Bil Browning

Two Strikes You're Out?

Filed By Bil Browning | July 31, 2005 10:16 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality

In the past year two political events have stirred the Indianapolis GLBT community more than anything I have seen since I became involved with GayIndy.Org, which was in late 2002.

The first was the Indiana General Assembly's passage of the so-called marriage amendment to the Indiana State constitution, and the second was the defeat of a measure introduced in the Indianapolis Marion County Council to amend the city's Human Rights Ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the laundry list of people protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and education.

While in completely different areas of government (one is a state constitutional matter, the other a city-county ordinance), they do have some things in common, aside from the fact that they obviously both affect the GLBT community.

For one, each of these measures will again see legislative action. In the case of the constitutional amendment, per Indiana's constitutional amendment process, it must pass a separately elected general assembly before it goes to the voters. It is is assumed this will happen in late 2007 or early 2008 prior to the 2008 general election.

The amendment to the human rights ordinance is simply not dead yet. It has vigorous and determined sponsors on the city-council, and it is anticipated that it will be introduced again in the fall of this year.

But there is one other thing these pieces of legislation have in common that may raise a few readers' eyebrows: both of these measures received votes, and in at least one case a speech was given, by closeted gay people on their respective legislative bodies, and they voted on the side of GLBT opponents.

Of course, the existence of closet queer lawmakers is not exactly stunning news. The US congress has had an active whisper mill for decades (one that currently includes at least two Hoosiers that I know of), and some high-profile members of congress have been outed, or more commonly have come out on their own, usually under threat of an outing due to their anti-gay posturing.

So how does one explain why gay Indiana state and city lawmakers would vote to the detriment of their own community? Are they self-loathing queers who believe that they and their GLBT brothers and sisters are not deserving of anything more than second-class citizenship? Or are they hypocrites whose concern for their own political asses is much greater than their concern for their community?

I'll go with answer B.

I can already hear the next question: will be naming these people? No, not likely, and it has nothing to do with any moral issue I have with outing people. I do believe that coming out is an intensely personal decision, but as far as I'm concerned, public figures who choose to be hypocrites do so at their own peril.

The reason I'm not likely to name names is I just don't want the hassle. Any of these folks can vehemently deny their gayness, and how could I prove otherwise? I'm sure not going to follow these idiots around with a camera waiting for them to step out.

But if I were these legislators and was planning to vote the same in round two, I would be pretty damned nervous. They are facing an increasingly angry GLBT community whose tolerance for hypocrisy is at an all-time low.

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