Monday, March 26, 2007

GOP Ain't Got Nothing Over Intolerance Of Some Indiana Democrats

Many Democrats who support equal rights for gays say it is important that you vote blindly for the Democratic candidates over their GOP opponents. But here in Indiana, it is often the case that Democrats are as anti-gay as their Republican counterparts. An article from the Madison Courier today illustrates this point. Donovan Estridge writes:

Local state lawmakers agreed that traditional marriage between a man and a woman should be protected, thus a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage should be implemented.

With people around the state divided on the issue, both Rep. Dave Cheatham, D-North Vernon, and Sen. Jim Lewis, D-Charlestown, told a sparsely attended Third House session Saturday that they will support an amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples."

Marriage is sacred," Cheatham said. "For thousands of years, marriage has been the center of the family.""I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman,"

Lewis said. "I don't think people should be punished, but we need to set a definition."

Lewis' statement that he doesn't think "people should be punished, but we need to set a definition" is laughable. Sen. Lewis had an opportunity to pass a version of SJR-7 which merely set a definition, but he did not support such an amendment proposed by Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) when SJR-7 was in the Senate. Opponents have clearly demonstrated that the second paragraph of SJR-7 goes far beyond a definition of marriage in limiting the rights of unmarried couples, whether straight or gay. Lewis' claim that he doesn't intend to punish people simply doesn't hold water. Rep. Cheatham relies on the old adage that "marriage is sacred" to defend his bigotry against gays. Just for once I would like someone who relies on that adage to explain how the institution of marriage is any way bolstered by this proposed amendment. And it is clear from what Cheatham had to say that he is completely ignoring the overwhelming evidence offered at last week's hearing about the problems SJR-7 will create. The Courier reports:

Cheatham, however, countered with another school of thought, telling the audience that he wasn't trying to prevent people from losing benefits, but trying to define marriage.

"Let's not attach marriage to these rights," Cheatham said.

Though Cheatham doesn't think that same-sex couples would lose out on benefits, other people disagree. Last week, three prominent Indiana businesses came out against the amendment, saying that employees would lose out on health insurance and other perks. One of those businesses was Cummins Inc., which spoke out because many believe that the recruiting drive to attract workers would be hurt if the amendment passes.

Cheatham and Lewis don't foresee Hoosiers losing health care because of a marriage amendment."Everyone has a right to health care," Cheatham said, referring to heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Democrats in the district of the late Sen. Anita Bowser chose a tired-old former sheriff to take her place in the Senate rather than a more progressive candidate who would have shared Bowser's views on issues of equality. Democrats chose former LaPorte County sheriff Jim Arnold over Deb Birkholz by just one vote. While Birkholz' positions would have likely mirrored Bowser's positions on social equality, Arnold is more likely to join the likes of Sen. Lewis and Senate Minority Leader Richard Young in casting votes down the line with the religious right and against social equality.


Obob said...

When is this vote coming up? I would ask about the voting progression by House to Sentae etc, but I'll do my own homework. Are there websites aganist this? I am not trolling, I am pro-gay marriage.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I thought the Rule Committee was supposed decide whether to amend/pass it out of committee this week.

Anonymous said...

Bowser's legacy is wiped out just like that. She would roll over in her grave if she knew this was who her party chose to take her place.

Anonymous said...

This whole article strikes me as a naive effort in wishful thinking. True, Cheatham is intolerant when it comes to gay marriage. But no one was presented with the choice between Cheatham and Jon Elrod - or David Orentlicher. The choice was between Cheatham and Billy Bright...and compared to Billy Bright, Cheatham is a flaming liberal.

And aside from the specific personalities, with D's you get the D leadership. Who are not as supportive as they could be, but are much better than the alternative, and who may be just good enough to at least delay, if not stop, SJR-7. Compare and contrast the results of the hearing in senate judiciary with house rules if you want to see what the D leadership means. (Not that the senate's hearing wasn't done in a respectful manner, but the outcome was a foregone conclusion.)

So, yeah, not every D is a model of liberal tolerance. But - if you want to actually affect policy - you have to deal realistically with the realistic pool of legislators. And neither David O. nor Jon E. would have stood a snowball's chance in hell of being elected in the N. Vernon district. So what are you going to do? I think you choose the lesser of two evils. And stop pretending that there was another alternative.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Ironically, Peter, that district used to be represented by a gay Democrat. I don't believe he was open about it though. He is still very active and played an important role in Cheatham's election.

Anonymous said...

The former rep you mentioned is a friend, and he is out, has been for 15 years or so, and everyone knows it. Business owner, strong local family ties, etc.

When he heard about Bauer's September Surprise, he weighed in with Pat.

As it turned out, his efforts to elect Cheatham gave Pat the majority. Mostly because Bauer's cronies chose not to fund some races they should've. (Hile, etc.)

The former rep mentioned here did more to push the right position with Bauer, than IE did.

Very sad.

And Lewis, well...he's been a fat silly slob content being in a distinct minority for over 20 years. That kinda says it all.

He will not be attending any Mensa meetings soon. Everyone knows that. On complicated bills, he needs help on his votes. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

The Rules Committee will likely vote this week. Eric Miller's band of merry minions is at the Statehouse today.

The best websites for full information on these issues are and