Bil Browning

Blogger lunch with Evan Bayh

Filed By Bil Browning | May 22, 2006 5:57 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Site News
Tags: Evan Bayh, gay marriage, gay rights, Indiana, LGBT rights, marriage amendment, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

Bilerico was fortunate enough to be invited to Evan Bayh's luncheon for Hoosier bloggers. Jerame Davis, Linda Perdue and I attended for while Jennifer Wagner, another bilerico contributor, also attended but on behalf of her own blog, Taking Down Words. (It's okay - we won't hold it against her!)

As blogging has become a more and more respected outlet for news and information in the Hoosier state, it's spectacular to see a bright politician like Senator Bayh seek to use the new medium to his advantage. It was also great to finally be able to meet a few of our contemporaries like Melissa from Shakespeare's Sister and Zach from Indiana Blog Review. (Yes, I have to admit it's true - I've been a fan of Shakespeare's Sister for a looong time. If you don't know them - go. Now. Oh, wait. Read this post first. Then go.)

I was impressed when I realized that out of the dozen or so questions Bayh was asked, at least three (or 1/4) were about LGBT issues. Linda and I both asked questions about constitutional amendments to outlaw same-sex marriage while Gary Welsh from Advance Indiana asked a question about Iraq's persecution of it's LGBT citizens. I'll let Linda post about Bayh's answer to her question about the federal amendment - and I'm sure Gary will post about his question as well. (But for now, he has up a post with pictures of the lunch. You can kinda see Linda, Jerame, Jennifer and I in the last picture of everyone - starting with the second from the left. Linda is in green on the left, I'm next also wearing green, while Jerame is leaning in to talk to us wearing blue. Jennifer is sitting around the bend of the table in red.)

Unfortunately, I can't report any good news on Bayh's answer to my question "What are your thoughts on the state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana?" Simply put, he hedged. I got the only "I'll get back to you on that" of the day. He started to start to talk about state's rights but rather let that trail off with a "Look, you know how I feel about the federal amendment - how I've voted and how I've said I'll vote again." He said he hadn't read the amendment himself and he'd get back to me.

Later, as the next blogger was asking a question, he turned back to me with a "I understand Dick Cheney has the same position on it that I do." I won't begin to point out that as far as I know Dick Cheney doesn't have any position on an Indiana Constitutional Amendment - but knowing the comment was really meant for Linda's question about the federal amendment, I was still left wondering, "What the hell does that have to do with anything? Cheney? Don't drag poor old Mary Cheney into this. She'll call you names in her next book."

Shakes Sis describes the scene this way:

Then Bil followed up by asking about the amendment on Indiana's state ballot, which is up for a vote next year. On this, the Senator struggled. It's dangerous to punt with a statement like, "It's a state issue" when your home state's currently considering an anti-gay marriage measure and there are people from that state sitting in front of you asking you questions. I desperately hoped he'd plainly state his objections to a discriminatory amendment, but alas, he did not. He said he hadn't read it and didn't really have an answer. Not good.

While I understand that the Senator doesn't want to seem as if he's intruding on a state issue as vs a federal issue, I think that my question is simple and direct. However, since at the very least someone on his staff reads the blog, I'd like to clarify my question for the Senator.

"As a former governor of the state of Indiana, and a current resident who will be voting on the constitutional amendment to not only ban same-sex marriage but deny us all "legal incidents of marriage" if it goes to a referendum, would you vote in favor of the amendment?"

If the Senator needs more information (including the language of the amendment - which includes the particularly vile and dangerous second clause which denies us everything from inheritance rights to domestic violence protections) it can be found here.

I'll keep everyone update on whether Senator Bayh responds back to my question.

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Of course he's read it--it's worded just like the federal amendment! grrrrrrrr.....

OK -- let's think like a politican. He can't driectly vote on it in that position -- and in the run for President voting against the FMA will already solidify his credentials as a moderate to liberal leaner.

Politicans are not normal people -- you and I take positions and hold them of conviction and know that we won't want to compromise. Oh, wait.. then we make some concessions to people like Garton today -- which are necessary to stave off an immediate disaster.

We want our Pols to be pure --Mr. Bayh in your heart of hearts, do you think that the state amendment is wrong? (I can't speak for him obviously, but I think my mind would read something like this.. "I'd like to answer questions like that directly -- and to my partner and my closest friends, I do-- but I simply can't take a definite position on that now.")

So.. we get the cop-out crappy answer to the Indiana amendment. But wait--- don't overlook the key part of the day-- he WILL OPPOSE THE FMA!!!

Ok.. let's support that -- work for more-- and make sure we start kicking Lugar's butt to be at least that moderate and states' rights leaning. Let's be honest-- we never get the whole pie-- but enjoy the slice we worked for.. and do it again.

Thanks Jerame, Bil, Linda.. etc.. for engaging Bayh on this and many other issues-- keep those lines of communication open.

Marla R. Stevens | June 17, 2006 9:10 AM

I wish someone had asked him what he thinks about federal DenialOMA that is very much in his turf -- whether he agrees with it and, if not, what he plans to do to set the stage for its repeal.

Stopping the Marriage (Special Rights) Protection (for Hets) Amendment means little without DenialOMA repeal. Don't take my word for it, lots of senators made that point during the recent debate when they assured each other collegially that bigotry was safely in place so the Marriage (Special Rights) Protection (for Hets) Amendment wasn't "needed".

Bayh could vote for justice if justice was more important to him than his personal ambition, if he had the moral courage of a true leader instead of a well-practiced, crass, self-serving lead-from-behind persona.

Let me say this clearly: Evan Bayh is not your friend or your supporter. He will do as little as possible necessary to get your support and will sell you out to a higher bidder as soon as he can find one.

There are better people to get behind and telling him he's not worthy would move you further faster than falling under a spell that demands you trade your integrity for a little meaningless attention.