Here is the text of my speech from the Rally on Thursday. I dispute the tally given on Advance Indiana's blog-- the total atttendance was closer to 400. I was very proud to see that nearly 10% of that came from the Lafayette area-- including a lot of proud Boilers wearing their school sweatshirts.
Indiana Equality Rally - "Our Families Count" Feb 9, 2006 Indiana State House
I rise to speak to you today on behalf of Lafayette's Citizens for Civil Rights and the statewide coalition -- Indiana Equality. Indiana Equality was founded to achieve non-discrimination language in the state civil rights code. These protections are already in place in Lafayette, West Lafayette, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Michigan City and Tippecanoe County. We firmly believe that the Hoosier state will join the states where one cannot be fired from a job, lose one's housing, or be denied public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity
And yet, my friends, it is with a heavy heart, that I stand before you today. In the past two years, the People's House has been used to promote an agenda designed to hurt our neighbors, our friends and most of all -- our families.
Every year there is an attack on gay adoptions. Last fall Senator Miller proposed a punitive bill to severely control artificial insemination for unmarried persons, and it's back this Spring. And last year the General Assembly passed Senator Hershman's SJR7--the Marriage Discrimination amendment-- which would enshrine second-class citizenship in our state Constitution. These attempts strike at the very core of our families-- they restrict our ability to protect and support those we love.
And for those who believed these attacks would not affect us all, two weeks ago Representative Thompson tried to strip local Human Relations Commissions from their ability to provide protection to gays, lesbians and transgendered Hoosiers. The hard work of thousands wiped from the books by one state representative backed by Eric Miller's anti-gay Advance America.
This is a full-scale war, my friends! It is not just one effort against us, but an all-out attempt to make us second-class Hoosiers. And we will NOT stand for this treatment any more! (This portion was quoted on Channel 8 WISH TV.)
All Hoosiers should fear these attacks on our community-- for if one person is not free, all are oppressed. But as LGBT citizens, we should not just be fearful -- we should be ANGRY at the forces behind these attacks. They are totally committed to this fight. They have amassed millions of dollars and will put bodies on the line against our families -- against you and me. They will try to convince average Hoosiers through scare tactics that our community is alien or perverse-- that WE are somehow not like them- not Hoosier enough --when it is THEY who endanger the goals of equality and justice represented by this very House.
I don't know about you, but my family has been here for five generations, serving the community, contributing time and treasure to our fellow citizens. I have dedicated my own life to educating generations of Hoosiers. I am NOT a second-class citizen. Regardless of how they may try to punish us, I will NOT be moved!
As I look at this crowd today, I see the chief reasons why I continue this fight. I see the future of Indiana--from high school to college students-- from Purdue, Indiana, Ball State, IUPUI, Butler, IVY Tech. We have some of the brightest, best-educated and most talented young Hoosiers in this hall today. These youth are the Brain Drain-- they will leave our economy with their innovation and knowledge, their skills gained and honed in our state institutions, because they will no longer stand to live in a state which punishes them for who they love-- for who they are. I can't blame them. I challenge all of us to work for the day when Indiana will be a welcoming diverse state--where everyone's contributions are judged based on merit and not sexual orientation or gender identity.
As we gather on this historic day in this place to bring our petitions before the General Assembly, I am reminded of a story from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 18. There was a poor widow who appealed to a corrupt judge for justice. She had neither money nor prestige, but she was in the right. The judge neither feared God nor repected his fellow human beings, but eventually he was worn down by this simple woman-- daily pleading for the justice she so deserved. My friends, it is just this persistence that will bring about the justice we seek. We must constantly be ready to rise to the issue and fight back. We must inform our neighbors and co-workers and enlist them in our struggle. But most of all, we must take these issues to the legislators themselves-- whether our allies or our greatest foes. Believe me, I know about foes-- Senator Hershman is my senator!
Today, when we leave this hall -- we must march up those stairs -- and visit our state senators and representatives. It's not hard to do-- you simply go to the desk outside the chamber, fill out the form, and most of you will find your legislator willing to talk with you. And if not, report that back home. Be polite-- listen to the issues we discuss today-- be prepared to share your personal story. Your best weapon is who you are-- a citizen of the great state of Indiana-- and a contributing member of our society. Most of all, remind them that you vote -- and you are watching their actions.
One more note -- we must be informed and ready to spring into action-- as thousands of Hoosiers did against the Thompson amendment last month. The Lafayette area alone sent hundreds of e-mails and calls to Representative Joe Micon in less than 24 hours - more than any other issue this session--including the time change! If you have not already done so, I urge you to sign up on the Indiana Equality website - (information is at the back of the hall.) Pass this along to your potential allies at home-- your family, your friends, your neighbors. We will not win this struggle alone. This affects all Hoosiers.
In this atrium today, I see gathered the leaders of Indiana's GLBT and Allied community from across the state. YOU can help secure success against the threats to our families. My friends, it is a sacrifice to resist our opponents. Yet we will sacrifice more by not resisting -- we will lose our hope of equal citizenship. So, fight we must! But this cause needs each and every one of you to make a personal commitment. We must dedicate our effort, our time and our money to defeating laws which seek to roll back progress in Indiana. Indiana Equality is dedicated to that progress.
In this great struggle, there will be one winner-- justice. And Lady Justice stands in the rotunda of this great House with History on OUR side.
So, the question today is: Will you be part of the force to push back the darkness of ignorance and hate? Or will you stay on the sidelines?
I urge you to join Indiana Equality, because our families count!