Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More On Our Secret Supporter Senator Garton

It was bad enough that members of the GLBT community expressed the view that Sen. Robert Garton was the best friend the community had in the Indiana legislature for the past 36 years on a community blog site, Bilerico.com, but now we must endure the embarrassment and folly of it being expressed on the opinion page of the Indianapolis Star. Some friends of our community tell us:

It was with his quiet assistance that sexual orientation was added to the hate-crimes bill in 2000 and a measure included providing for the protections of the transgendered. Indeed, Garton was one of the few politicians at that time, Republican or Democrat, willing to have a reasonable discussion about the plight of the transgendered in Indiana.

Garton's sober leadership was important in killing bills to ban adoption by same-sex couples and bills to ban our universities from offering same-sex domestic partnerships, measures not at all supported by the Star.

Let's begin by making it clear that Indiana is nearly dead last in the nation when it comes to civil rights for its GLBT citizens. The man in charge of the Senate for the past 26 years must have had something to say about that. The hate crimes bill referenced by these friends is not a hate crimes bill at all, such as that adopted by all but 4 states in the nation, including Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming, in addition to Indiana; rather, it is a reporting bill and nothing more. And it is Senator Garton who took us down the first step in the process of writing discrimination into our state constitution for the first time in our state's history to make certain gays and lesbians never have a legal right to marry.

What is particular astonishing is that these friends of the community would attack the Star as being less supportive of the GLBT community than Sen. Garton. While AI has often been highly critical of the Star on several matters, we have never questioned their support for the equality of our state's GLBT citizens. The Star's thoughtful coverage of this past year's gay civil rights struggle in Indianapolis and its editorial support for passage of the HRO, in particular, no doubt made a big difference in moving public opinion on this critical issue.

The GLBT should not mistake who its friends are. Sen. Garton never once uttered the words "gay" and "equality" in the same sentence during his entire 36-year career in the Senate. His so-called "quiet voice of support" these friends of the community tell us was a condition of any relationship at all with the GLBT community, which we're suppose to understand. For if any of his colleagues or political allies were to learn that he supported anything gay, it would have a detrimental impact on his quest for power. That's a friend the GLBT community can do without.

The Star is a friend the GLBT community cannot afford to lose. It is unfortunate that these friends of the GLBT community have mistaken who true friends are.


Jerame Davis said...

Agreed, Gary. Garton was not a true enemy ala Brian Bosma, but he certainly was no friend. He may have been pliable here and there on an issue because he didn't care one way or another...But he certainly wasn't ever going to be accused of being a big hearted lug that believes in equality for all citizens. He certainly wasn't trying to moderate his Senate colleagues when it came to the marriage amendment or adoption bans.

I say good riddance. Let the true face of the Republican party in Indiana take the lead and show people what they really stand for today. It certainly isn't sound fiscal policy and social moderation.

Gary R. Welsh said...

In one respect your very right Jerame. If his departure results in more strident efforts to make GLBT second class citizens, it will present an even uglier face of the Republican Party the majority of Hoosiers want no part of. It will also further galvanize the GLBT community to action, as it did so successfully in the fight for passage of Indy's HRO. His departure isn't a loss; it's an opportunity. And we should make the most of it.

Anonymous said...

Wow--if activists such as the two of you are unwilling to recognize or appreciate even quiet support from moderate R's, then why *should* our party engage in any outreach? In your quest for total acquiescence, you risk alienating the vast majority of people who are somewhere in the middle.

When I read posts such as thism it seems to me that you're the ones drawing a line in the sand. As a moderate R on GLBT issues, I see that as a huge mistake.

Anonymous said...

please cite examples of this "quiet support" of which you speak.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm with Kevin -- show us some examples of this "quiet support" and we'll take that into consideration. But we keep hearing the explanation that negotiations have to take place behind closed doors, and that we "can't strategize publicly" as reasons why we can't be shown examples of such support. I'm not inclined to go along with a "just trust me" explanation.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anonymous--on the question of equality, you are either for it or against it. If civil rights advocates had taken the approach as the GLBT community has taken in Indiana with respect to both Democrats and Republicans, the Rosa Parks would still be sitting at the back of the bus. The so-called middle ground, as you suggest, is to do nothing. A moderate position would be to at least agree on amending our civil rights laws to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but these so-called moderates can't even do that.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I think I understand it now.

"You're either with us, or you're against us."

Where have I heard that line before?

Isn't it funny how nuanced positions transform into unacceptable apostasy the closer they are to home?

Meanwhile, to those on the outside, the insistence on Inquisitorial purity looks petty and self-defeating.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous I have a question. How does one ride the fence on discrimination and bigotry? If you do nothing, if you ignore it, if you look the other way and do nothing to stop it, you condone it. You may make yourself feel better by thinking otherwise but in reality, that is truly all you are doing.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Well said Lori.

Marla R. Stevens said...

Gary, I had no idea you were a closet Leninist! I haven't heard such a spirited version of the make-it-worse-so-the-masses-will-rise-up strategy since the Revolutionary Social Workers gave it up years ago.