Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bush To Let Christian Right Name Next Supreme Court Justice

A late evening story to run in tomorrow’s edition of the Washington Post reports that President Bush has deferred to the Christian right in making his next choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. According to the Post report, Bush is likely to name federal appeals court judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., but he could also select either J. Michael Luttig or Alice M. Batchelder, both federal appeals court judges.

As Bush met with his closest aides this weekend, including White House counsel Harriet Miers who withdrew her name from consideration this week, he reached out to conservative groups for support for the leading contenders. One group consulted, according to the Post, is the extremist religious group, Concerned Women for America, whose opposition to Miers contributed to the decision to withdraw her nomination. The Post reported: “Janet M. LaRue, the group's chief counsel, said it received a call from the White House on Saturday and liked what it heard. ‘Alito and Luttig have always been at the top of our list,’ she said in an interview. ‘We think either of them would be a supreme pick. There isn't a thing stealthy about them. They've got a long, proven record of constitutional conservatism.’"

The Post description of the likely choice, Alito, left little to wonder as to why the Christian right likes him. The Post said of him: “Alito, 55, studied at Princeton and Yale, and has sat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, based in Philadelphia, since 1990. Nicknamed "Scalito" by some who compare him to Scalia, the high court's prime conservative intellectual force, Alito has built a record as an incisive skeptic of liberal constitutional theory. He voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law that required a woman to notify her husband before an abortion -- a law rejected by the Supreme Court -- and wrote a decision upholding a city holiday display that included a creche and menorah as well as secular symbols.”

If Bush names one of the three candidates mentioned today in the Post article, Senator Harry Reid and Senator Charles Schumer hinted that the filibuster option may come into play. Reid has this warning for Bush: "I think this time he would be ill-advised to do that. But the right wing, the radical right wing, is pushing a lot of his buttons, and he may just go along with them."

Clark's Gay Bigotry Provokes Response From Star Readers

A week after the Indianapolis Star gave guest columnist status to Christian extremist Micah Clark to spew gay bigotry in response to Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's non-discrimination policy, the paper devoted an entire page to reader's letters defending Brizzi and blasting Clark. While the letters each raised different aspects of Clark's rambling column, they each concurred that Clark was promoting bigotry against gays.

The Star also afforded Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jon Keep guest column status to respond to Clark's column entitled "Painting a skewed picture of gays." Keep sought to refute Clark's claim that, on the whole, gays are more educated and have higher incomes than the average American. He likened Clark's use of the economic status of gays to the "historic practice [of anti-semites] of describing Jewish citizens in the same terms." Keep noted that the surveys relied upon by Clark are suspect. Keep said, "A total lack of protection in the face of discrimination leads gays and lesbians of lower economic status and less educational leverage to stay in the closet and avoid identifying themselves to survey takers, significantly skewing results."

Noticeably absent from the defense of Brizzi's anti-discrimination policy was a supportive response from any leaders from within the Republican Party, despite local efforts to secure such a response. Marion County Republican Chairman Mike Murphy and other local Republican leaders' lack of support for Brizzi's policy can only be interpreted as an endorsement of Clark's bigoted views. Their embracement of such extremist views insures future electoral defeat and minority party status for many years to come.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Alaska High Court Finds Opposite Sex Benefits for Public Employees Unconstitutional

The Alaska Supreme Court has issued a sweeping decision based upon the state’s equal protection clause, ruling that it was unconstitutional for the state and local governments to offer employees who were married to a person of the opposite sex benefits to their spouses, such as health insurance, without extending the same benefits to employees who had same sex partners. The decision, Alaska Civil Liberties Union v. Alaska, is particularly striking because Alaska voters in 1998 enacted a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to opposite sex couples.

Alaska’s equal protection clause provides “that all persons are equal and entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law.” As a threshold matter, the court had to consider whether the State’s Marriage Amendment trumped the equal protection clause in this case. Alaska’s high court held that the constitutional ban on gay marriages did not preclude gay couples from the right to be equally treated with respect to employment benefits. The court said, “The Marriage Amendment effectively precludes same-sex couples from marrying in Alaska, but it does not explicitly or implicitly prohibit public employers from offering to their employees’ same-sex domestic partners all benefits that they offer to their employees’ spouses. It does not address the topic of employment benefits at all.” Indiana’s proposed constitutional ban on gay marriages is more broadly written than the Alaska Marriage Amendment to include benefits.

In determining whether the denial of same sex benefits violated the state’s equal protection clause, the court applied the lowest level of scrutiny standard, which required the plaintiffs to demonstrate that the challenged law treated similarly situated persons differently. The plaintiffs contended that the benefits programs discriminated between same sex couples and opposite sex couples, while the defendants urged that their benefits programs differentiated between marital status and not sexual orientation. Most courts reviewing these cases have agreed with the latter view.

But the Alaska court found that because same sex couples were legally barred from marrying in order to receive the added health benefits, it found that they are treated differently than the similarly situated class of opposite sex couples. As such, it was facially discriminatory. The court said, “When a ‘law by its own terms classifies persons for different treatment,’ this is known as a facial classification. And when a law is discriminatory on its face, ‘the question of discriminatory intent is subsumed by the determination that the classification established by the terms of the challenged law or policy is, itself, discriminatory.’”

Having determined that the law was facially discriminatory, the court then applied a three-part sliding scale analysis to determine the equal protection claims using the lowest level of scrutiny, which took into consideration the following: 1) the state’s interest in impairing the constitutional interest; 2) the purposes survived by the challenged law and 3) the state’s interest in furthering the goals undertaken by the law. The state argued that its interest in limiting benefits to opposite sex couples included, controlling cost of its benefit programs, administrative efficiency and promoting traditional marriage. While the court agreed that “[t]he governmental interests of cost control, administrative efficiency, and promotion of marriage [were] legitimate, . . . [it held that] the absolute denial of benefits to public employees with same-sex domestic partners [was] not substantially related to these governmental interests.”

As a consequence of this decision, proponents of marriage amendments will be emboldened to include the broader language encompassed by amendments adopted by such states as Ohio and is proposed in Indiana. Unlike the Alaska Marriage Amendment, which simply defined marriage as between one man and one woman, Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment includes this additional language: “This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” Arguably, this added language would foreclose a similar challenge in Indiana as brought in Alaska based upon the state’s equal protection clause, if Indiana’s proposed constitutional ban on gay marriages is adopted.

Senator Miller A No Show At Indiana's Witch Hunt

Senator Pat Miller was a no-show at Irvington’s annual Halloween fest today, an event she co-sponsors every year. Rock Indiana’s Pepper Partin staged her “Indiana’s Witch Hunt” protest at the Irvington Fest today to educate voters in Miller’s district about the radical religious agenda Miller has been pursuing as the area’s state senator, a post she has held for more than 20 years. Rock Indiana is urging Miller’s constituents to vote her out of office in the next election.

Partin and a handful of friendly supporters peacefully held up signs and distributed literature explaining “Indiana’s Witch Hunt.” Partin was disappointed that several Irvington area businesses had expressed disapproval of Rock Indiana’s protest during pre-media coverage of the event. Unfounded rumors that the event would be marred for families and small children because of a homosexual presence, and that the protest might be something other than peaceful, also disappointed Partin. But she was extremely pleased by the response she received from many passer-bys at the fest. With few exceptions, Partin’s protest was well-received by Miller’s constituents, many of whom were unfamiliar with her views.

The literature distributed by Rock Indiana compared the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials of the late 1600s, which Rock Indiana asserts were based on “ignorance, fear and Puritan Christianity.” The group said: “Today a similar but more subdued hysteria is sweeping Indiana. Many legislators want Hoosiers to believe that at the heart of the state’s ills is moral deviancy such as premarital sex, serial marriage, same sex unions and unmarried persons seeking to artificially conceive children. Legislators such as Senator Miller propose and vote in favor of primitive, unconstitutional legislation that discriminates against people who do not share her beliefs. Like Salem’s hysteria, fear, ignorance and zealotry are at the heart of this modern day witch hunt.”

Rock Indiana gave several examples of Miller’s religious zealotry to her constituents, including:

  • Her sponsorship of an “Orwellian authorized reproduction bill” that would make it illegal for unmarried persons to artificially conceive a child;

  • Her work as Executive Director of the United Methodist Church’s radical “Confessing Movement” sect;

  • Her votes for Indiana’s Defense of Marriage Act and constitutional amendment, both of which prohibit same sex marriages; and

  • Her sponsorship of legislation to deny unmarried couples domestic partner benefits.
Rock Indiana also gives us a sampling of some quotes from Senator Miller while discussing her religious legislative agenda:

  • “To begin with, marriage is between one man and one woman and anything else is not acceptable. This just reinforces that these relationships are not appropriate.”

  • “We did want to address the issue of whether or not the law should allow should allow single people to be parents.”

  • “I think we do a disservice when we say, “Sin’s okay. You do whatever you want.”

  • “Yes, Yes, I do [believe marriage should be a requirement for motherhood].”

  • “I am not a religious zealot.”

Despite Miller’s protest that she is not a religious zealot, Rock Indiana does draw attention to her full-time participation as executive director of the Confessing Movement sect of the United Methodist Church, a fundamentalist movement within the church to squelch the “reigning virtue of tolerance” as Rock Indiana describes it. At the heart of the Confessing Movement is an effort to reject the church’s acceptance of homosexuality, which the sect declares is “incompatible with Christian teaching." Miller’s sect compares homosexuality to idolatry. According to Miller’s sect, “just as idolatry brings dishonor to God, so homosexual behavior brings dishonor to the body created for the union of male and female in marriage.”

The Confessing Movement holds fast to the tenets of “fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness.” It is determined to block any recognition of same sex unions by the church, and has challenged the church to enforce fundamentalist Christian doctrine on matters of sex and marriage. In the past, the group has unsuccessfully sought to conduct a form of a inquisition against clergy within the church who fail to uphold traditional church doctrine on matters such as homosexuality and marriage and are promoting a “pro-gay agenda”.

Miller’s deep involvement in the Confessing Movement has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. If you look at the core mission of the Confessing Movement, you quickly learn that Miller is pursing a radical religious agenda through the legislative process to enforce Christian fundamentalist doctrine she has so far not succeeded in imposing on her own church. Yes, she is legislating her views of morality and religion. And yes, she is a religious zealot.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Rove Not Out Of The Woods

Karl Rove’s public relations machine was hard at work last night tipping the media to the fact that Rove would not be indicted today in connection with the CIA leak case, along with Vice Presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby. Rove is far from being cleared from any wrongdoing. In fact, if past is prologue, the indictment handed down today by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald against Libby contains an ominous sign that Rove will eventually be charged as well.

A review of the 22-page, 5-count indictment against Libby reveals an un-named “Official A” as tipping off Libby that Novak planned to write a story about Joe Wilson’s wife. Specifically, paragraph 21 states: “On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, Libby spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised Libby of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. Libby was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.”

“Official A” is unmistakably Karl Rove based on previous news reports. The AP reports: "Columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's name and her CIA status on July 14, 2003. That was five days after Novak talked to Rove and eight days after Plame's husband, former ambassador Wilson, published an opinion article in the Times accusing the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq." The date specified in the indictment that Official A spoke to Novak is consistent with the date the AP and other news sources reported that Novak and Rove spoke.

So what’s the significance of Rove being identified as “Official A?” Advance Indiana previously reported on a tact often used by Fitzgerald in highly publicized public corruption cases in Illinois to identify an ultimate target of his investigation in an earlier indictment of a lesser player. In our earlier post on October 18, 2005, entitled “Could A Third Rate Leak Bring Down Bush (If Not Cheney)?”, we wrote: “If history is any guide, here is what to watch for with Fitzgerald. It is highly unlikely that he would announce an indictment out of the shoot against a very high ranking official such as Vice President Cheney or President Bush. Instead, he will target an immediate underling to his ultimate target that he has a solid case against. The indictment charge will refer to the ultimate target as “Public Official A” or “Public Official B.” Persons familiar with the case will have no trouble discerning who the prosecutor is ultimately targeting with his investigation.”

It is interesting to note that the Libby indictment specifically names Vice President Cheney as the source from whom Libby learned of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA officer who was working in the counter-proliferation division. Why refer to Cheney by name in the indictment but not Rove? Cheney is most likely not a target of the investigation, at least for now, as is Rove. The evidence laid out in the indictment appears on its face to be very compelling. Fitzgerald’s evidence against Rove may not be as strong as the evidence against Libby, at least yet.

Fitzgerald’s indictment of Libby will give him plenty of leverage to use to obtain indictments against Rove or others who the prosecutor believes have committed crimes. Libby’s charges for obstruction of justice, false statements and perjury are serious charges carrying severe penalties. If convicted, Libby faces up to 30 years in prison and fines in excess of $1 million. Fitzgerald may offer a deal to Libby if he gives up additional information about other targets, such as Rove. It is hard to imagine Libby taking a chance on a conviction when faced with the prospect of spending the better part of the remainder of his life in prison.

Fitzgerald has made clear that this is not the conclusion of his investigation. Rove and others in the White House are feeling no better today than they were yesterday.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Irsay's DUI Woes

The Indianapolis Star gives up Nancy Irsay’s witness list for her drunken driving and public intoxication charges from more than two years ago. It includes such luminaries as Judy O’Bannon, Howard Caldwell, Jean Bepko and Patricia Rooney. Irsay is defending charges she sped through the intersection of 38th and Illinois Streets at 70 mph, causing her Porsche Carrera GT to go airborne. She was returning home from the Indiana Historical Society’s Living Legends Gala the night of her 1:30 a.m. arrest. She behaved like any multi-millionaire widow at the social function her witnesses will testify.

Advance Indiana editor, Gary R. Welsh, has a good idea what drove Irsay to speed like she did that night. While returning home from a friend’s new home on the canal that same night, he encountered, well, quite a traffic jam. It seemed that a midnight bike ride was making its way from the Velodrome to downtown and back. The streets were all blocked for the bikers for what seemed like hours. As the two passengers in Welsh’s car can attest, there wasn’t a foul word that didn’t make it out of his mouth as he sat helplessly waiting for the bike ride to conclude. He suspects that Irsay’s patience waiting for the bikers had worn just as thin as his. So when the last bike finally passed, she did what anyone in her Manolo Blahnik shoes would have done, she gunned it. And boy do those Porsche’s have good pick up.

Christian Right Order to Withdraw Miers Duly Noted

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court. The Christian right has proven that it has veto authority over who sits on our highest court. It is not enough that she faithfully attended a Christian church throughout her life. She did not fit the stereotype expectation as a 60-year old unmarried woman. And because of that, she never had a chance with these narrow-minded bigots. How sad. Bush is weak and getting weaker. Had he only had the courage to fire Karl Rove two years ago after he learned of his role in the CIA leak case, he would not find himself in the perilous situation his presidency finds itself today.

One-Fifth of Congressional Tax Panel Are Tax Cheats

The Hill reports that as many as one-fifth of the members of Congress who sit on the House Ways & Means Committee, which is responsible for writing our federal tax laws, are tax cheats. That’s right. At least eight members of the 41-member panel erroneously claimed a homestead exemption on their D.C. residences. The homestead exemption, which saved the lawmakers thousands of dollars in property taxes each year, may only be claimed on a taxpayer’s primary residence. Because the lawmakers primary residence is in the home state districts they represent, they cannot claim the exemption for both their district and D.C. residences.

Who are the tax cheats? According to the Hill report, they include: Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), Rep. John Linder (R-GA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. John Tanner (R-TN) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). The Hill also reported that as many as a dozen other members of Congress were also likely receiving the tax break unlawfully.

The Hill undertook the investigation of individual lawmakers with D.C. residence after the Washington Post earlier this year disclosed that Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove had claimed a homestead exemption for his D.C. home even though he claimed a primary residence in Texas. Also, an earlier report by the Kansas City Star found that at least 22 senators, or more than one-fifth of the Senate, had benefited from claiming the tax deduction on their D.C. residences.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Miers: Don't Legislate Religion or Morality

A story in today’s Washington Post reports that in a speech to a Dallas women’s group in 1993, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said she believed in “self-determination” in controversial issues, such as abortion and school prayer, rather than governmental action. While this is welcome news for civil libertarians, it is likely to stir even more opposition to her nomination from the Christian right and other conservatives within the Republican Party.

The Post described Miers’ views as being libertarian. Here’s a sample of the comments she made to Executive Women of Dallas: "The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion . . . Those seeking to resolve such disputes would do well to remember that ‘we gave up’ a long time ago on ‘legislating religion or morality,’ she said. And ‘when science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act . . . The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination . . . And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense."

The comments she made during this speech is one of the first reports to provide us an insight into the spoken personal views of Harriet Miers on matters of civil liberties. Advance Indiana likes what it hears. But the right wing nuts’ ears are most certainly burning. You can read the full text of her speech here. It really reveals her common sense approach to the law, which is very refreshing and badly needed on our Supreme Court.

KKK Joins Christian Right in Texas Gay Marriage Ban Push

The Drudge Report picks up on a Houston TV station report that the Ku Klux Klan is coming out of the closet to rally in support of Texas’ November 8 ballot proposition to amend its state constitution to ban same sex marriages. The rally is planned on the steps of Austin’s city hall steps this Saturday.

It seems the Christian right activists pushing for the gay marriage ban aren't all too happy about the KKK’s support for the amendment. Pastor Ryan Rush of Bannockburn Baptist Church told the Houston TV station that “a group that would come in that is characterized as hateful and bigoted is not welcome in this city.”

Well, Pastor Rush, is there not something hateful and bigoted about what you’re doing? People who live in glass houses . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Funeral Sanctity for Veterans; Nothing For Fags

Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) plans to introduce legislation during next year’s session he calls the “funeral sanctity bill”, which will make it a felony to stage a protest at a military funeral WISH-TV reports. Senator Steele decided to introduce the bill after extremist followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas brought their anti-gay message to the funeral of a Martinsville soldier, Sgt. Jeremy Dole, who was killed in Iraq. Phelps group, which has staged anti-gay protests for many years, recently turned their focus on military funerals. Phelps and his followers attribute America’s war dead as a punishment from God for the country’s failure to oppose homosexuality.

Senator Steele told WISH-TV: “These families need to be protected. They're fighting words and somebody's gonna get hurt at a funeral someday. If it'd been my kid they would have got their wish. If they wanted a reaction they would have gotten it.” Senator Steele is introducing his bill at the urging of veterans in his district. According to the report, a spokesman for Phelps predicted that Steele’s proposal, if enacted, would not stand up in court. Such a law would be highly susceptible to legal challenge on both free speech and equal protection grounds.

The anti-gay protests of the Rev. Phelps and his ilk are not at all new to Indiana. They have been present at many large gatherings in Indianapolis, most notably the 500 festival parade on Memorial Day weekend. Advance Indiana reported on a similar protest conducted in Corydon this past summer which was equally as ugly as the protest at the Martinsville funeral. Senator Steele believes action is necessary to support the families of our fallen soldiers from these ugly protests, but he offers no support for protecting the gay persons at whom these ugly protests are directed and against whom hate crimes, which are often fueled by bigoted persons like Phelps, are committed. Remarkably, Senator Steele has no words of condemnation for Phelps’ anti-gay message.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has announced his intentions to propose legislation next year to impose tougher penalties on persons who commit crimes against a person or property because of race, religion, sexual orientation and other bias motivations. Indiana, embarrassingly, is just one of four states without such a hate crime law. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Justice Department, the percentage of hate crimes committed against persons because of their sexual orientation is significantly higher in Indiana than the national average. If Senator Steele’s past voting record is any indication, don’t count on him to support Brizzi’s bill. Brizzi’s proposal will actually combat hate crimes. But Steele isn't interested in combating hate crimes. He’d rather issue press releases to pander to veterans groups, while turning a blind eye to the hate-filled bigotry Indiana’s gay and lesbian citizens face every day.

The Chilling Sound of Silence From The Indiana Republican Party

The sound of silence can be very chilling. Last April after Governor Mitch Daniels enacted an EEO policy of non-discrimination for state employees, which included sexual orientation and gender identity, the Christian right launched a major assault against his policy. Not one single Republican leader in the State of Indiana defended Governor Daniels’ policy publicly.  Daniels recently capitulated to the Christian right by coming out against federal, state and local civil right laws of general applicability to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination—saying private businesses should be left alone to decide for themselves.

The reaction from the GLBT community to Daniels’ apparent “change of heart” was met with disappointment, although most were not surprised. One well-known gay defender of Daniels actually blamed the GLBT community, in part, for Daniels’ capitulation, for failing to rally enough support for the Governor’s policy to counter the attacks from the Christian right.

Now that Marion County Republican Prosecutor Carl Brizzi’s non-discrimination policy for his office, which includes sexual orientation, has become known, the Christian right is once again ratcheting up the attacks against him. And again, not one single Republican leader in Marion County has stood up to defend Brizzi’s policy.

Advance Indiana wants to know: Is there one brave Republican leader anywhere in the State of Indiana who is willing to stand up and support Governor Daniels’ and Prosecutor Brizzi’s policies of non-discrimination towards gays and lesbians? I can’t hear you? Are you there? Hello? The sound of silence is indeed very chilling.

Rosa Parks: Sitting Down To Stand Up

Rosa Parks died at the age of 92 nearly 50 years after she sat down to stand up. A poor African-American woman living in Montgomery, Alabama, who eked out a living as a seamstress, could no longer accept the Jim Crow laws of the South that separated whites from blacks in public accommodations, public schools and just about every other aspect of life. When she boarded a Montgomery bus in December, 1955, sat down at the front of the bus and was asked by a white man to give up her seat to him as local law required, she refused him. Her act of civil disobedience landed her in jail and earned her a fine of $14.

Little did she know at the time what her single act of courage would do for the cause of civil rights. A young, little known minister, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was inspired by her actions to organize boycotts of Montgomery’s buses, which was the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. She became known as the “mother of civil rights.”

Rosa Parks did what she did because she truly believed it was the right thing to do. She wasn’t motivated by fame or money. This simple, modest but courageous woman believed that basic human dignity for African-Americans was worth standing up for. That type of sentiment is missing today. In sharp contrast, the civil rights leaders of today are all about big business—it’s all about the power, money and fame that comes with the territory. They are motivated by all the wrong things.

At a celebration in her honor in 1988, Rosa Parks spoke of her legacy: "I am leaving this legacy to all of you ... to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die-- the dream of freedom and peace." In her memory, we should never forget those words.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Novak Gave Up Sources Early On to Avoid Fight

It has always been a bit of a mystery why Robert Novak, the only reporter who actually penned a column outing covered CIA agent Valerie Plame never became entangled with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a dispute over revealing the "two high ranking administration officials" from whom he obtained his information. Other reporters were threatened with jail for contempt for refusing to reveal their sources for stories they never wrote until a court-ordered appeal to the Supreme Court was denied, and only then did they testify with the consent of their sources. New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent several months in jail for contempt until her source, Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby gave her an unequivocal, written waiver. Novak, by comparison, went ahead and revealed Plame's identity even after being warned against it by a CIA public officer.

Today, the Washington Post removes a bit of this mystery when it attributes Novak's early cooperation with the prosecutor to the investigation's success. The Post said: "A critical early success for Fitzgerald was winning the cooperation of Robert D. Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist who named Plame in a July 2003 story and attributed key information to "two senior administration officials." Legal sources said Novak avoided a fight and quietly helped the special counsel's inquiry, although neither the columnist nor his attorney have said so publicly."

There is a bit of irony in Novak, as a conservative-Pro Bush commentator, bearing responsibility for a scandal that may prove irreparably damaging to the administration, all because of Novak's zeal to aid the administration in discrediting Bush critic and husband of Plame, Ambassador Joe Wilson. He almost assuredly has ended the careers of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the Bush White House. Of course, a lot of folks on the left probably won't fault him for that. But given his distinctly pro-Bush sentiments, he may have a difficult time living with the consequences of his own actions.

Star Gives Clark Podium For Promoting Gay Bigotry

Today’s Indianapolis Star gives guest column status to Christian right extremist Micah Clark to spew hateful and mean-spirited bigotry directed at the GLBT community in response to Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi’s anti-discrimination policy towards gays and lesbians as he had promised to do in an e-mail to his followers, which Advance Indiana reported on last Wednesday. Using rhetoric that would rival the words of white separatist David Duke, Clark decried Brizzi’s policy against discrimination as a policy “which elevates a hazardous sexual behavior to the moral and legal equivalent of benign genetic traits like race or skin color.”

Clark criticizes Brizzi for becoming just “another willing accomplice” in the effort of “homosexual activists . . . to get the term ‘sexual orientation’ added to protected categories under anti-discrimination codes.” Clark said, “Slowly but surely homosexual activists are trying to create a new civil rights class based on private sexual behavior.” Clark continued, “The Supreme Court has already established the parameters for such special rights classifications and homosexuality doesn’t fit.” Not to rain on Clark’s anti-gay parade, but the Supreme Court has actually said quite the opposite.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that "moral disapproval" of a person's sexual orientation cannot be a legal basis for discriminating against a person, and that laws that protect gays from discrimination do not provide "special rights" as asserted by Clark. In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado state law that prohibited local governments from enacting non-discrimination policies for homosexuals just as Carl Brizzi has done for the employees of his office. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy said: " . . [W]e cannot accept the view that [the Colorado law's] prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint. They can obtain specific protection against discrimination only by [ ] enlisting the citizenry of Colorado to amend the state constitution or perhaps, on the State's view, by trying to pass helpful laws of general applicability. This is so no matter how local or discrete the harm, no matter how public and widespread the injury. We find nothing special in the protections [the Colorado law] withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society."

In addition to the obvious factual discrepancies, Clark’s rantings are replete with contradictions. Clark cites evidence of a gays and lesbians being economically advantaged in comparison to other minority groups because, on average, they are better educated and earn more income, as evidence they are not discriminated against. Yet, he says, “Adding . . . sexual practices to civil rights codes can infringe upon the rights of others, most noticeably employers, other employees, and private organizations that have a moral or religious opposition to homosexual behavior.” In his own words, Clark is openly admitting that some employers do currently discriminate against gays and lesbians because of their moral disapproval of them.

Clark also complains that such policies require employers “to pry into someone’s personal life.” Clark rhetorically asks, “How would one know otherwise with which gender an employee is sexually involved?” For many victims of such discrimination, merely failing to act in conformity with the “straight” stereotype of how a man or woman should talk, dress or act is enough to label someone a homosexual to be singled out for discrimination. And Clark noticeably mentions only “race or skin color” in reference to our existing civil rights laws. Those laws also protect a person from discrimination of a person based on their religion. How does an employer know an employee is Jewish, Catholic or atheistic without prying into the employee’s personal life? But you don’t hear him complaining about that important civil rights protection.

Clark also fails to mention civil rights protection in current laws based on a person’s sex. The Christian right and other fundamentalist religions have long promoted legal discrimination of women because of their gender. When “sex” was originally added to the civil rights laws, people with Clark’views similarly argued that forcing employers to treat women equally infringed upon their religious opposition to providing equality to women, who they believed held an inferior position to men in society.

Instead, Clark labors to label such policies of non-discrimination of gays and lesbians as creating a “special right.” If it is indeed a special right, then it is a special right that he too has been provided by his logic. The protection of his male gender status protects him from discrimination by a supervisor of the opposite gender. And the right to practice the religion of his choice is also a “special right.” But you don’t hear Clark complaining about his special rights.

As hateful and bigoted as Clark’s views are, the upside is that they can only aid the GLBT community in its efforts to pass the Human Rights Ordinance adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Indianapolis’ civil rights law. Clark’s views are clearly not shared by the vast majority of fair-minded and liberty loving Hoosiers. The Republican Party should move as quickly as possible to disassociate itself from the views of Clark to avoid causing further damage he and others have already inflicted on the party by openly expressing gay bigotry.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Embarrass Party

While much local attention in Indiana has been given recently to the embarrassing extent to which state and local Republicans have injected fundamentalist Christian concepts into legislation and government policy, the Republican Party in Illinois is experiencing a little dose of the same embarrassment in its crowded field of candidates vying to face off against the corruption-plagued, first term Democrat Governor Rod Blagoyevich.

Illinois Republicans held the governor’s office for 26 consecutive years with moderates Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan. Republicans lost the office in 2002 after wide-spread corruption during Ryan’s term in office as Governor and prior to that as Secretary of State drove him from office. A conservative, pro-life Attorney General Jim Ryan (no relation to George Ryan) was no match at the time for then Congressman Blagoyevich, who promised to clean up state government. After failing miserably on his promise to clean up state government, Republicans hoped to lure former Governor Jim Edgar back into politics for another run for the state’s highest office. But Edgar begged off another run a couple of weeks ago, leaving the field wide open to several lesser known and mostly conservative candidates.

Last Thursday, Springfield Journal-Register columnist Bernie Schoenburg reported on comments one of the GOP candidates, State Senator Bill Brady, had made during a live radio interview on the issue of intelligent design. At the outset of his column, Schoenburg noted that there was a hint that Brady was not going to be shy about invoking religion in his campaign because he began his campaign announcement with a prayer by a local clergyman. During the radio interview, Brady was asked what he though about intelligent design being taught alongside other scientific theories in our public schools. He responded: “I think we should teach the Bible in our schools . . . One of the basic, fundamental voids we have in our school system is bringing God into the system.” When asked if he would teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution, Brady said, “I think we should teach everything that educates our children, and I think bringing God and the Bible into that is critically important.”

Schoenburg later followed up the radio show with his own interview of Brady to learn more on an issue Brady appeared to feel strongly about. While Brady thought the ultimate decision should be left to local school boards, he told Schoenburg: "I don’t think there should be a prohibition against them teaching the historical significance of the Bible or any religion. …I believe in school prayer. I believe in the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe there ought to be the freedom for local school boards to make those decisions.” Asked if the biblical story should be taught as an alternative to evolution in science, Brady said, “The Bible is the single largest-selling book in the history of the world. … It’s historical value or interpretation I think should be left up to local school boards. I mean, I certainly believe that local school boards should have the opportunity to teach kids about the Bible, just as they ought to be able to teach them about the Koran.”

Schoenburg, who is Jewish, asked Brady if the implementation of his views in public schools might not isolate kids of a different religious belief than the [Christian] majority. “Whatever the local school board wants to do,” Brady said. “I think the school board should … understand the delicacy of that.” He said it’s just like saying the Pledge of Allegiance, with God’s name included. “The founding fathers of this country believed that God was the foundation of all freedom,” Brady said. “That’s the difference between this country and many. We get our power and freedom from God and give it to the government. Some places believe it’s the government that gives it to us.”

Schoenburg surveyed the other announced GOP candidates, including Steve Rauchenburger, Jim Oberweis and Ron Gidwitz, about their views on intelligent design. While they did not speak out as strongly as Brady did, they were very deferential to the notion of leaving it up to local school boards to decide whether intelligent design should be taught alongside scientific theories, such as evolution.

After reading Schoenburg’s column, State House political reporter Rich Miller, who operates Illinois’ most popular political blog site, The Capitol Fax Blog, provided the quotes from Schoenburg’s column with the lead-in “Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady thinks that God needs to be brought into our school systems.” He then asked his readers to respond about how this will play with the Illinois electorate. As of this posting 90 visitors had posted their views on Brady’s statements, the vast majority of which were highly negative. A sampling of some of those views include:

  • Thank God that we were blessed enough to have had the Warren Court to prevent kooks like this from actually implementing what they say.
  • Wow, I can't believe it, but Rod Blagojevich is going to win a second term as governor.
  • I almost think the Republicans are trying to lose in Illinois. It makes me proud to be living in Senator Bill "I am almost as crazy as the Milk Man" Brady's district.
  • So much for Brady being a "non-scary" conservative.
  • What Rep. Brady and the GOP field are suggesting is that a school board should be able to decide what their version of God is and put it into our children's lives.
  • When we start teaching French in Spanish class, then we can start teaching "intelligent design" in biology class.

The views expressed by Miller’s visitors should come as no surprise, given the history of moderate politics practiced by both parties in Illinois. Illinois Republicans currently control just one statewide office, State Treasurer, and have become a small minority in both houses of the General Assembly in recent years. Just a few years ago, they controlled every statewide office and both houses of the General Assembly. With guys like Brady leading the way, the Illinois GOP is destined to be the minority party in the moderate state of Illinois for many more years.

Kansas' Limon Decision: The Continuing Impact of Lawrence

The impact of the Supreme Court’s holding in the 1993 case, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down Texas’ sodomy law directed at sexual conduct by persons of the same sex continues to be felt as the Kansas Supreme Court this week struck down a criminal statute similarly directed at same sex behavior in State v. Limon. Specifically, the Kansas court ruled that the state’s so-called “Romeo and Juliet” statute which permitted much lesser penalties for persons found guilty of having sex with minors near in age of the opposite sex than persons found guilty of having sex with the same group of protected minors but of the same sex unconstitutional as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution under the 14th Amendment. “[M]oral disapproval of conduct” is not enough to justify harsher penalties for same sex offenders than opposite sex offenders according to the ruling.

The disparity in how Kansas’ criminal law treated gay sexual offenders as opposed to straight sexual offenders could not have been more striking as it was in Limon. The case involved two young males housed at a school for developmentally disabled children. The offender, Matthew Limon, had just turned 18 one week before the consensual, sexual act occurred. As the court described Limon, intellectually he “falls between the ranges described as borderline intellectual functioning and mild mental retardation.” Limon engaged in a sexual act with a 14-year old, or a minor less than 4 years his age. According to the court, the minor “function[ed] in the upper limits of the range of mild mental retardation” and “consented to the sexual contact, and when he asked Limon to stop, Limon did so.” Limon was convicted under Kansas’ statute for criminal sodomy. Because Limon had also been convicted as a juvenile offender previously for committing sodomy, his penalty was elevated and he received a sentence of over 17 years in prison, in addition to having to register as a persistent sexual offender upon his release.

Under Kansas’ Romeo and Juliet statute, a much less harsh penalty is provided under the following circumstances for consensual sex acts when: 1) the victim is a child of 14 or 15; (2) the offender is less than 19 years of age and less than 4 years older than the victim; (3) the victim and offender are the only ones involved; and (4) the victim and offender are members of the opposite sex.. Limon met all of these conditions, except for the last, since his “victim” was of the same sex. Had his “victim” been a girl and had he been sentenced under the Romeo and Juliet statute, his maximum sentence would have been no more than 15 months instead of the 17-year plus sentence he received, and he would not have been required to registered as a sex offender.

When Limon initially appealed his decision, it was denied by Kansas’ Court of Appeals. While a request for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court was still pending, the Lawrence decision was handed down, allowing Limon to renew his appeal in state court. Just one day after issuing this decision, the Supreme Court granted Limon's petition, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case to the Kansas Court of Appeals "for further consideration in light of Lawrence v. Texas."

The Lawrence decision overturned the high court’s earlier ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld the constitutionality of state sodomy laws. A majority opinion by Justice Kennedy held that Texas’ sodomy law directed only at such sexual activity between persons of the same sex violated the defendant’ due process rights under the 14th Amendment. The Lawrence opinion found that the defendants had a protected liberty interest in engaging in the consensual sexual acts of their choice in the privacy of their home, which could not be infringed upon absent a legitimate state interest. The majority opinion by Kennedy said, “The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."

While the Kansas Supreme Court based its opinion on the Lawrence decision, it held the Romeo and Juliet statute to be unconstitutional on a different basis. Instead, the Kansas court relied upon Justice Sandra Day O’Connors’ concurring opinion in Lawrence, which held the Texas sodomy law to be unconstitutional under the equal protection clause. She concluded her analysis in the opinion by stating: "A law branding one class of persons as criminal based solely on the State's moral disapproval of that class and the conduct associated with that class runs contrary to the values of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause, under any standard of review."

Under Equal Protection cases, the court applies one of three standards: strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny and the rational basis test. The level of scrutiny applied by the court is determined by the nature of the legislative classification and the rights affected by that classification. As a general rule, courts apply the rational basis test unless the legislative classification targets a suspect class or burdens a fundamental right.

The Kansas court first found that statute invoked involved a discriminatory classification, although not as bad as that in Lawrence, where an act between same sex partners was criminal while the same act between opposite sex partners was not criminal. While the acts of both same and opposite sex partners was criminalized in Limon, the presumptive penalties and added stigma of having to register as a sex offender made the law as applied to same sex offenders discriminatory.

The Kansas court rejected the plea of Limon to apply a strict scrutiny case because the Lawrence decision had not specifically found homosexuals to be a suspect class. Again, the Kansas court turned to O’Connor’s concurring opinion which suggested “"a more searching form of rational basis review" applies when a law exhibits a "desire to harm a politically unpopular group." The Limon court also observed that the Supreme Court had applied a rational basis test in finding in Romer that Colorado’s state law prohibiting local governments from enacting ordinances to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination violated the equal protection clause.

In applying the rational basis test, the Limon court relied upon the considerations applied by the lower Court of Appeals, which had upheld the statute. Those state interests in enacting the law according to the Court of Appeals included: (1) the protection and preservation of the traditional sexual mores of society; (2) preservation of the historical notions of appropriate sexual development of children; (3) protection of teenagers against coercive relationships; (4) protection of teenagers from the increased health risks that accompany sexual activity; (5) promotion of parental responsibility and procreation; and (6) protection of those in group homes.

The Kansas Supreme Court unanimously rejected the lower court ruling in finding no rational basis for the law. The court said: “We conclude that . . . the Kansas unlawful voluntary sexual relations statute . . . does not pass rational basis scrutiny under the United States Constitution Equal Protection Clause or, because we traditionally apply the same analysis to our state constitution, under the Kansas Constitution Equal Protection Clause . . . Furthermore, the State's interests fail under the holding in Lawrence that moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest. As Justice Scalia [in his dissenting opinion] stated: ‘If, as the [United States Supreme] Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest,’ the statute cannot ‘survive rational-basis review.’ Because we determine the statute violates constitutional equal protection guarantees based upon a rational basis analysis, we need not reach Limon's other arguments that strict scrutiny should be applied, including his argument that the statute discriminates based on sex.

As a remedy for the unconstitutional statute, the court ordered the “offending language” stricken rather than nullifying the statute, which the court said was consistent with legislative intent because the statute contained a severability clause.

Reaction to the Limon decision was predictable. “Gay rights groups praised the ruling, while conservatives bitterly complained that the court intruded on the Legislature's authority to make the laws,” the Associated Press reported. Mathew Staver, attorney for the conservative Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel, told the AP that “the different treatment was justified by the state's interest in protecting children and families.” He also said the court does not have the right to rewrite the statute. "That's a legislative function," he said. "This is clearly a sign of an activist court system."

Patricia Logue, a senior counsel for the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, told the AP that “she hopes the decision will slow efforts in various states to enact legislation targeting gays.” "A lot of the reasoning used here by the state comes up again and again," she said. "What the court is saying is, `If you've got a better reason, you would have told us by now. The ones you've come up with are not good enough, and they amount to not liking gay people.'"

According to the report, the Kansas Attorney General does not plan to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. This case should serve as a warning to the Indiana General Assembly that its penchant for pursuing legislation aimed at what it perceives to be "unpopular groups", such as gays and lesbians, will have tough sledding in the courts in light of Lawrence and its prodigy.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Patrick Fitzgerald Gets A New Web Site

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has launched a new web site for his “special counsel” investigation of the CIA leak case. The Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin asks: “Could it be that he's getting ready to release some new legal documents? Like, maybe, some indictments?” Fitzgerald’s spokesman told the Post not to read too much into the new web site. Randall Samborn said, “I would strongly caution, Dan, against reading anything into it substantive, one way or the other . . . It's really a long overdue effort to get something on the Internet to answer a lot of questions that we get . . . and to put up some of the documents that we have had ongoing and continued interest in having the public be able to access."

It is not uncommon for courts with high profile cases to create special web sites for the purpose of posting court filings and press releases pertaining to the case like Fitzgerald has just done. But if he intended to wrap the case up without any indictments or further proceedings there will be little need to create a  special web site for the case. For now, it looks like a good site to bookmark for future reference.

Governor Daniels Will Be A Cowardly Lion

For your Friday reading humor comes this late breaking news from the Indianapolis Star: Governor Daniels and his wife will live in the Governor’s residence after all, and Governor Daniels will be dressing up as the Cowardly Lion for Halloween so he and his wife, Cheri, who will be dressed up as Dorothy, can hand candy out to visiting children. Daniels told the Star: "Let's just say I never thought of myself as lacking courage." But he tells the Star that he wasn't given a lot of choice in the costume.

Advance Indiana can only ponder whether Governor Daniels should dress up as the Tin Man instead. He or whoever made the decision for him obviously has a tin ear to decide to dress up as the Wizard of Oz's Cowardly Lion in the wake of the criticism he has taken from the GLBT community, Advance Indiana, bilerico and others for selling out this past week to the Christian right on gay civil rights. But then again, if the shoe fits wear it. Also, one can only imagine the ensuing comments from the fact that the Governor and his wife have chosen to dress up as friends rather than a real couple since some people already have their doubts. Taking Down Words should have a lot of fun with this fall fodder.

Back to the residence issue, the Star tells us that the Governor and his wife plan to move into the residence next June after the ongoing renovations are completed. You may recall that Daniels initially announced that he and his wife would not be living in the official residence; rather, they intended to build a palatial home in a gated Carmel community. The Governor quickly aborted that plan, however, after a friendly reporter reminded him of the requirement in the Indiana Constitution that the Governor reside in the state’s capitol city. For his wife’s part, she has begrudgingly assumed some duties as the state’s first lady after initially dropping hints that she might not bother to serve the role at all. She seldom accompanies the governor to official events, or much of anywhere for that matter.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rock Indiana To Haunt Senator Miller's Halloween Party

Pepper Partin and Rock Indiana have returned after a brief hiatus to haunt Senator Pat Miller’s Irvington Halloween Party. Rock Indiana, an ad hoc grassroots organization fighting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender discrimination, announced today its plan to publicize Senator Patricia Miller's radical anti-gay endeavors in the state's legislature during the Irvington Halloween Festival on October 29. Miller is a co-sponsor of the annual event held in her district according to the release.

An event organizers have dubbed, “Indiana’s Witch Hunt”, will distribute literature that will include details on Miller's legislative actions which, they insist, represent extremist anti-gay sentiment in Indiana's Senate. Organizers say the witch hunt theme draws upon Miller's proactive measures to keep Hoosier gays and lesbians from domestic partner benefits, entering into legal unions and having children. "Our state's economy is nothing short of a farce and Miller would rather spend taxpayers' money on a witch hunt - fulfilling her own personal agenda of oppressing gays and lesbians, who, by the way, are taxpayers too," says Pepper Partin, founder of Rock Indiana and a constituent in Miller's district.

According to the press release, Partin says that getting the word out to fellow constituents that Miller is an extremist who should not hold public office is the primary goal of attending the Halloween festival and engaging festival-goers. She contends that Senator Miller, with her latest highly publicized proposed bill to keep unmarried persons from artificially conceiving children, has helped to bring attention to the Senator's endeavors; thereby making Rock Indiana's job at the festival much easier. "Miller has drawn her own caricature of notoriety with her latest proposal aimed directly at gays and lesbians who cannot enter into a legal union in Indiana. No doubt many festival attendees will have heard about her personal crusade in the legislature."

Partin says that she and Rock Indiana organizers intend to direct Halloween festival goers to Miller's booth to discuss the literature the organization will be distributing. "I would think that Senator Miller will be more than happy to look her constituents in the eyes and tell them why she believes that oppressing Hoosier gays and lesbians is not only constitutional but a noble cause for her to champion as a legislator."

Pepper Partin and Rock Indiana were responsible for organizing a rally earlier this year at the State House in opposition to SJR 7, a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages and civil unions in Indiana. More than 1,000 protestors turned out for the event. According to the press release, Rock Indiana was also responsible for the statewide $2 Bill Campaign that began May 1, 2005 and ended August 31, 2005. The campaign brought attention to the economic power of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers.

The Irvington Halloween Festival, produced by the Irvington Town Council and co-sponsored by Senator Patricia Miller, takes place October 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Washington Street between Ritter and Arlington. For more information on the Festival go to:

For more information about Rock Indiana's grassroots endeavors, contact Pepper Partin at

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nuvo On Puritan Politics

This week’s edition of Indy alternative newspaper Nuvo features a cover story by Laura McPhee entitled, “Puritan Politics: Reforming Inidana’s sex, family and marriage laws with faith-based legislation”. McPhee’s story is an excellent discussion of the impact the religious right is having here in Indiana and elsewhere in imposing its own moral code as seen through their eyes based upon the old and new testaments of the Bible on the rest of society through the legislative process. Specifically, the article focuses on the efforts of the Indiana Family Institute and its leader, Curt Smith, and Advance America and its leader, Eric Miller. She omits Micah Clark and his American Family Association of Indiana, an oversight that just might send him over the edge—again.

McPhee’s article traces a panoply of issues these groups have sought to legislate, often with success, including sex education, gay marriage and civil rights, unauthorized reproduction and covenant marriages in place of no-fault divorces. The article really puts into perspective the extent to which these religious zealots are willing to go to establish a Christian society as they see it through their tortured and rigid interpretation of the Bible.

If you think her article reserves criticism for conservative Republicans only, thing again. As McPhee bluntly puts it, “Perhaps the greatest success of the evangelical agenda is the lack of courage Democrats have shown in stopping it. At the state level, most are afraid to speak out against change in the Indiana Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman and withholding legal rights from couples.” To prove her point she quotes a high-ranking Democratic senator as saying, “I don’t like it, but if I vote against the amendment my opponent will use it against me in the next election. They’ll say I’m gay, or I support gay rights, and that will be all the campaign is about.”

McPhee also observed that most Democratic senators sat silently in the Health Finance Commission meetings this summer as Senator Miller began crafting her reproductive rights bill, and that several Democrats on the Indianapolis City-County Council voted against the HRO. She also quotes Democrat Patrice Abdullah, who represents the council district with the most gay citizens and voted against the HRO as saying: “I don’t think that I should be forced to compromise my integrity and my beliefs as to what God put here for us to obey and to accept.”

Advance Indiana is happy to see that Nuvo has finally arrived to the dance, even if it is a little late. It should also be observed that McPhee’s article borrows extensively from previous postings on these matters at and Advance Indiana without attribution. But as the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Clark Laments: And You Too, Brizzi?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bush Knew About Rove's Role Two Years Ago

The New York Daily News reports today that President Bush knew two years ago that Karl Rove had talked to reporters about Valerie Plame’s role in sending her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq may have materials for weapons of mass destruction. The Daily News writes: “An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News. ‘He made his displeasure known to Karl, a presidential counselor told the Daily News. ‘He made his life miserable about this.’" But he didn’t fire him.

When news of the leak of a covered CIA agent triggered a federal investigation, President Bush told the press he would fire the person or persons responsible for the leak. Although Joe Wilson claimed from the outset that Karl Rove was responsible for the leak, his role in the leak did not become publicly known until Newsweek reporter Matthew Cooper testified before the grand jury and revealed that he had spoken to Rove about Plame. As reported by the Daily News, White House sources suggested that Rove had misled the President about his role in the leak once Cooper disclosed his source, but that it turns out was just to protect the President. The Daily News writes: “A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.”

A particularly troubling aspect of the Daily News report is why Bush was upset with Rove. “Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," a the source told the Daily News. Or as Advance Indiana has described it, they conducted a “third rate leak.” If Bush had done what he told the press he planned to do if he found out who leaked Plame’s identity, his administration wouldn’t find itself in the mess it does today.

On another note, the New York Times reports today that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will not issue a final report. But he is expected to ask the grand jury to issue indictments in connection with the investigation next week. The White House is apparently expecting the worst. The Times reports that the White House is already discussing replacements for Rove, including communications chief, Dan Bartlett, Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt and an Advance Indiana favorite, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, a closeted gay man who, along with several other members of his staff, was outed by D.C. area bloggers earlier this year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Could A Third Rate Leak Bring Down Bush (If Not Cheney)?

A third rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building by the infamous White House plumbers unit brought down the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Could a third rate leak by members of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) bring down the presidency of George W. Bush?

Until recently, few in Washington or elsewhere in the country expected Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to find any smoking gun evidence to implicate anyone in the Bush administration in a criminal act with respect to outing the identity of a covered CIA agent, Valerie Plame. But now Washington is abuzz with rumors of impending indictments against high-ranking officials, which may happen as soon as tomorrow according to news reports today.

Further raising the stakes, news reports today suggest that Vice President Cheney may be implicated as well. This has already sparked rumors, according to U.S. News & World Report, that the Vice President will resign his office, and that Bush is poised to appoint Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to replace him. Under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution (authored by former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh), any person Bush appointed to replace Cheney would be subject to confirmation by a majority of both houses of Congress. Rumors of Cheney’s resignation and Rice’s appointment spread so fast that conservatives have already begun mobilizing opposition to Rice, who is reported to be pro-choice according to the report.

If the Washington Post is correct, Fitzgerald may announce the findings of his investigation as soon as tomorrow. Fitzgerald has become a seasoned prosecutor of high ranking public officials. In Illinois, he is currently prosecuting former Illinois Governor George Ryan, a trial that is now in its third week. He is also investigating corruption by current Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyovich and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Those investigations have already yielded numerous indictments, convictions and plea bargains. This guy, unlike Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr, is a serious prosecutor. Had Fitzgerald been the prosecutor in charge of the Clinton investigations, suffice it to say that both Bill and Hillary Clinton would be sitting in the klink right now.

If history is any guide, here is what to watch for with Fitzgerald. It is highly unlikely that he would announce an indictment out of the shoot against a very high ranking official such as Vice President Cheney or President Bush. Instead, he will target an immediate underling to his ultimate target that he has a solid case against. The indictment charge will refer to the ultimate target as “Public Official A” or “Public Official B.” Persons familiar with the case will have no trouble discerning who the prosecutor is ultimately targeting with his investigation.

Fitzgerald does not do much leaking of his work until he’s ready to play ball. Clearly, the leaking from people familiar with the case has escalated more in the last week than it has at any other point during the entire 2-year plus period he’s been conducting his investigation. Some of those leaks are no doubt being made at his direction. If he is indeed ready to announce his findings as early as tomorrow, as suggested by the Post, look for a leak to the Post late this evening. He typically gives a heads up to a major news media source about 12 hours before he makes his case known to the public. The New York Times is unlikely to be the beneficiary of an early leak given the entanglement of it and its reporter, Judith Miller, in the ongoing investigation. That same reason would apply to other major news sources whose reporters were ensnared by the investigation, such as Newsweek’s Matthew Cooper.

Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride. It’s going to get interesting.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Is Someone Singing To The Prosecutor?

Rawstory is reporting that Tuesday’s edition of the New York Daily News will report that a senior White House official has flipped in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak case and is now aiding U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in his investigation. Attention is said to be focused on members of the White House Iraq Group, the White House’s marketing arm for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and Vice President Dick Cheney.

If a senior official in the Bush White House is singing to the prosecutor, it would most likely be a member of this group, which includes the following persons:

You can immediately rule out Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, both of whom have provided inconsistent statements of their participation in the outing of Valerie Plame, and who are reported to be prime targets for indictment. However, there have been reports of a rift between Libby and Rove, and even between Bush and Cheney, if you can believe that. Could it be that one is laying all the blame on the other? If that is the case, it is likely Rove blaming it all on Libby and Vice President Cheney.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is extremely loyal to President Bush and strong advocate for the Iraq invasion unlike her predecessor, Colin Powell. She has said she has cooperated with the investigation, but she has declined to say whether she testified before the grand jury. She seems a very unlikely person to turn on anyone in the administration.

Karen Hughes, another close Bush loyalist, recently rejoined the administration as an under-Secretary of State for Rice and is similarly not inclined to turn on a Bush insider, at least not Karl Rove with whom she worked very closely during the first Bush campaign and first term and certainly not Bush, for whom she has a deep admiration.

Mary Matalin, who is married to Democrat political guru James Carville, is very close to Vice President Dick Cheney. Some reports have it that the prosecutor is looking closely at Cheney’s possible role in the leak. It is unlikely Matalin would turn on her boss. Matalin was axed by George H.W. Bush as a campaign consultant during his re-election bid because of her relationship to Carville. Cheney took a lot of flack from Republicans for bringing Matalin back into the fold. It seems unlikely she would turn on him. However, she has reportedly testified to the grand jury, even though she left the administration a few months prior to the leak.

If you eliminate the high profile members of the White House Iraq Group, it leaves just three individuals, Stephen Hadley, Nicholas Calio and James Wilkinson. Stephen Hadley, a national security assistant to the President, has been heavily criticized for his role in trumping up charges that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion. At one point he offered his resignation to Bush, which Bush refused. As a staunch defender of the Iraqi invasion with strong backing from Bush, he too would seem an unlikely person to aid the prosecutor, at least against Bush.

Calio, the only outsider, is a powerful Washington lobbyist who currently is a senior vice president for Citigroup. Because he is the only real outsider in the group, he might be more inclined to assist the prosecutor.

Wilkinson has been a senior national security advisor to Bush since 2003. Prior to that he worked for General Tommy Franks, was a spokesman for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and a worked as a Capitol Hill staffer for former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. He probably has the least loyalty to Libby or Rove of any of the other members.

Take your pick. It will be interesting to see who turned on whom. Stay tuned.

Miers Believes In Right to Privacy

Fox News is reporting that it has been told by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers told him that she believes the U.S. Constitution embodies a right to privacy. She further advised Senator Specter that she believes the Supreme Court correctly decided Griswold v. Connecticut, the famous 1965 decision which struck down a Connecticut statute prohibiting the use of contraceptives as a form of birth control, or providing medical advice for the use thereof. The Court found the Bill of Rights to include a right to privacy that extended to marital affairs.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) had earlier told Fox News that he had reservations about Miers because she had declined to discuss Griswold with him, or her views in general on the right to privacy.

Conservative legal scholars have decried Griswold as a glaring example of judicial activism that set the stage for later opinions expanding the right to privacy, such as Roe v. Wade (providing a right to abortion) and Lawrence v. Kansas (nullifying anti-sodomy laws). It is been haled as a landmark decision by civil libertarians.

If Miers accepts a constitutional right to privacy and the Griswold decision, it is difficult to believe she would ever join the Court’s conservative bloc led by Justice Antonin Scalia in voting to overturn Roe v. Wade. It also provides hope to gay civil rights advocates that she will uphold challenges to Lawrence, Roemer (striking down a Colorado law that prevented local governments from enacting local laws banning discrimination against gays and lesbians) and other landmark gay civil rights cases.

This news is not likely to sit well with the Christian right, which had recently been buoyed by reports that friends of hers had told several leaders in the religious right that they believed she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Advance Indiana would hasten to add that Chief Justice John Roberts told senators he believed in a right to privacy as well during his recent confirmation hearing, despite a general antipathy he had expressed in his legal writings about the "so-called" right during his years working in the Reagan administration. Roberts' comments on Griswold, however, could be interpreted to mean that he would limit its holding to a “marital right to privacy.”

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Has Daniels Capitulated to Christian Right on Gay Civil Rights?

Governor Mitch Daniels has admirably endured quite a beating over the past six months in defending his administration’s EEO policy barring the State from discriminating against non-civilian state employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But Daniels seemingly went out of his way to undermine efforts to pass a similar human rights ordinance (“HRO”) for the City of Indianapolis according to comments attributed to him in today’s Indianapolis Star column, “Behind Closed Doors”.

The column reported that Daniels declined to support renewed efforts to pass the HRO, which was voted down by Indianapolis’ City-County Council last April. The article quotes Daniels as saying: “I think private associations, private businesses ought to be left alone to make their own decisions within the existing civil rights statutes. In public office a clear declaration that discriminatory hiring is not permitted is worth making clear.” He added, “Communities ought to be left a free hand to decide what rules they want to live under, at least within the framework of the national civil rights statute and the Constitution. I’d leave that up to Marion County, but I’d be reluctant to see that imposed top-down on the whole state or all citizens.”

In one sense, Daniels’ views are no different than the view of segregationists during the civil rights battles of the 1960s. Like the segregationists, he is arguing the old states' rights view that each local community should get to decide for themselves whether to allow private businesses to discriminate and against any generalized civil rights law prohibiting such discrimination in the private sector. The states’ rights advocates believed that the original intent of the U.S. Constitution was that government could not discriminate but that private citizens were free to do as they please. He believes that a “clear declaration” is needed for state employees, but let’s allow private employers to decide what is best for their employees.

Few would argue today that had the federal government not enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the widespread discrimination against African-Americans in this country would have continued unabated. It is fair to believe that gays and lesbians will continue to endure discrimination, particularly as long as there are people who subscribe to the view of extremist religious groups that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against this class of persons. Daniels’ obviously incongruous position on gay civil rights severely undercuts support for his own policy. Even worse, it signals to all those Republican city council members who have voted in near lock-step against the Indy HRO that its okay to continue blocking its passage.

Daniels statements cannot mean anything other than he opposes federal and state civil rights laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. He is also expressing a clear preference that private employers be permitted to decide whether to discriminate and against local laws such as Indy’s proposed HRO. To say that his statements are disappointing to civil rights supporters is an understatement. It is a complete capitulation to the view taken by leading anti-gay advocates in Indiana, including Eric Miller, Curt Smith and Micah Clark.

For the sake of supporters of Indy’s HRO and civil rights in general, Advance Indiana hopes that Daniels has been misquoted by the Indianapolis Star. But until we hear otherwise, we have little hope that Governor Daniels has the courage to choose principle over politics when it comes to issues pertaining to gay civil rights.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Indiana Judges Battle Gay Adoption

An Associated Press story from today’s Fort Wayne News-Gazette details the struggles a Morgan County lesbian couple are encountering in their efforts to adopt a 1-year old girl originally placed in their home by foster care. The Morgan County Office of Family and Children placed the child with Becki Hamilton and Kim Brennan two days after the child was born and asked the couple to adopt the child according to the report.

The adoption hit a roadblock, however, when Morgan Circuit Court Judge Matthew Hanson learned the couple was unmarried. The judge ordered the agency to look for a married couple to adopt the child. Curiously, the story reports that the couple’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with the judge’s decision; instead, it was because they were unmarried. Of course, the judge knew that Indiana law would not permit the lesbian couple to legally marry.

The couple was not deterred by Judge Hanson’s decision. They then petitioned Marion County Superior Court Judge Charles Dieter, who granted the adoption, finding that the adoption was in the child’s best interests. Judge Hanson, however, refused to release the girl’s status as a ward of the Morgan County Office of Family and Children. The matter is now being appealed to the Court of Appeals.

The couple is getting the support of Lamba Legal in their battle to keep the one-year child. The report quotes Patricia Logue, a senior counsel for Lambda Legal as saying: “Do we really want a rule that says after a child has been with a family for a year and is doing very well that we’re going to uproot her and sort of roll the dice on another family just because they’re married? The main thing is what’s best for this kid.”

This will be an interesting case to watch. Don’t be surprised to see legislation ala Senator Pat Miller and her reproductive rights to further attack the rights of gays to be parents.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Brizzi Reaffirms Non-Discrimination Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hostettler Teams Up Again With Religious Wing Nuts To Stop ACLU

Agape News is reporting that Indiana Congressman John Hostettler (R) is teaming up with Christian extremists to block the ACLU from bringing Establishment Clause cases. Congressman Hostettler is proposing legislation to amend The Civil Rights' Attorney's Fees Act of 1976 to prohibit prevailing parties from being awarded attorney's fees in religious establishment cases, but not in other civil rights filings.

Agape News says that the Center for Reclaiming America is "mobilizing more than 100,000 Americans to urge Congress to curb the ACLU" by passing Hostettler's legislation. The petition calls for "a stand against the ACLU's radical agenda, which undermines our nation's moral and religious heritage."

Hostettler tried unsuccessfully to pass similar legislation in 2003, but it failed to even make it out of committee. Supporters are more confident of its passage this time. The report said,
"[S]upporters are hopeful that the current legislation will pass this session because of the more conservative makeup of the current Congress, as well as escalating calls to curb activist judges, particularly on matters of religion."

That pesky First Amendment to the Constitution. It's always getting in the way of the religious zealots. What would we do without it?

Lawrence Council Wars Heat Up

The battles between Lawrence Mayor Deborah Cantwell and the city council are beginning to look more and more like the council wars of lore between Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington, and the Chicago City Council. Mayor Cantwell has filed a lawsuit against the council alleging separation of power violations by the council over spending according to the Indianapolis Star. Kevin Corcoran reports: “The suit alleges the council is treading on executive turf by increasing its own budget line items and hiring outside consultants and advisors without legal authority.”

Under Indiana law (I.C. 36-4-4-5), the suit must be heard en banc by all 32 of Marion County’s superior court judges because it involves a dispute concerning “the executive or legislative power or duty exercised or proposed to be exercised. . . " Marion County has not heard such an en banc case since the City-County Council redistricting dispute in 2003. Marion County presiding judge, Cale Bradford, told the Star, “It’s a logistically difficult task.”

Corcoran reported that Cantwell brought the suit to reign in the city council. “Cantwell wants the county's judges to rein in the council, which her administration says has a budget of $416,000 -- or, three times greater than councils in similarly sized cities such as Marion and Richmond require,” Corcoran wrote. All pre-trial motions are to be handled by Superior Court Judge Patrick McCarty according to Corcoran.