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.