For example, earlier this week Biddle commented that my comparison of the Senate's actions this past week in passing SJR-7 by a 39-10 vote with a period in the 1920s when the KKK controlled the Indiana legislature and used that power to write laws which discriminated against Catholics, immigrants, blacks or any other minority group disfavored by a tyrannical majority. Biddle thought such a comparison made me look silly. He writes:
That by one blogger of state Senate President Pro Tempore David Long to a Grand Cyclops of the Klu Klux Klan because he allowed a vote on the anti-gay marriage amendment contained in Senate Joint Resolution 7. Come on. Certainly the amendment is a wrongful attempt to codify bigotry, but if Long stifled the vote, he would have gotten heat from the same corner -- and others -- for not allowing things to proceed in a democratic manner. And then, be compared to his predecessor, Bob Garton, who tried to hold back discussion of the wine sales bill last year before being ousted by voters. One has to wonder if the Klansman label would also apply to House Speaker Pat Bauer, who is also allowing a vote on SJR-7. Given his leanings, the claim would be laughable at best. But if Long is tarred with this comparison based on this absurd logic, then Bauer is also deserving. Long shouldn't have voted for it, but he did the right thing by letting the vote proceed. And last I checked, he wasn't wearing white sheets, burning crosses on the property of gays and lynching them. A little more reason -- and less hyperbole -- is in order here.
Fellow bloggers Chris Douglas and Steph Mineart offered a spirited defense of my comparison in a comment. In response, Biddle said, "Comparing someone to a Klansman when they (sic) actions don't warrant such comparison makes the one doing that look silly in the eyes of more reasonable people, especially those who are generally supportive of your aims. Or as the old saying goes: Think before you speak." He added, "If you and Welsh have completely lost your sense of reason to understand this, then that is your problem. Hopefully others in your camp aren't so stubbornly ignorant of this."
Following this exchange, I forwarded an e-mail to Biddle which Eric Miller, one of the leading religious right proponents of SJR-7, sent out this week unloading on a proposed hates bill in which he takes direct aim at gays, lesbians and transgender persons. In true form, Biddle quickly responded with a post entitled "Two Wrongs Don't Make Right." Biddle conceded Miller's e-mail amounted to bigotry. But he quickly adds, "Then there (sic) the silly and is an opponent of SJR-7 (again, he talks about me without naming me), who declared last week on his Web site that the state Senate President Pro Tempore David Long will leave a "dark legacy" because of his vote for the proposed amendment and for allowing it to come to a vote in the first place." Because Biddle won't post my response on his blog to his comments, I will share them with you here.
As I explained to Biddle, I have enjoyed researching Indiana's history, both the good and the bad. One would be amazed at how much one could learn by studying our history, but because Biddle already knows everything, picking up a history book is the last thing he's about to do. I've written often here about the Americanization agenda the KKK pursued during its heyday in the 1920s--the primary purpose of which was to foment hate and bigotry at the latest arrival of immigrants and Catholics in particular. Biddle hasn't studied that era much, or the era in Indiana during the 1850s to 1865 when the so-called Black code laws were adopted.
Under our former constitution, our esteemed legislature decided to enact Article 13 (appropriately numbered) to our old constitution. It excluded new black arrivals from the state, barred interracial marriages and prohibited a black man from testifying against a white man, among other things. One of the state's leading newspapers, the Sentinel, endorsed Article 13 so that the state would not be "overrun with a miserable population" according to the "Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly." There were legislators at the time who decried racism at the same time they cast a vote in favor of it. One such legislator was Sen. James Hester (D) of Brown County. He described the proposed laws as "inhuman, and will . . . be inoperative in enlightened communities." He said he, nonetheless voted for it because he believed a majority of his constituents wanted it." A Whig newspaper in Madison, Indiana, distraught at the position of lawmakers like Hester, wrote:
There seems to be a determined and studied prejudice, against those unfortunate citizens who have a black skin, in the Legislature of this State at the present time. Constitutional privileges and natural rights--to say nothing of human sympathy--seem to be but feeble barriers when opposed to this prejudice. Some of these gentlemen are evidently courting popularity under the false impression, that public sentiment is as insane and inhuman as they will, doubtless, succeed in proving themselves to be.At that time in history, the only legislators who voted against these racist laws were the Whigs. The Republican Party was just being born, and the Democrats, who dominated the legislature during some of this dark period, embraced the racist agenda. In the 1920s, it was the Republican Party which dominated the legislature and carried the torch for the KKK, although a number of Democrats joined forces with them as well. Fortunately, Article 13 was nullified after the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War. Such discrimination has never made its way back into our state's constitution, although there have been plenty of discriminatory laws enacted by our esteemed legislature.
Now, David Long, Brandt Hershman, Brent Steele and all the others who champion SJR-7 as the end-all, be-all solution to preserving the sanctity of marriage can profess all they want that they aren't anti-gay bigots. The fact remains they are carrying the torch for folks from the religious right, such as Eric Miller, Jim Bopp and Micah Clark, who most assuredly are anti-gay bigots. The end result is the same as Sen. Hester understood back in the 1850s when he cast his lot with political expediency over the fundamental rights of black people. When legislators cast a vote for the anti-gay bigot's agenda, they are endorsing this form of bigotry, just as those legislators who supported the KKK's agenda in the 1920s and the organized racists of the 1850s endorsed institutionalized racism and bigotry. Everyone knows SJR-7 will do absolutely nothing to stem the breakdown of "traditional marriage" as represented by a growing divorce rate and an increasing number of children being born out of wedlock. It's purpose is to punish gay people--nothing more and nothing less.
As I explained to Biddle, it's a matter of whose ox is being gored. You can rest assured Biddle would be singing a different song if lawmakers were brazenly supporting a constitutional amendment which discriminated against blacks. While Biddle has expressed his personal opposition to the amendment, he makes light of its true impact on the affected citizens, which is both demeaning and insulting.