Monday, February 12, 2007

Senator David Long's Dark Legacy

Four score and two years ago, the Indiana General Assembly endured one of the darkest hours of its rich history. The Ku Klux Klan reigned supreme over the legislature in 1925 at a "time when the moral righteousness of the era" reached its zenith according to Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly. "Never before had a single society gathered up so many hatreds or given vent to an inwardness so thoroughgoing," wrote historian John Higham. The Catholics, immigrants and blacks were blamed for all of society's ills. And so there was a nasty Americanization agenda pushed by the KKK's Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson. "The pall of religious bigotry and racial prejudice fostered by the Klan hung over the Indiana General Assembly for years." Reflecting on the impact to the Republican Party, Justin Walsh observed:

As Indiana politics returned to a more normal state, the Republican Party discovered it had lost the black vote. The party of Lincoln had monopolized this vote in the state since the Civil War. In 1924 a majority of blacks voted Democratic for the first time in history. This was twelve years before the black vote nationally switched to the Democratic Party. The defection of black voters from the Republican Party occurred in Indiana first because of the Republican Klan connection.

The old adage that "those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them" rings true as the Indiana Senate egged on by the religious right and its avowed leader Eric Miller did something not even the Klan controlled-legislature of the 1920s was able to achieve. It overwhelmingly voted by a 39-10 vote to approve a constitutional amendment which seeks to strip fundamental rights away from a disfavored group of Hoosier citizens. SJR-7, if approved by the House and by the state's voters in 2008, will amend Indiana's Bill of Rights to take away rights other citizens take for granted, such as the right to marry, or at least a recognition of consenting adults right to cohabitate as life partners, access to a spouse's health insurance benefits, inheritance rights, protection from domestic violence and equal rights with respect to health care decisions and taxation.

The breadth of the amendment is readily discernible from the plain meaning of its words. Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) implored his colleagues to understand their actions today. "I ask you how history will judge our actions today as we consider the possible drafting of constitutional discrimination," Lanane said. A disingenuous Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield), the amendment's author, insists the amendment does not discriminate. "We break no ground by reaffirming what has always been," Hershman said. "In this case, we simply are allowing the people to express their will." Hershman claims the amendment only "protect[s] the sanctity of traditional marriage from lawsuits and activist judges. Yet, the proponents offer no evidence that the mere threat of same-sex marriages has in any way contributed to the breakdown of marriage in America, as evidence by: one in four children being born out of wedlock; most marriages ending in divorce; and a majority of women choosing not to marry.

The Senate's newly-elected President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne), an attorney, cast his lot with political expediency and voted in favor of it as did all of his Republican colleagues. Only 10 lonely Democratic Senators braved a vote in defense of liberty. It is a legacy which will forever stain Long's tenure in the Indiana Senate. Did he compromise fundamental rights of some Hoosiers months earlier to win a coveted leadership position? And it shouldn't go unnoticed that Senate Democratic Leader Richard Young (D-Milltown), who is seeking his party's nomination for governor in 2008, voted for SJR-7, along with five of his Democratic colleagues. Let us honor those who bravely cast a vote in favor of our love of liberty, noting that Sen. Sam Smith (D-East Chicago), who was absent for today's vote, voted against SJR-7 in committee:

Anita Bowser (D-Michigan City) S8@in.gov
Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) S34@in.gov
John Broden (D-South Bend) S10@in.gov
Sue Errington (D-Muncie) S26@in.gov
Glenn Howard (D-Indianapolis) S33@in.gov
Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) S25@in.gov
Earline Rogers (D-Gary) S3@in.gov
Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington) S40@in.gov
Connie Sipes (D-New Albany) S46@in.gov
Karen Tallian (D-Portage) S4@in.gov

The amendment now proceeds to the House where House Speaker Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) announced last year before the election he would allow a second vote as "the only way to prevent Republicans from fanning flames over the issue." Some in his caucus blamed his refusal three years ago when the Democrats were last in control to allow a vote on the amendment as the reason Democrats lost control of the House in the 2004 elections to the Republicans. Will Bauer stain his legacy as Long has done, or will he choose the defense of liberty over political expediency.

History will record today's action as a part of a dark era for the Indiana General Assembly when misplaced moral righteousness once again reared its ugly head. It will record the fact that every major legal organization, every major civic organization and every major business organization remained silent while a disfavored group of citizens were being stripped of their constitutional rights. It will record the fact that virtually every major religious organization in the state remained silent, even the Catholic Church, which itself was once on the receiving end of this same form of hatred and discrimination. Notably rising to the defense of the liberty of Indiana's gay and lesbian citizens were people of the Jewish faith, who understand all too well the danger of silence. Those who choose to remain silent now need to be reminded of the words of Martin Niemöller:



When the Nazis arrested the Communists,I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist.

When they locked up the Social Democrats,I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.

When they arrested the trade unionists,I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist.

When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your fanaticism and hateful vile on this topic does absolutely nothing to win over genuine moderates who might actually be willing to work with you on such issues. The choice of a group of people to engage in an alternative sexual lifestyle has absolutely no comparison to the genuine aguish suffered by blacks and others who had no control over their skin color, or Jews who were starved and put to death by the millions, or even Catholics who were banned from various participation in public. Throughout my life, I have had many friends who were gay and it has never bothered me what they choose to do in the privacy of their own homes, any more than it concerns me what my heterosexual friends choose to do in the privacy of their own homes. But your vile comparisons to the suffering of blacks, the killing of Jews and many other genuine atrocities makes clear to me that there are some elements in the homosexual community who deserve absolutely no respect whatsoever. Regretfully - and I really do mean that - your rantings today make clear that you fit solidly in that fringe, fanatical element. You are hateful. And you are disgusting. And no, I am not talking about your sexual prefences or the things you choose to do in the privacy of your home. I am talking about you.

I am sure that you and other loyal followers of this blog will blast me for saying this. Go right ahead! I know from talking with many other moderate thinkers that your blasts and contorted historical comparisons do absolutely nothing to help you win your cause. Quite to the contrary, you set it back. And while I might have cared previously because of the many gay friends that I have had and continue to have, your extremist thinking and your hateful, narrow-minded comparisons have absolutely demolished any sympathy that I might have had for your cause.

Congratulations. I am sure that I am not the only one. And when SJR07 flies through the House on the same bipartisan vote that it flew through the Senate, and when voters in the state approve this constitutional amendment by a 5:1 margin or better, maybe your blind followers will realize just how much harm you have done. Perhaps that second sentence really could have been changed. Perhaps the amendment could have been avoided in total. But not now. You have completely (and possibly forever) cut off any opportunity for dialogue on this topic.

Congratulations.

Advance Indiana said...

"The choice of a group of people to engage in an alternative sexual lifestyle has absolutely no comparison to the genuine aguish suffered by blacks and others who had no control over their skin color, or Jews who were starved and put to death by the millions, or even Catholics who were banned from various participation in public. Throughout my life, I have had many friends who were gay and it has never bothered me what they choose to do in the privacy of their own homes, any more than it concerns me what my heterosexual friends choose to do in the privacy of their own homes."

Anon, If you had bothered to lay aside your prejudices for a moment and spoken to one of these many gay friends you claim to have you would have learned that they were gay by birth, not by choice. If you had bothered to ask them about prejudices they must endure in daily life, you would understand that SJR-7 has at its roots hate and bigotry. Your protestations are disengenuous to say the least.

Anonymous said...

The lack of understanding by people like anon 7:54 to understand the significance of an amendment which alters the Bill of Rights is breathtaking. You can bet if it were his/her rights which were affected by this amendment, they would feel the same way as AI, me and other people who share the deep concern with the implication of adopting such an amendment for the first time in Indiana history.

Anonymous said...

Sad first post, Gary. It is part of the reason we should've hung Bauer for switching sides.

Anyone who thinks that the Dems lost control in 2004 because of this issue, is naive politically. "Naive" in this case is a polite word for stupid.

Political reality being what it is, if this initiative makes it to the ballot in 2008, Democrats can kiss their leadership positions good-bye. The resulting electoral shift will be felt all the way down-ticket to the county council level.

It's a tad uncomfortable trying to protect an obvious majority from its own ignorance. Republicans, and a few Dems, who voted in the 39 today, should hang their heads in shame.

Ignore the first poster. He's obviously ignorant, and doesn't understand basic human rights or our federal or state constitutions (equal protection clause, et al).

The good senator who trekked to the microphone to deny this Amendment discriminates, instuled my intellegence.

On to the House. And let's take no prisoners there. ANY representative who votes for this Amendment should be put up as an example of what we must defeat--whatever party they are.

Let's hope IE's brilliant strategy works in the House. It must. We have no other choice.

Here's one question I'd like to ask every legislator who votes for this ridiculous Amendment? (Actually, two)

1. Why duplicate existing law, with an Amendment?

2. What did I ever do to you to deserve this kind of kick in the teeth?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:54 you are an idiot. It is estimated that between 15,000 to 600,000 homosexuals were killed in the holocaust. Where in the hell do you think that the pink triangle came from dumb-ass? The Klan is on the rebound and their membership is growing. Thank our Senators folks!

Bil Browning said...

"But your vile comparisons to the suffering of blacks, the killing of Jews and many other genuine atrocities makes clear to me that there are some elements in the homosexual community who deserve absolutely no respect whatsoever."

I think your first commentor forgets that gays and lesbians were in those ovens too...

Matt said...

When does the House take this up? I'll be curious to see what, if anything IE's "Goal-line stand" amounts to.

Anonymous said...

Goal-line or not, Matt, it's all we've got.

Clearly, the House will be a different story. How different is open to debate.

In the House Dem caucus, there are four or five nutballs. There are two or three Republicans I know who might support tanking the Amendment.

So it'll be close.

Go to the hearings. Stand up. Write. Call.

It could work.

Anonymous said...

Matt, I'm curious to know what all you are going to be doing ? Don't wait on an organization, we ALL need to be calling and writing all of the Representatives ourselves. Show up at the hearing. Many that disagree with IE will be going to the statehouse rally on the 19th to try to pack the house and talk to their representatives. This is our last shot, we can go back to IE hating after the house votes on our future.

Anonymous said...

Just curious: Are child molestors born with the same or another disposition that creates that inclination?

If the answer is "no," then why do think gays and lesbians are born that way? In other words, how do claim that one is a trait with which you are born and the other is learned or acquired?

If the answer is "yes," then do you think their constitutional rights are also being infringed upon when we put them in jail, put them on public watch lists, etc?

Over and over again, forums like this have been asked to explain such differences. But there is never an answer. Why?

Until you can answer those questions, a large portion of the population (I dare say, a large majority) will continue to dismiss your inflammatory comments. In turn, you are certainly within your rights to dismiss comments from the other side, as commenters here are doing with the first post. But as you take comfort in doing so, many of us will simply watch as the vote totals and public opinion polls demonstrate clearly that you are losing this debate.

Jeff Newman said...

I'm not "in the know" on this so I'm writing my opinion only, but my take on the House with regards to the amendment is it can be summed up with one name: B. Patrick Bauer.

Bauer has said it will come up for a vote, so it's gonna come up for a vote.

The real question is will Part B of the amendment be amended? The Republicans certainly won't do it, and I believe the Dems will do what the leadership (Bauer) tells them to do.

If, and this is a big if, this thing does not get killed or amended in the House, the state Democrats will have betrayed us, and as far as I'm concerned will no longer be deserving of GLBT support.

I personally (again with the big if above) will advocate for the success of the First Republican types (people like John Elrod and other fair-minded moderate Republicans), as I have always felt the state Democrats lacked economic vision, and from a GLBT perspective, control of the House by the Dems will no longer matter to me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:09, I'm just curious. Do you compare heterosexuality with child molesters? It is no different than comparing homosexuals to child molesters and it is an ignorant and tired argument even though I'm sure that you consider it brilliant.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't consider it "brilliant." Rather, by the arguments I read here and elsewhere, it seems like a perfectly logical and obvious question. How can any of the arguments offered here NOT apply to child molesters as well? No, I do not consider gays and lesbians to be child molesters. But your arguments about being born that way and your arguments about constutional rights make absolutely no distinction. Sure, child molestation involves some attack on the innocent, but I don't see you offering that counter. And if you did, then please explain how you distinguish from polygamy, which is also done between consenting adults.

You call it "an ignorant and tired argument" but I still have not seen an answer to the question here or anywhere else. If it's so ignorant and tired, then why aren't the answers more readily apparent? I don't even expect an orginal answer. Please feel free to refer me to some answer that has already been given. So far, I have not seen any answers at all. And that makes me think that you simply don't have an answer.

Anonymous said...

Then 12:43, the question begs to be asked, were you born heterosexual or do you have same sex attractions and choose to be heterosexual?

kevin said...

anonymous,
I do not know if a child molester is born that way but a child molester physically violates an unsuspecting, unwilling and innocent victim not mature enough to know what is happening to them and scars them emotionally, psychologically and even physically. The consequences of such an act is that the molester forfeits certain rights and priveleges associated with those that do not engage in such heinous acts.

Two CONSENTING ADULTS who have an attraction and/or love for one another and are not harming anyone else are deserving of the same rights as the rest of those who do not inflict harm.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

Two things: 1) Why just TWO consenting adults? I accept your answer on child molestation question (even though I already gave the same answer). But why not poligomy then? 2) "Deserve the same rights" is a far different issue than HAVING the same rights. Your fellow bloggers make the unsubstantiated claim that gays and lesbians already have the right to marry, among other things. You are making a much different claim that is may be more accurate but is definitely debatable.

kevin said...

anonymous,
first of all, I am not a blogger, so I'm not sure what you mean by "fellow bloggers". I do not always agree with the blogs I read - gay or straight. I am not the official voice of the GLBT community, I am just trying to answer your question since no one else is giving you one to your satisfaction.

I, nor any other GLBT person I know is asking for polygamy rights. You'll have to direct that question towards a polygamist. However, if you're using that as a "slippery slope" example, the only answer I have is that the slippery slope argument can be applied towards anything if you get right down to it. Common sense needs to be applied.

Your second question - I'm not completely sure of what you're asking, but I'll attempt it. There are churches that will marry same sex couples but we all know that it is strictly ceremonial and has no legal benefits associated. There are many companies out there now who offer domestic partner benefits (mine is one) but with SJR7, those domestic partner benefits are in jeopardy. Its already happening in Michigan.

Is it so much to ask that my same sex partner - the only person I've ever loved - and whom I've been in a longer relationship than many straight marriages, stay on my health insurance policy? Does that really threaten a straight marriage?

Advance Indiana said...

The anti-gay bigots always interject child molestation into the debate as if homosexuality and child molestation are synonomous. They never explain why so many of the perps who get nabbed for molestation are heterosexual, most commonly father or another close male relative molesting daughter.

Anonymous said...

"Blogger" - One who blogs. Nothing intended by the use of that word, other than the fact we are both responding on a blog. So I think, by definition, we are both "bloggers." And being a blogger does not mean that one agrees with the blog in which they are participating. I'm a "blogger" on AI, but I certainly don't agree with everything here. But enough of that....

I am not suggesting that you or anyone else on this blog is asking for poligamy rights. What I am saying is that the rationalizations used for the things for which you are asking could equally apply to poligamy. Some of them could also apply equally to NAMBLA's ideas. I certainly am not suggesting that any bloggers on this site are NAMBLA advocates, but some of the arguments here would apply if they were NAMBLA advocates.

So there really is no "slippery slope" about it. The arguments apply NOW. And if the arguments already apply now, then how do you defend against those who do have concerns about the "slippery slope?" I and others keep asking these questions, but no answer ever comes.

Should you and your partner be allowed to share in a health insurance plan? I personally would answer "yes." I would give the same answer to a variety of arrangements that would help draw down the outrageous costs of health insurance. But accordingly, I think we ought to be looking at broader options for that problem, not making it a "gay & lesbian thing." Gays and lesbians are far from the only people dealing with this issue.

But as I have said before on this blog, I think that rational causes like the health insurance one are greatly harmed by the overstepping attempts to redefine marriage, the unsubstantiated claims to "constitutional rights," the vile name-calling like that which started this post, and the inability to answer questions like the ones I've posed above.

Gary and other regulars on this blog know quite a bit about politics. So it is amazing to me that they insist so often on cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Sentence two of SJR 07 is a direct result of that fanaticism. When you call people Nazis, Klanners and other hateful names, you do so at the cost of never being able to work rationally with those people again.

And that is my primary point. When SJR 07 passes the house with a large bi-partisan majority and when voters ratify the amendment by an even larger margin, the gay and lesbian community, to some very large degree, will have nobody to blame more than themselves. You could have had a dialogue, but you chose instead to dismiss rational questions. You could have had some compromise, but you chose instead to overreach beyond common sensibilities. You could have earned some sympathy/empathy, but you chose instead to compare yourself to peoples who have suffered far greater than you. You could have had an audience, but you chose instead to attack with vile name-calling.

LPerdue said...

On a different note, why are so many commentors on this blog afraid to use their names?

Wilson46201 said...

The proud tradition of John Hancock (not the insurance salesman!) has been long lost by the rightwingers of America. The GOP used to be the Party of Personal Responsibility - now it's the party of craven cowardice and irresponsible mudslinging...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Wilson, since you mention the Founding Fathers, have you ever heard of Silence Dogood? Or Publius? Or Brutus? Or Cato? Or even John Winthrop or Richard Saunders or Peter Porcupine? All these and at least a dozen more are part of the proud history of just the most famous of our Founders.

But what's so new about Wilson making an idiot of himself? He is simply not capable of making a rational argument or even staying on point. I know there are others on this site who are much better at that. But let's see how many of them choose instead to hide behind Wilson's idiocy.

Anonymous said...

Right 3:36. We should never blame the lawmakers that have voted to write bigotry and discrimination into the constitution.

Chris Douglas said...

3:36, it is not that we (or ANYone) have a right to marriage... We DO have an explicit Constitutional right to the same privileges and immunities that every other class of citizens enjoy. Read your constitution. The equal protection clause is not some modern concoction; it has been set in place precisely to prevent the majority tendency to legislate against a minority.

Anonymous said...

Even a child molester has the right to get married and reap the benefits thereof.

Anonymous said...

"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Chris Douglas and Anon 5:07 are absolutely correct. Gays, lesbians and even child molestors have the same right to get married as do others in our society. But that's not what you really mean, is it? Your goal is not to get married. It is to refine marriage. And I'll say once again, the arguments you use to claim that "right" would apply equally to poligamists and pedophiles.

If you don't believe that, then try explaining why that is wrong. Again, I think you are incapable of that. All Gary Welsh seems capable of doing is calling people names. All Chris Douglas seems capable of doing is refrencing the line above, with absolutely no rational explanation of how that clause is being violated. And all Wilson seems capable of doing is being his usual moronic self. But alas, I digress...

Anonymous said...

Try this, 5:24, because it's been running through my mind for weeks, since this idiotic debate began anew:

The proposed amendment would deny me, as a partnered gay person, the rights enjoyed by you, or anyone else under our Constitution.

If you wanted to leave current statutes alone, I can live with the law that discriminates against me, crazy though it is.

But proponents of the Amendment want to solodify, through the toughest legal process possible, this blatant and unconstitutional discrimination.

Regardless what I call "it" (I'm not hepped up on the marriage term, but I am solid in support of all rights non-gay persons enjoy), it is constitutionally gauranteed to me. As it now stands. Albeit with contradicting statute...which is troubling.

And proponents want to remove that right. It cannot and should not pass. But it probably will. Sadly.

And I'll move.

Also, sadly.

Anonymous said...

Tagging Senator Long with the Klan's legacy in Indiana is no more rational than tagging Jimmy Carter with the Klan's legacy in Georgia.

It is a non-sequitur.

If marriage is a covenant with God, why does one require a license? What business is it of the government? Perhaps only because it defines a tax status that is only relevant to the ratification of the 16th Amendment?

I think a better solution would be to free us all from the shackles of the 16th amendment through its repeal, and let's have a "FairTax". Then those who lots to spend will give lots to the government as well.