Earning their white sheet and hood and a thumbs up from former KKK Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson looking up from his home in hell are: Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield), Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), Sen. Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger), Sen. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville), Sen. David Ford (R-Hartford City) and Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette). These seven legislators, many of whom I'm sad to say are attorneys, voted to write discrimination into our state constitution against an "unpopular minority" for the first time in the state's history.
A vote of 7-4 sends SJR-7 to the full Senate for consideration, where it is expected to pass by a wide margin just as it did two years ago. Although some proponents of SJR-7 claim their intent is only to prevent legal recognition of same-sex marriages, they showed their true colors when they turned back an attempt to remove the controversial second paragraph of the proposed amendment, which prohibits any legal recognition of the incidents of marriage to any unmarried couples or groups.
On the point of the second paragraph, it is unmistakable that the proponents of SJR-7 wish to take away from the legislature any power to recognize civil unions, heath care or inheritance rights for same-sex couples at some point in the future. I at least give Eric Miller credit for his candor on this point. Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana, however, is being less than honest about the purpose behind the second paragraph. At Kenn Gividen's blog, he posted the following comment:
SJR 7 does not prevent the legislature from creating civil unions, what it does do, is prevent an unelected, runaway judge from telling the legislature that it must reject 200 years of state law and centuries of common wisdom and embrace homosexual marriage. SJR 7 does not take away any rights that do not currently exist under state law. All SJR 7 does is allow the people of Indiana to decide this issue, instead of a court or an ACLU lawsuit.
Clark's assertion that SJR-7 does not prevent the legislature from creating civil unions is patently false. Any reasonable interpretation of the language could lead one to no other conclusion than it prohibits recognition of civil unions because such a law would afford same-sex couples the "incidents of marriage", even if it's not called a marriage. Unfortunately, legislators like Sen. Teresa Lubbers are accepting this misinformation about SJR-7 from the Christian right. In a response to a constituent writing to her on SJR-7, Lubbers offered this view of the second paragraph of SJR-7:
I do not believe that sexual preference should be the basis for discrimination against our fellow Hoosiers. I also do not believe that current legislators should bind the actions of any future General Assembly. In other words, it is my opinion that this resolution does not prohibit legislators from passing laws to provide new protections. Subsection B of this resolution speaks to the powers of the judiciary and not the actions of the legislature. Likewise, I do not believe, based on the testimony I heard and my personal study, that SJR-7 prohibits the establishment of domestic partner benefits by employers.
Although the mainstream media continues to ignore the hypocrisy of SJR-7's author, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield), alternative media is not. In this week's Nuvo, Laura McPhee tells Nuvo's readers about past claims by Hershman's ex-wife that he forced her to have an abortion, even driving her to the abortion clinic in Merrillville, only to file for divorce one week later. The focus of McPhee's story is the obstacle Sen. Pat Miller (R-Indianapolis) has posed in the Indiana legislature to enact meaningful, reproductive health reform laws. McPhee observes that Hershman has been a loyal soldier for Miller in the Senate. She writes:
Sen. Brandt Hershman is perhaps Sen. Miller’s staunchest cohort in the anti-abortion delegation of our state legislature. Each year, Sen. Hershman joins Miller in introducing a number of his own bills that seek to make abortions unavailable until they are illegal.
Sen. Hershman favors legislation that makes performing an abortion illegal, unless the mother’s life is at stake. The laws were a little less strict on May 30, 1997 when Sen. Hershman reportedly drove his then wife Tracy Hershman to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Merrillville and, she claims, paid for her to abort their child.
Though the couple had been married for nearly eight years, Sen. Hershman asked his wife for a divorce a week later. He has since remarried. When asked about the abortion during his campaign in 2000, Sen. Hershman told reporters: “I will not discuss my ex-wife or my personal relationships with anyone.”
If the mainstream media scrutinized the bedroom of lawmakers like Hershman who are hell-bent on sticking the government's nose in everybody else's bedroom, I can assure you we would see a lot less of these efforts to legislate the religious right's version of morality. The hypocrisy of these folks is staggering. As former Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) was fond of saying, "Keep the government off our backs and out of our bedroom."