justice Antonin Scalia and his fellow colleague from the Reagan-Bush administrations, Clarence Thomas.

Evidence of the extent of his conservative ideology came from testimonies of his close friends and colleagues who know him best and from his own writings, in which he placed himself to the right of more moderate conservatives, such as his former boss and Solicitor General, Theodore Olson. While his views on issues such as abortion, civil rights and church-state started to become more clear, his views on gay civil rights was much more elusive. Gay civil rights leaders lamented about the lack of information they had on Roberts' views, and were left only to analogize the views with whom he most closely identifies himself ideologically, such as Rehnquist and Scalia.

Conservatives of all stripes warmly embraced the nominee, assured that President Bush had not made the same mistake as his father by nominating a "stealth" candidate like Justice David Souter, who conservatives believe had sold them out by becoming one of the Court's most liberal members. But as the perception of Roberts as a hard-line conservative began to crystalize, Bush administration sources and supporters began dropping tid-bits of information to the media to cast doubt on Roberts' perception as a reliable conservative, perhaps fearful that Democrats might vote in lock-step against the nominee and even filibuster his nomination, an option still available under current Senate rules, if they thought he was going to vote like a Scalia or Thomas. But when supporters of Roberts planted a story in the Los Angeles Times crediting Roberts with a critical role in assisting a coalition of gay rights organizations in over-turning a Colorado law that discriminated against homosexuals, Karl Rove and company may have reached too far in their efforts to manipulate the public's perception of Roberts.

The Colorado law in question was challenged in the 1996 landmark Romer v. Evans case. Colorado voters enacted a statewide law by referendum which prohibited local units of government in the state from enacting local laws banning discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. The enactment of the statewide law had the effect of nullifying numerous local ordinances adopted by various communities. Aggrieved gays, lesbians and local municipalities appealed the constitutionality of the state law to the Supreme Court. The Court struck down the Colorado law on the basis that it deprived the state's gays and lesbians from their right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for a 6-3 divided court, with Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas dissenting.

The story, originally reported by the Los Angeles Times yesterday, recounted Roberts role in helping a gay rights coalition, which was working to overturn the Colorado law, prepare their landmark case for oral argument before the Supreme Court. The Plaintiff's lead lawyer, Jean Dubofsky, sought the assistance of a conservative who could give her an "insider's road map" for what to expect from the Court's more conservative members according to the New York Times. Roberts spent about six hours of time helping Dubofsky prepare for the oral argument through the use of a moot court proceeding after he was requested to do so by one of his colleagues at his D.C. law firm of Hogan & Hartson. Roberts did not prepare the brief, participate in the argument or otherwise represent the plaintiffs in Romer v. Evans. Dubofsky said Roberts' assistance was most helpful.

Immediately upon hearing the news, supporters seized on this as evidence to suggest that Roberts is a fair and open-minded person who did not always tow the conservative line, just as they did with all the other little tid-bits the administration has been dropping into each news cycle to soften the public perception of Roberts. To the dismay of the administration, the news caught some on the Christian right off guard, raising new doubts in their minds about whether he will become another Souter as opposed to a Scalia or Thomas. Even Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves during his daily broadcast to question what Roberts was doing advocating for gay civil rights. Similarly, some gay rights supporters were too quick to read more into the news than is warranted.

The truth is that Roberts' partipation in Romer v. Evans is nothing more than a red herring. Roberts' former law partner at Hogan & Harton, David Leitch, put it all into perspective during an interview with Fox News' Jim Angle today. Leitch explained that it was common practice for experienced appellate lawyers like Roberts to provide free advice to new advocates before the Court as part of the appellate bar's effort to improve the quality of advocacy before the Court. Leitch estimated that Roberts, who himself has argued dozens of cases before the Court and worked at the Court as a clerk to Rehnquist, had assisted more than a hundred appellate court lawyers in preparing their cases for oral argument. Leitch said that Roberts' assistance of the plaintiffs in Romer v. Evans should not be interpreted as a statement of his support for the position advocated by gay rights' groups.

In Advance Indiana's first analysis of Roberts' nomination, Roberts' membership in the Federalist Society was cited, among other things, of Roberts' strong conservative leanings. Within a couple of days, the Administration began contacting every major news media outlet, all of whom had reported on Roberts' membership in the organization, to advise them that their reports were wrong and that Roberts had never been a member of the organization. Of course, evidence to the contrary soon appeared, including a statement from the organization's Vice President, Leonard Leo, who recalled his role in recruiting Roberts to serve on the organization's steering committee. Nonetheless, Roberts clinged to the position that he had never been a member, and that he had never paid any dues to the organization, even though the organization acknowledged that payment of membership dues was not compulsory to participation in the organization. The group obtains most of its funding from the generous support of conservative foundations.

Judge Roberts this week returned a 67-page questionnaire detailing all of the work he has done as an attorney, including the cases he's argued before the Supreme Court and all pro bono work he has performed. Nowhere in the 67-page questionnaire did Roberts disclose to the Senate any role he performed in the landmark Romer v. Evans case. On the other hand, Roberts went to the trouble of devoting an entire paragraph of his response explaining that he was not a member of the Federalist Society. He did, however, acknowledge that he had participated in several of the organization's events, including serving as a moderator for one event. Advance Indiana's editor, Gary R. Welsh, is a former member of the organization. He attended three events sponsored by the organization, at Harvard, D.C. and Indianapolis. At all three events, a Federalist Society member(s) served as moderator. It is simply deceptive and disingenuous for Roberts to continue to painstakingly deny his membership in the organization. Fully, one-third of all judicial appointees by President Bush are members of the organization. Justices Scalia and Thomas proudly associate themselves with the group. Roberts lack of candor to the public does not serve him well.

Roberts has already had to amend the 67-page questionnaire after it was learned that he failed to disclose his prior participation as a lobbyist. Roberts lobbied in 1991 on behalf of the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrances Association, involved an effort to stave off a regulatory change involving sunscreen. According to a news report on news, Roberts "suggested that he did not think of disclosing the information because the nature of the work — in which he met with lawyers at the federal Office of Management and Budget and the Food and Drug Administration— did not seem political." In a letter to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy Roberts said, "My conversations with the government attorneys were focused on the prospect of litigation. Consequently, the question about lobbying on the questionnaire did not trigger a memory of these meetings."

It's time for Roberts and the Administration to end this never-ending game of deception in which it is engaged to make the public believe what it wants us to believe about Roberts' record. Let Roberts speak in his own words and tell us how he feels about issues like abortion, state-church, gay rights and other issues of importance in today's Supreme Court jurisprudence. Advance Indiana for one is not going to be fooled by the tranparent efforts of Roberts, the administration and his supporters to manipulate public opinion.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

When Is A Public Official's Private Life A Public Matter?

Jeff Newman is an outspoken gay activist who serves as webmaster for Indiana’s largest GLBT web site,, and who publishes his views online at and Like many in the gay community he recently wrote about being dejected by the General Assembly’s passage this year of a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages and civil unions, the first in a two-step legislative process, and the defeat of an Indianapolis City-County Council resolution which would have prohibited discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of sexual orientation. Newman lamented that several state and local lawmakers who voted against the GLBT community on these critical issues are themselves closeted homosexuals. Newman also wondered aloud whether these lawmaker’s private lives should become public. He stopped short of outing any of the individuals in question, but the same question is being asked across the country and, in some instances, being acted upon.

One of the most highly publicized instances of outing involved the conservative Republican mayor of Spokane, Jim West. West, prior to his election as mayor, served for many years in the Washington legislature, rising to the top of the Republican leadership. Throughout his long political career, West was one of the most outspoken legislators in opposition to gay civil rights. The Spokane Spokesman Review conducted a three-year investigation of West’s private life which it ran on the front pages of its newspaper detailing West’s use of the mayor’s office to lure and entice young men he met on a chatroom and his alleged participation in sexually abusing young males while serving as a Boy Scout leader in the 1970s. The newspaper actually used a fictitious online participant to entrap West.

Media experts throughout the country debated the newspaper’s journalistic ethics in using this tactic to nail down its story. The paper’s editor, Steven A. Smith, defended its reporting on West, by emphasizing that it was not a “story about sexual orientation.” Smith responded to critics with the following: “This is a story about alleged sexual abuse of children and misuse of power and authority. Using the trappings of office to lure and groom young sex partners, barely of legal age, is the public’s business whether those potential partners are men or women. West is the city’s second strong mayor, a powerful political force, the face of our city whose secret life could open him to blackmail or extortion attempts and compromise his ability to do his job.”

One Washington state lawmaker wrote to New York Times ethicist, Randy Cohen, inquiring about whether it was appropriate for the media to report on the private lives of public officials as the Spokane newspaper had done. As to a public official’s sexual orientation, Cohen says it depends on whether it is germane to public policy-making. Cohen said, “[You] may ethically out an official only if that official’s being gay is germane to his policy-making.” Cohen added, “A person who seeks elected office, voluntarily entering the public arena, does surrender some claims to privacy. . . . identifying when this standard has been met is admittedly difficult.” Cohen’s guideline for when this standard has been met can be summed up as follows: "[T]he more aggressively, the more centrally, an official participates in a policy struggle, the more reasonable it is to out him."

Cohen believes there is a counter-argument in support of hypocrisy or at least its irrelevance: “[A] policy should stand on its merits, not on its advocate’s behavior.” But Cohen hastens to add, “That may be so in the dispassionate discourse of academe (at least idealized academe), but in the hurly-burly of political life, the human factor is meaningful and often invoked by politicians themselves—their military service, their religious observance.” Cohen concluded, “It is hypocrisy that more often inspires the urge to out; it is denying others the right to do what we ourselves do that provokes disdain.”

There are plenty of examples where a public official’s private live was worthy of public discussion applying Cohen’s standard. Former Democratic New Jersey Governor, Jim McGreevey, presented himself as a heterosexual man who was married with two young children. Although McGreevey’s public positions were not hostile to gays and lesbians, his sexual relationship with a male state employee was at odds with the way he portrayed himself to the people. More importantly, though, McGreevey used his political office to appoint his male lover, an Israeli national who was out of status, to an important post as the state’s homeland security director, and who later filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against McGreevey in his capacity as the state’s chief executive. Although McGreevey insisted the relationship was strictly consensual, his judgment and apparent hypocrisy were hard to overlook.

Locally, Congressman Dan Burton, a favorite of Eric Miller’s Advance America and Micah Clark’s American Family Association of Indiana, has long sold himself as a champion of family values. While it had been common knowledge around State House circles that the married father had fathered a child out-of-wedlock as the result of an illicit relationship with a State House secretary during his tenure as a state legislator, the Indiana news media shied away from reporting on Burton’s private life, which was obviously at odds with his public life. It was not until many years later as a member of Congress that the issue would surface during the height of the various investigations of former President Bill Clinton, one of which was being run by Burton. Not until Vanity Fair magazine report on the affair did Burton acknowledge he had an illegitimate son whom he had never met. Only then did local media cover Burton’s private life.

More recently, the issue surfaced again when local news media reported on an affair former State Senator Steve Johnson (R-Kokomo) had with a senate staffer. The publication of the news hit his wife, against whom he had recently instituted divorce proceedings, particularly hard. She ended her life in a violent one car accident after consuming a large quantity of alcohol. Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton came down hard on Johnson, even seeking his expulsion from the Senate. In the end, after publicized hearings, Garton stripped Johnson of his seniority and relegated him to the back-bencher status of a freshman legislator. Johnson was defeated by the voters in the next election.

During the investigation of Johnson, many stories began circulating about other legislators who had engaged in sexual relations with legislative staffers. Attention started to focus on a handful of legislators, including legislative leaders. The Indianapolis Star, in particular, was rumored to have engaged reporters to work on the story, focusing in particular on a high-ranking legislator who still serves in the legislature. In the end, the Indianapolis Star and other news media, under intense pressure, stopped short of going to print with their stories. Had the news been reported, suffice it to say that the make-up of the Indiana legislature would be quite different than it is today.

In relation to recent public actions taken in Indiana concerning the GLBT community, Jeff Newman asks an important question: “[W]hy gay Indiana state and city lawmakers would vote to the detriment of their own community?” Newman asks, “Are they self-loathing queers who believe that they and their GLBT brothers and sisters are not deserving of anything more than second-class citizenship?” That is exactly what former President Bill Clinton thinks. Clinton said that he believed Republican political consultant, Arthur Finkelstein, was “blinded by self-loathing” after hearing that the previously closeted homosexual had married his gay male lover in a ceremony in Massachusetts recently according to the New York Times. Finkelstein has made a career out of helping elect conservative candidates to office, such as North Carolina’s former Senator Jesse Helms, who opposed gay civil rights and often engaged in gay-baiting for political advantage.

Newman, alternatively, asks whether these closeted legislators are “hypocrites whose concern for their own political asses is much greater than their concern for their community?” Newman thinks the latter is probably the right answer. So is Newman going to name these closeted public officials? Newman’s answer is “not likely.” Newman says his position “has nothing to do with any moral issue I have with outing people.” Newman continued: “I do believe that coming out is an intensely personal decision, but as far as I'm concerned, public figures who choose to be hypocrites do so at their own peril. The reason I'm not likely to name names is I just don't want the hassle. Any of these folks can vehemently deny their gayness, and how could I prove otherwise? I'm sure not going to follow these idiots around with a camera waiting for them to step out.”

But Newman has a warning to these closeted lawmakers: “[I]f I were these legislators and was planning to vote the same in round two, I would be pretty damned nervous. They are facing an increasingly angry GLBT community whose tolerance for hypocrisy is at an all-time low.” Advance Indiana echoes Newman’s comments. These closeted hypocrites had better not count on getting a free ride much longer. Journalistic standards support making their private lives public if they choose to participate in the Christian right's efforts to demonize gays and lesbians and deny fundamental rights to gays and lesbians enjoyed by all other Americans. But the warning should not be limited to closeted public officials who act hypocritically. The same standard should apply to heterosexual lawmakers who profess to "support the sanctity of marriage" by opposing gay marriages, while engaging in extra-marital affairs themselves. They can't expect a free ride either.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Brizzi Intends to Propose Hate Crimes Legislation

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has had a change of heart about hate crime laws which increase penalties for crimes committed against a person or property out of hatred towards a person's race, religion, sexual orientation and other bias motivations. Brizzi recently told the Indiana Lawyer that he "used to think that there was no real difference between a crime that was motivated by racial hatred and a crime motivated by greed or any other kind of motivation . . . [i]f you get hit by a stick it hurts the same." But Brizzi said his views changed as he considered the facts in various cases the Indiana Lawyer reported.

Brizzi told the Indiana Lawyer that hate crimes "have implications that go beyond the individual victim . . . [w]hile the victim will feel individual pain, the implications of that crime are shared by society at large." Brizzi told the Indiana Lawyer, that while his office didn't have statistics available on hate-related crimes his office has prosecuted, he maintained that they are out there. Brizzi said those cases included incidents "where people have been beaten up at bars because of their perceived sexual orientation." Brizzi now intends to propose a state hate crimes law during the 2006 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

The FBI is required to collect data and report annually statistics on bias motivated crimes, including race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and disability. According to the most recent statistics compiled by the FBI for 2003, crimes motivated by a person's sexual orientation constituted the third highest category of reported bias crimes. Out of the 7,489 bias crimes reported in 2003, 1,239 or 16.5% were committed because of a person's sexual orientation, the vast majority of which were committed against male homosexuals. While Indiana does not have a hate crimes law, the Indiana State Police is required by law to collect data on bias crimes, including those motivated by a person's sexual orientation. According to State Police records for 2004, there were a total of 67 incidents of bias crimes committed in 2004, of which a person's sexual orientation constituted the second highest category. Of the reported incidents, 17 or 25% were motivated by a person's sexual orientation, significantly higher than the national average.

According to data compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, Indiana is one of just 4 states without any hate crimes law, joining Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming for this discomforthing distinction. The same data shows that 35 states have hate crime laws covering sexual orientation and/or gender identity, while another17 states have hate crime laws not covering sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of the states in the latter category are either southern or western mountain states.

Indiana finds itself in a class of states with a history of racial and gay bigotry. Many states without hate crime laws were motivated to enact them after the brutal beating death of 21-year old Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, which the offenders admitted to committing because of Shepard's sexual orientation, but not Wyoming or Indiana. Past attempts to pass a hate crimes law in Indiana have been thwarted by Christian fundamentalists represented by groups such as Eric Miller's Advance America, who argue that "special rights" are conferred upon such protected classes when hate crimes are enacted.

It is a courageous move on Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's part to publicly support a hate crimes law. He has already shown courage by enacting a non-discrimination policy for his own office similar to policies adopted for the State's and City of Indianapolis' workers by Governor Mitch Daniels and Mayor Peterson, respectively. Governor Daniels' has been the target of a hate-filled, lying campaign by the Christian right because of the enactment of his policy, and the State's GOP has made no effort to defend his policy. At the same time, Murphy's Law, as handed down by Marion County GOP chairman, Mike Murphy, instructs all Republican council members on the Indianapolis city-county council to vote against any proposal which would make it illegal to discriminate against persons in employment and housing on the basis of their sexual orientation and identity. If past is prologue, the Republican prosecutor can't count on much support within his own party for his proposal, but then again things might take a change for the better in the Republican Party. Let's hope.