Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Daniels Defends EEO Policy on Christian Radio: Miller's Motives Revealed

Governor Mitch Daniels fought back against the false and hate-filled, bigoted assault on his administration's EEO Policy in a one-on-one interview with Christian radio station, WFRN, in Elkhart. WFRN news director, Don Wagner, reported today that Governor Daniels said he's "against discrimination and that people who are hired and fired should be done so based only on their job performance, not on their private lifestyle." Daniels pointed out that his policy is "word-for-word the same employment policy under the Joe Kernan administration." The American Family Association of Indiana under the leadership of Micah Clark has launched a full frontal assault on the policy since its enactment in April. Clark has made various untrue assertions about the policy, even suggesting Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman from Massachusetts, is opposed to Governor Daniel's policy.

Based upon WFRN's reporting of the interview, the Governor did not move the Christian station's news director. In reference to the policy the station reported that "Daniels signed an Equal Employment Opportunity policy that two state pro-family groups feel gives special rights to homosexuals, cross-dressers and men who consider themselves women and women who live as men." Unfortunately, words attributed to Governor Daniels in defense of his policy were not helpful. Daniel's use of "private lifestyle" to describe someone's sexual orientation or identity is offensive to the GLBT community because it implies that a person chooses their sexual orientation or identity. If it were truly a choice, a person could change who they are. As has been pointed out previously by Advance Indiana, every major medical organization has long since recognized that homosexuality is a normal, natural, and fixed sexual orientation. The use of "life style" choice by the Governor only weakens his argument for the policy. The choice argument is always asserted by those who condemn homosexuality and who support laws which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or identity.

WFRN also revealed in its news report today that Advance America intends to join the American Family Association of Indiana in launching a campaign against Daniel's EEO policy during the next week. While Micah Clark has been very vocal in his opposition to Daniel's EEO policy, Advance America's Eric Miller has been noticeably quiet. That Miller has decided to step into the fray in a public way suggests to Advance Indiana that Miller intends to face off against Governor Daniels in a re-match for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2008. Miller was routed by Governor Daniels in the 2004 primary election, but Miller is not detoured. Since losing that campaign, Miller has maintained an active campaign committee he originally formed in 2001 to run for Governor. According to his latest filings with the Indiana Elections Division, the committee Hoosiers for Miller had cash on hand in the amount of $511,509.66 as of the end of last year. Miller could use these funds to aid other like-minded candidates for office, or he could hold on to the funds and apply them to a 2008 campaign for governor.

Miller's and Clark's decisions to take on Daniel's EEO policy is particularly noteworthy since both men and their organizations remained totally silent when both the late Governor Frank O'Bannon and his successor, Governor Joe Kernan, had enacted identical EEO policies. This is a clear signal that the two are prepared to contest Daniel's re-election efforts. Both were upset by Governor Daniel's initial call for a temporary income tax on persons making more than $100,000. And the debate over the I-69 expansion through southern Indiana remains a major issue which Miller exploited to attract unlikely support from environmentalists in his unsuccessful 2004 campaign for governor.

Advance Indiana is pleased that Governor Daniel's has the courage to walk into the "lion's den" to support his EEO policy of non-discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgendered persons. He should, however, in the future choose his words more carefully so as not to offend the very community he rightfully has chosen to defend, and to avoid providing more fodder for those who oppose his policy.

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