Bil Browning

Some Thoughts for the New Year

Filed By Bil Browning | January 08, 2006 5:26 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement

The HRO has been passed, in a process of earning, obtaining, and solidifying yes votes. The victory is sweet, and constitutes an outright defeat of the worst of humanity. To the names of Eric Miller and Micah Clark, we can add Cain, Schneider, and Bradford as the purest representatives of bigotry. religious and otherwise, in Indiana. But this victory is a minor battle, and everyone, whether in the gay community or outside it, has a responsiblility to press forward to ensure that its significance is enhanced, not lost.

Below I offer thoughts on what I believe are the obligations of members of the gay community, and our allies, including coming out of the closet pro-actively in Indianapolis (and elsewhere) and supporting Indiana Equality financially.

The Human Rights Ordinance applies to Indianapolis, which I believe to be among the most tolerant cities in Indiana. Still, its passage is the result of gays, lesbians, and transgendered people outing themselves professionally and politically in circumstances under which no legal protections extisted. I know many of these people to have acted courageously, stretching their own necks forward to stop injustice against others, risking in some instances the rejection of family and in other instances calumny in the workplace. Some have sacrificed considerably to make their contributions to the general welfare.

It's time for everyone in the community to understand our personal calling, that we explore ways and find opportunities to out ourselves proactively to family, to old friends, to neighbors, and to colleagues. The HRO provides some protection, but even yet there may be sacrifice. Soon enough, the community around us will face a choice: whether to alienate us from the law and the Indiana consitution permanently by affirming the disgraceful Marriage Amendment and denying our families any of the protections of civil marriage. If the community around us is going to be motivated to stop the amendment, they're going to have to know who we are on a personal level. That means you have a personal responsibility, circumstances permitting, to out yourself as a member of the community.

Similarly, I know some important people and entities "outed" themselves, not as gays, but as supporters of our rights. With their increasingly vocal private and public stands, we were able to obtain the support of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Indianapolis Star, the Indianapolis Business Journal, and leading employers in Indiana. Some allies risked their own business standing by making bold statements that could only anger the far right, stands of courage and risk that gays and straights alike have an obligation to match by speaking vocally for our rights. For Hoosier who are not members of the GLBT community, that means coming out as publicly as possible in opposition to attempts to pass the amendment to the state constitution which does so much damage to glbt families.

Passage of the HRO required an intense amount of organization and coordination... of meetings... of contacts... of information... It required faith in the ability to make change happen in Indiana, focus on making that change, talent, and money, all to make up for the fact most people can't step away from their worksites when critical action is required.

In my view, we have obligation to ourselves and to the national community to make change happen in Indiana... and indeed, in my view, we can do no more to support change nationally than we do through our determination to make change happen in Indiana. Support to our homegrown organizations, in my opinion, exceeds in priority and effectiveness support for missions and organizations outside the state of Indiana. Indeed, as action on marriage nationally has proven, we here suffer in Indiana if we are advancing causes beyond our borders without getting our homework done here.

Indiana Equality is a state-wide coalition of outstanding organizations, represented locally by Region 8 of Indiana Equality. In my opinion, the success or failure of this coalition of organizaitons is inseparable from the success or failure of the legislative interests of the glbt community in Indiana.

I urge everyone to go to the folllowing link and give generously to Indiana Equality:

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