Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jill Long-Thompson Backs Civil Unions

In a surprising but bold move, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson announced this afternoon during a joint appearance with her primary opponent, Jim Schellinger, she supports civil unions for same-sex couples. Like her opponent, the former U.S. representative said she opposed SJR-7, the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and other similar rights for unmarried couples. '

Schellinger told an audience of nearly 200 at today's HPR Forum he supports Indiana's current Defense of Marriage law defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He believes SJR-7 is unnecessary and sends a message of intolerance. Thompson's position sets her distinctly apart from Schellinger and Gov. Mitch Daniels, neither of whom supports civil unions.

It will be interesting to see whether this emerges as an issue during her primary bid against the better-funded Schellinger. Religious right groups, like the AFA and Advance America, will predictably jump all over Thompson for her bold announcement today. Her position could help her garner support from Indiana's GLBT community, particularly in the state's more urban regions, but it could hamper her efforts in the state's rural areas.

The candidates also staked out their position on abortion today. Thompson unabashedly stated her support for the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Schellinger's position was a little less clear. He said his faith teaches him abortion is wrong and he is against it personally , but he believes our current laws should be enforced. It's a position which gives him some wiggle room.

6 comments:

Friendly Critic said...

Very interesting, Gary. As you know, there is a significant legal dispute concerning how SJR7 would deal with civil unions. Advance America, AFA, and IFI insist that as written it would still permit the legislature to pass such laws although judges couldn't. But there is a whole body of evidence and reasoning, some of it involving the development of the Federal Marriage Amendment, from which SJR7 was closely patterned, showing that conservative legal scholars drafting it sharply differed on that important matter of state legislative power. That's why, after Bork testified before Congress that it had been "poorly drafted", it got changed to make it clear that state legislatures like Indiana's could do so. But guess what? That change didn't get into SJR7, and sponsors have adamantly to change it in either the 2005 or 2007 sessions. End result? Proponets are pushing someting even their own "experts" disagree on. Now that it appears that whoever is the Democrat condidate supports civil unions, the sponsors are no longer going to be able to avoid talking about this "inconvenient truth". And some Republicans may feel they weren't levelled with by the sponsors. Hopefully the mainstream media will pay more attention this time around.

Friendly Critic said...

Minor correction: I said both condidates support civil unions. On reading your post again I see that Schellenger doesn't. But Thompson's support will still give more visibility to the legal deficiencies in SJR7.

Anonymous said...

Critic, I read your first post three times and I'm confused.

I was around during the SJR7 nonsense earlier this year. Nowhere did I see AA, AFA or IFI indiczte that civil unions would still be allowed. Quite the contrary. I even engaged Eric Miller in a Statehouse discussion for about ten minutes, before the genius figured out I was not supportive of his cause. I asked a few questions, and listened. His responses were flat-out amazing...pander is a light definition of his stance.

Jill has taken a bold step. I hope it doens't kill her in more rural areas of Indiana.

She's also done what few politicians have been able to do: she took away the term "marriage" from the debate. Kinda lets the air out of the balloon, huh?

It was a bold move. We'll see if it's brilliant.

And we'll see how long it takes Indiana Equality to take credit for her move.

Anonymous said...

Schellinger's abortion position is hard to explain in a sound bite, but is one that is probably shared by a large number of moderate Democrats and Republicans alike. But, try to explain that to the right wing or far left folks who make lots of money on making abortion a black or white issue.

Anonymous said...

Abortion hasn't been a state issue for two decades.

This goofy US Supreme Court is likely to continue to keep the issue within their purview.

Friendly Critic said...

To Anonymous 6:07 am: I suspect that you are confused because there are some conservative organizations such as the Concerned Women of America, that were very, very upset when the Federal Marriage Amendment was changed to make it clear that state legislatures would retain the authority to create civil unions. So likely if you heard Eric Miller say that SJR7 would still allow such legislation, it was to attempt to satisfy that section of the Republican base. But on the other hand, Sue Swayzee of the Indiana Family Institute has insisted, on more than on occasion on their blogsite, Veritas Rex, the opposite of what Eric Miller told you. The debate continues. And to those who would say "big deal, the Indiana General Assembly isn't about to go for civil unions, anyway", the whole thing is bigger than that: it goes to SJR7's impact on the General Assembly's lawmaking authority on anything that looks, walks, or smells like a "legal incident of marriage", as if anybody really knows what that undefined term means, either.