Indiana Bill Watch

If you’re at all curious about the Indiana State Legislature, you may find the Bill Watch section of the state’s website interesting. It posts text of the bills that are currently being considered in the State legislature. You can also search for particular bills if you know the number if them, and do keyword searches. (For fun, try searching on the word “sex”.)

This is how NUVO Newsweekly reporters discovered Pat Miller’s strange, Orwellian bill about unauthorized reproduction. Back in the olden days, when I did some lobbying in the state legislature, you had to go to a room in the Statehouse and look this kind of stuff up, and it was tedious and time-consuming. But it was important to do it, because legislators would hide a lot of anti-gay shit in amendments and bills that were only semi-related, and if you weren’t aware of it, there were a lot of really crappy laws created.

Continue ReadingIndiana Bill Watch

Time on Two Crosses–The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin

My friend Marti passed along this quote from Bayard Rustin, who was a friend of Martin Luther King’s, and who worked alongside him during the civil rights movement:

“Indeed, if you want to know whether today people believe in democracy, if you want to know whether they are true democrats, if you want to know whether they are human rights activists, the question to ask is, ‘What about gay people?’ Because that is now the litmus paper by which this democracy is to be judged.”
“There are four burdens, which gays, along with every other despised group, whether it is blacks following slavery and reconstruction, or Jews fearful of Germany, must address.
The first is to recognize that one must overcome fear.
The second is overcoming self-hate.
The third is overcoming self-denial.
The fourth burden is more political. It is to recognize that the job of the gay community is not to deal with extremist who would castrate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us.
The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly mainifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.”

There are a couple of significant differences in what gay and transgendered people face than other oppressed groups of people. One of them is that our families usually don’t prepare us for the hatred and discrimination that will be directed at us as we grow up, or to help us understand who we are and why we are before we face that hatred. Many time the people who discriminate against us are our own family members, which makes it doubly painful.
The other significant difference in the struggle that gay people face is that much of our history is completely lost to time. We know that gay people have been persecuted, oppressed, tortured and executed for centuries because we have seen the evidence of it in our history books, but only from the view of the persecutors, and very little of it survives from the point of view of gay people.
Other oppressed groups were able to pass history of their people through oral tradition through families and communities, and although that is a fragile method, it’s still significant.

Continue ReadingTime on Two Crosses–The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin

Local FBI spying on vegan groups

In another article about the domestic spying on left-wing organizations, this time from the New York Times, the article mentions in passing:

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a “Vegan Community Project.”

Wow. If they’re spying on vegetarians in Indy, what do you think they’re doing about all those crazy homos? I wonder how to file for the Freedom of Information Act.
UPDATE: Okay, the ACLU press release is a bit clearer on what this is about. Our local FBI was investigating PETA, and one of the group’s events was passing out vegetarian starter kits to students and faculty on the “University of Indiana” campus. (They mean Indiana University.)
Well, I guess that actually isn’t any clearer to me what the FBI was doing.
A link to the redacted PDF document that the ACLU obtained through the FOIA.

Continue ReadingLocal FBI spying on vegan groups

Hate Crime Legislation: A Respectful Response to Common Assertions

I had this article on my site a few years ago while the State legislature was debating the hate crimes legislation. It was written by Chris Douglas. I’m re-posting it because he needed to find it again, and because it’s an informative and well-written piece.
It’s quite long, though, so I’m putting the body of the piece below the jump.

Continue ReadingHate Crime Legislation: A Respectful Response to Common Assertions

Prop 622 passed out of committee; vote to be Monday

Last night, Proposition 622 to amend the Human Rights ordinance passed out of committee by a vote of 5 to 3. It will be voted on in the full committee in a special session on Monday night. I’ll post details of time and room as soon as I hear them. Here are the undecided councilors that need to hear from people before Monday:
Ron Gibson (D)
Patrice Abduallah (D)
Lynn McWhirter (R)
Suzie Day (R)
Marilyn Pfisterer (R) (distant maybe)
Bob Cochrum (R) (distant maybe) 856-5549
Mike Speedy (R) (distant maybe)
We kicked butt last night. The gay community in Indianapolis really rose to the occasion and gave strong testimony and coherent arguments. I found myself saying “that’s a really good point!” on about ten different occasions during testimony.
There were about 2 of our supporters for every one of theirs, and they hauled out the same lame, illogical, irrelevant arguments that they did last week. I’m totally proud of the GLBT community. You’re rock stars, people.
The local media, however, sucked raw eggs. Fox was the only news station that covered the committee hearing well. Channel 6 had lots of coverage; all of it was yellow journalism, showed dis-proportionate speakers. They also kept airing the “there are already laws on the books” argument — there AREN’T laws on the books to cover this. I didn’t see anything on Channel 8, and Channel 13 had a 10 second overview. The IndyStar has a decent article on the issue, but with the completely lame headline: “Gay Rights plan stands chance of passing this time.
IT’S NOT A GAY RIGHTS PLAN. It’s a human rights plan, and the ordinance also has changes for people with disabilities, veterans of any war (not just vietnam) and it also covers STRAIGHT people — making it clear you can’t be fired for any sexual orientation or PERCIEVED sexual orientation. Yes there are straight people fired because people think they’re gay.

Continue ReadingProp 622 passed out of committee; vote to be Monday

Prop 622 information and updates

Your help is needed to get the HRO passed and to stop discrimination.
Task #1 – – Contact your City-County Councillor and tell him/her that discrimination is wrong and that they should support the HRO amendment. Write, call, phone or all three –just do it. Find out who your Councillor is by calling 327-4242 or by going to:
Task #2 – – Attend the Council committee hearing on the HRO amendment on Tuesday, December 13th from 5:00pm to 6:30pm at the City-County Building, 2nd floor. We must pack the house!
Task #3 – – Attend the City-County Council meeting for the HRO amendment on Monday, December 19th at 7:00pm (arrive at 6:30pm) at the City-County Building, 2nd floor Public Assembly Room. We must pack the house! The final vote will be taken this night!
You can park in the lot just east of the City County Building off Market Street downtown for any of these events. Enter the city-county building through the north revolving doors. There is a security pass through, and you’ll be heading upstairs and to your right. There should be a crowd, and it’s fairly obvious where to go.

Continue ReadingProp 622 information and updates

City-Council President Steve Talley backs Prop 622

Thanks to the tireless work of Indiana Equality Region 8 (especially Bil Browning, Jerame Davis, Jeff Newman, Seth Kreigh, Gary Welsh and many others including the folks from Greater Indianapolis Fairness Alliance) in getting information and education about anti-gay descrimination to the city-county council, the president of the council, Steve Talley (D) has decided to vote in favor of Proposition 622 to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s Human Rights Ordinance. This is a great sign for the ordinance, and is a real victory for justice and fairness in Indianapolis.
There’s still a ways to go; a second committee hearing is on Tuesday, and the vote in the full council is coming up soon. For both events, we need everyone possible to attend the meetings at the city-county building downtown (I’ll post directions and parking info before each event). And I need you to attend Tuesday for moral support!
You can thank Steve Talley for working hard to get information and education by talking to GLBT people about their experiences by e-mailing him: While you’re at it, stop by Bilerico and thank them as well.

Continue ReadingCity-Council President Steve Talley backs Prop 622

Last night’s City county council meeting about the HRO

Advance Indiana does an excellent job of narrating the action from last night’s city county council meeting, so I won’t duplicate the effort here.
If you want to see it for yourself, the committee meeting will be broadcast several times on Channel 16, so haul out your TIVO.
I was asked to speak at the council meeting, and I was too freaked out by the idea to do so. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll be speaking about my experiences at the next Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 13th. I’ll need all the moral support I can get, so if you could make it, I’d appreciate it.
Several things that struck me as really interesting: the obviously miserable “ex-gay” couple (notice how they always marry each other so they don’t have to make excuses for why they don’t want to have sex) who testified were strange and heartbreaking. The man, who flamed more than any other gay man I know, actually said that “I can’t guarantee that I won’t slip and fall back into the lifestyle. But I’m here to testify that it can be done.” Um, if there’s a greater indicator that this law is needed than that, it was this:
19 people, most of them ministers and religious people, stood up and testified against the HRO, and every one of them spewed hatred and malice against gay people, and then had the audacity to claim that there’s no real discrimination against gay people and that the laws aren’t needed. It’s was as ironic as if we held a civil rights hearing, and the KKK showed up in their cloaks and testified that black people are 2/3rds of a person, then tried to claim that there’s no discrimination against blacks so civil rights laws are not really needed anyway.
And every single person against Prop 622 invoked the Christian God. So those of you who aren’t Christian — if you’re Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, agnostic or atheist, be aware that your beliefs aren’t important to the city-county council.

Continue ReadingLast night’s City county council meeting about the HRO

Monday December 5th hearing on amending the HRO

I will be at this meeting. Please, please, please come with me, or meet me there. If you’ve never been to the city-county building, it’s very easy to find parking; just east of the building, where Market Square used to stand is a parking lot that charges 3 dollars. You can park there easily. I’ll be running in because it’s after work, but meet me when you get there. Please, whether you’re gay or not, come. It’s so important.
On December 5, 2005 at 5:30pm, the Indianapolis City-County Council will hold a public committee hearing on Proposition 622 [pdf description] – the proposed update to the city’s human rights ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Rules and Public Policy Committee, meeting in the Public Assembly Room (council chambers) will hear testimony on the proposed changes from the community. The meeting will be televised.

Your help is needed!

Attend Monday night’s hearing and ask your friends, family and neighbors to join you. A large public turnout will help ensure the committee’s support.
WHO: City-County Council Rules and Public Policy Committee
WHAT: Proposition 622 public testimony hearing
WHEN: December 5, 2005 5:30pm (arrive early for seating)
WHERE: City-County Building (200 E Washington St – downtown)
Take action now! Take a moment right now to contact the members of the City-County Council and ask them to support equality and fairness for all Marion County citizens.
Or if you’d feel more comfortable contacting councilors directly (just be aware that Patrice Abduallah doesn’t read any of his e-mail):

Continue ReadingMonday December 5th hearing on amending the HRO

Oh, no, they did not go there

According to the IndyStar:

Leaders from a dozen African-American churches held a prayer vigil today in the City-Council building in advance of an upcoming vote on a proposal to protect gays from discrimination — a proposal the church leaders firmly oppose.
Taking turns praying by name for each of the 29 members of the City-County Council, the church leaders asked God to help the elected leaders see the danger in the proposal, which they said threatens the very concept of a family unit.
Calling homosexuality a perverse “lifestyle choice” and an “abomination to God” that demands repentence, the church leaders also voiced anger that gay rights activists have likened their struggle to the civil rights movement.
“It is an offense to black people to be used – that the blood of our fathers and our own blood that was spilled on the pathways to civil rights should be used as a lever to get legal license to make their own choices law,” the Rev. Melvin Jackson, pastor at Christian Love Missionary Baptist Church and a participant in the civil rights marches of the 1960s, said after the vigil.
“I lived in it and it’s a lie. We are the sons and daughters of slaves who were held in chains physically and by the laws so that we could not exercise our will. These are people who can exercise their will, but they must not do it under the guise of civil rights.”
The proposal that would ban discrimination against gays in the workplace and the housing market is scheduled for a vote in mid-December.

Wow. I’m so stunned by the blatant homophobia and bigotry that I can’t even collect my thoughts. Unbelieveable that something so filled with hatred could come from the black community.
Let me repeat it so everyone can hear: YOUR RELIGION IS A CHOICE. It’s protected by the HRO, and it’s a choice — if you choose to be Buddhist, or Hindu, or Muslim, or Christian, or Jewish, it’s protected under the law, but it’s something you choose. I personally worship a giant monkey. And I can, because my choice is protected by the HRO.
My homosexuality on the other hand, is NOT A CHOICE. I didn’t pick it. I wouldn’t change it if I could, any more than any black person would deliberately go out and change the color of their skin. It’s a part of me. But I certainly didn’t choose it, any more than the color of my hair, my height, or any other part of me.
I’ve written this a billion times, and I’m writing it again. What makes me gay isn’t my behavior, it’s my feelings. Homosexuality isn’t about behavior, it’s about who you fall in love with and are attracted to. Choice has nothing to do with it.
Of course I could choose to marry a man and have a monogamous relationship with him for the rest of my life. But that wouldn’t make me heterosexual. That would make me a gay woman in a relationship with a man. A miserable relationship that I hated, he hated, and any children we had hated. It would be a destructive mess to everyone concerned. Want proof of that? If you’re heterosexual, picture yourself in a relationship with someone of your own sex. Think you could make it work? Think you would be happy? I thought not. Thousands of gay people have entered into relationships with someone of the opposite sex and can attest to the destruction and misery it causes.
I’m not even going to go into the “Abomination before God” bullshit, because, as I mentioned, I worship a giant monkey, and I don’t care what they hell these ministers are on about. They certainly shouldn’t be allowed to put their religious bullshit into law. I wonder why they got to have access to the city-county building. Can we get access to hold a prayer vigil in favor of Prop. 622? I want to pray to Hanuman about it.

Continue ReadingOh, no, they did not go there

Indianapolis’ Human Rights Ordinance

If you have a few minutes to write to your city-county councilors asking them to amend the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections (aka Proposition 622), please take some time to do so.
If you’ve been discriminated against, or if you know someone who has (here’s a hint I have) tell them about it and why it’s important to you.
The council needs to hear from you, because the votes to support the proposition aren’t solid, and some councilors are still making up their minds. The right-wing is enlisting support from outside of Indianapolis and Indiana for an email bombing campaign against the change.
Also, take a bit of time to read a couple of responses from councilors. Last year, city countil member Ginny Cain, sent one of her constituents this very telling remark: recounted in full on Advance Indiana: “I will never support something that is meant for destruction of human beings and our civilization.”
And just this morning, Councilor Earl Salisbury, in response to a story from a constituent about discrimination, gave this flippant reply: “So if the laws change does the abuse stop? No more suicides? Promise?”
Yes, including GLBT rights in the HRO will help prevent suicides. It will improve the quality of life for GLBT people, who will be less depressed as a result. The high suicide rate among gay and lesbian and transgendered people is because they suffer from discrimination, not because they are gay or transgendered. The way to reduce the suicide rate is to end the discrimination, and passing Prop. 622 is the first step in doing so.
Another good reason to pass to pass Prop 622 — preventing the massive brain drain that is currently going on in the state of Indiana, by making the state more attractive to people like me — technical people that the city is spending money hand over fist to attract to the city.
Tell the council about your professional field, and how passing the ordinance would make you feel about remaining in the state.

Continue ReadingIndianapolis’ Human Rights Ordinance

Show Up Monday Night for the Re-Introduction of the Human Rights Ordinance

From Pepper Partin:

Did you know that walking from your car to the Indianapolis City-County Building will burn 1 million calories? Enjoy a guiltless Thanksgiving and look great in your new holiday wear this year by attending the City-County Council meeting this Monday night. Why? In addition to burning calories so your body will be in a much-needed holiday calorie deficit, you will be showing support for the re-introduction of Prop 622 – the proposal that will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO). The added language will make discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal in the areas of housing and employment. Council member Jackie Nytes plans to re-introduce Prop 622 just in time for you to get that Madonna-like body prior to filling up on turkey or tofurkey or whatever macrobiotic diet followers eat on Thanksgiving.

When: Monday, November 21st at 6:30 (be there a little earlier if you can)
Where: City-County Building downtown Indianapolis – (across the street from the City Market) Beurt Servaas Public Assembly Room

As you may know, The HRO was defeated earlier in the year when Eric Miller and Advance America led a campaign against the added language just days before the Council vote. The campaign was successful albeit unethical since Miller called upon his cronies outside of Marion County and even outside of the state to barrage the Council with e-mails and phone calls. His campaign worked, and we can’t let it happen again! If Indianapolis wants to claim that it is a world class city, our City-County Council will need to prove it by following the lead of Daniels, Brizzi and Peterson.

The road to a second vote on Prop 622 may take several weeks and Rock Indiana, along with other organizations, will be calling on YOU to help. It will take all of us to win this battle. So pay attention to calls to action as the entire community will be needed. But let’s start with Monday night.

The Council will not be voting on Prop 622 or even hearing testimony Monday. And that’s the beauty. All you have to do is stand in unison with the Indianapolis/Marion County GLBT community and other fair-minded Hoosiers. You’ll look great doing it since you will have that just-worked-out rosey glow. So show up Monday night along with HUNDREDS who support Prop 68 and know that you can enjoy a guiltless holiday and you’ll look fabu.

Don’t let Eric Miller and other right wing radicals win this time!

A special Rock Indiana thank you to Jackie Nytes for her support and to the Greater Indianapolis Fairness Alliance and IE-Region 8 for their INCREDIBLE work on getting this before the Council again.

Continue ReadingShow Up Monday Night for the Re-Introduction of the Human Rights Ordinance