Friday, April 13, 2007

Tully: Amendment Proponents To Blame For Its Defeat

"They crafted a confusing, mean-spirited piece of legislation, and now they're fuming because it won't be embedded into the Indiana Constitution," writes Star political columnist Matt Tully. Tully offers this blunt and precise assessment of why SJR-7 got voted down. Taking a swipe at the proponents of the discriminatory amendment, Tully refers to them as the "morality mafia" and observes that the amendment's demise hasn't made room for "other issues in these last days of the session" as he and others had hoped. Tully takes a look at the ad campaign the American Family Association PAC launched against Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson), as well as radio spots being aired by the Family Research Council:

Instead of that fantasy, amendment supporters are now bashing Terri Austin, an Anderson Democrat who opposes gay marriage but tearfully rejected the overreaching language in the amendment last week.

Amendment supporters are mad at Austin. They should be furious with themselves.

In their zeal to bash anything gay, they pushed a measure that scared many people who read it straight. In a homophobic tizzy, backers tried to push into the state's most sacred legal document words that, for starters, could have prevented prosecutors from pursuing domestic violence cases.

Plain and simple, the folks who most wanted the constitutional amendment crafted a technically flawed piece of legislation. You don't put technically flawed pieces of legislation in the Indiana Constitution.

Still, the ads have arrived.

"Terri Austin has betrayed the will of the people of the state," a gloomy radio spot from the Family Research Council says. A newspaper ad has similar words.

It's no surprise Austin is being targeted. Next year's battle for the House is going to be fierce, and her critics believe this will be a good issue.

Instead of blaming Austin, Tully thinks the proponents should be looking in the mirror at themselves. "It's funny to see amendment backers fume." "Because if they'd stuck with the measure's first sentence -- 'Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman.' -- it would have passed." "Instead, they pushed too far, spitefully tossing in a tortured second sentence many feared could hurt domestic partner benefits as well as domestic violence cases." "They lost." "A week later, they pout." "The ads are the first of many to warn that marriage is crumbling as an institution because we didn't ratify schoolyard bullying of gay Hoosiers."

Tully thinks House Democrats had to choose from two bad choices coming into the debate. "They could anger some voters by spiking the amendment or they could irritate others by endorsing it," he suggested. "With no good political option, Austin and her colleagues did the right thing," he concludes. "They killed a mean-spirited, unnecessary and poorly written piece of legislation -- no matter what the ads say."

And the Star's business section has more on how the adoption of SJR-7 could have hurt the state's image from a business perspective. Quoting Emmis Communications' CEO Jeff Smulyans, Erika Smith writes:

"How does the old saying go? When you land in Indiana, set your watch back 20 years," said Jeff Smulyan, chairman and chief executive of Emmis Communications Corp., which owns radio stations around the world. "Hopefully, we can show we're more inclusive than people think."

Job recruiters and tourism officials see value in appearing inclusive, in touting diversity. They say Indiana's economic future depends on it.

They want to attract gays and lesbians, as well as women, blacks and Hispanics, as tourists and employees. But recruiters and tourism officials say they are fighting an uphill battle of negative perceptions.

Last week, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage failed in the Indiana General Assembly. Five of the state's largest employers had urged its demise. It remains to be seen whether the defeat will bolster Indiana's image among gays, lesbians and other minorities.

The state already has plenty of strikes against it.

"Indiana is not New York. It's not Boston. It's not a big city. There are things that make Indiana a more difficult sell," said Mark Land, spokesman for Columbus-based engine maker Cummins. "You don't need anything additional working against you."

Cummins, Emmis, Eli Lilly and Co., WellPoint and Dow AgroSciences all came out publicly against the amendment, saying it would make it harder for them to recruit employees.

"Any company that competes in a global economy has got to be as inclusive," Smulyan said.

Naturally, Gas City's Rep. Eric Turner, a same-sex marriage amendment proponent tells Smith the business argument is "bogus." "He said only five of the state's 250,000 companies spoke up," Smith writes.


Wilson46201 said...

One Indiana Eli Lilly plant alone probably has more employees than the entire population of Gas City !

Anonymous said...

Tully correctly describes describes SJR7 as mean-spirited. From all I've read and heard,Turner, Hershman, Miller, Clark, Smith are truly mean people and SJR7 is a reflection of their inherent cruelty. The worst thing is, they are imposing their cruelty and meanness in the name of God. Surely, there is a special Hell for people who harm others in the name of religion but fail to follow the lesson Jesus taught us in his Sermon on the Mount: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Wilson46201 said...

It seems to me that the whole point of the 2nd sentence of SJR7 was to prohibit absolutely any form of civil unions for lesbians or gays that might be devised in the future in Indiana. The proponents of SJR7 were too cowardly to admit their mean-spirited real purpose -- their evasions cost them their prize (if only temporarily).

Anonymous said...

They did, in fact, articulate that they wanted to prevent civil unions. For quite some time, Eric Miller added "and civil unions" when he was speaking or writing about the amendment. He did this every time, without fail.

When he realized that saying that was not helping his cause, he stopped. But nothing whatsoever changed in the intent.

SJR-7, with its now-infamous "Part B," was intentionally and undeniably crafted to prevent and sort of civil unions, or for that matter, any legal recognition whatsoever of same-sex relationships. It was written to forever tie the hands of the same legislature that Hershman, Turner, and Bosma so poorly serve.

Anonymous said...

WE need more of those 250,000 companies to step forward, along with the universities to grow up and face these people down.

This is round one of the 2007-08 General Assembly, and Brandt and Boz have already shown that they intend to bully even our biggest employers when they dare to disagree with the WingNut agenda.

And the worst thing we can have would be a Clark, Smith, Miller klaque who is able to change their words to make them sound less "mean". I'd rather face down a mean loud-mouthed open bigot, than one who sells his snake oil in a suit and a smile.