Bil Browning

Her Other Gay Friends

Filed By Bil Browning | November 15, 2005 1:19 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts

I spoke yesterday on the phone with Marilyn Pfisterer, a Republican City-County Councilor from the west side of Indianapolis. While the conversation was very courteous and polite, I have to admit that I ended the conversation feeling confused and exasperated.

It wasn't that Ms. Pfisterer wasn't likable. Not at all. She might be a Republican, but I have it on very good authority that she's "good people." And I must say, she's a lot more sensible than the foam-at-the-mouth councilor that is known for sending out vitriolic emails... Which, I think, made me more irritated that our conversation was veering off the 'ole reality path and into what I like to call, "bullcrap."

I'd called Ms. Pfisterer to disuss the upcoming human rights ordinance for the city of Indianapolis. As a learned woman, I planned on her arguments against the ordinance to be well thought out and reasoned. I quickly realized my mistake. Again, not that the conversation was heated or demeaning - just that her reason for not voting for the ordinance was a little - shall we say - juvenile?

She stated right away that she wouldn't be voting in favor of the ordinance. When I asked her why not, she said, "Morality can't be legislated." Apparently, the protections afforded to African-Americans should be tossed aside... "You need to change people's hearts and minds," she said. "Then you'll be able to stop discrimination."

I pointed out to her that anti-discimination laws were intended to discourage discrimination by providing penalties for the behavior. (Maybe cases like this should just be thrown out of court...) I suggested that anti-black discrimination was a lot more blatant and pervasive before they were given civil rights protections.

She agreed. "But you can tell if someone is black. I can't tell if someone is gay until they tell me," she countered.

While I think there is a credible argument that not all black folks are dark skinned, I let it go. I asked her instead how to pick out someone who was Presbyterian. After all, religion is covered in current civil rights laws - and if the criteria is that the difference has to be noticeable, suddenly religious protections are out the door. "Not only that," I pointed out, "but it's a chosen lifestyle. You choose to be Methodist or Buddhist or agnostic." And what about those women who act a little butch and look almost man-like? Are they suddenly exempt from sex discrimination cases - since they don't "look" female? Is a light skinned African American suddenly not able to claim race discrimination? How about someone who's disabled mentally but has no physical deformities or outward signs of a disability?

Logic, however, was to no avail. Ms. Pfisterer remained adamant about her position.

I was struck though by how reasoned and compassionate Ms. Pfisterer remained during the conversation. "I'm not anti-gay," she commented frequently. "I have gay friends."

Perhaps it's appropriate that Ms. Pfisterer hear from other LGBT residents of Indianapolis - her other gay friends. You can call her at (317) 244-7156. Let her know that you live in Indianapolis and want her to vote in favor of the upcoming human rights ordinance. Please be polite and not confrontational. We have a chance at swinging this vote - but anger and harsh words won't affect that change. Tell her why it's so important to you and your family. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did...

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