Chris Douglas

The Peril

Filed By Chris Douglas | May 08, 2006 6:02 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics

For the sake of argument, l will accept that Garton was a corrupt scoundrel, that efforts to improve the legislature by improving its accessibility to a wider swath of Hoosiers would only reward fat and corrupt incumbents, that the Indiana Equality coalition is ineffectual, and that I am self-righteously out to deceive the community. (I don't agree with any of those positions, but let's move on.)

To rephrase my concern, if our most adamant, extremist opponents in the Indiana Senate, Pat Miller, Jeff Drozda, and their ilk, could choose one impediment to their designs against us, against the rights of women, and against religious minorities that they could remove, it was the President Pro Tem, Senator Robert Garton. They could remove any Democrat in the Senate and not have furthered their cause in the least, because due to the Democratic Party's small minority position, even our greatest and staunchest ally amongst Democrats in the Senate could do little for us today. So the religious right prosecuted the campaign that they have pursued so successfully for two decades now: the removal in primaries of any Republican who stood in the way of their full agenda.

What are the consequences? Grim, even if for every progressive member of the community, moderate or liberal, Republican or Democrat. Here is why:

Pat Miller, Jeff Drozda, et al watched in frustration as their extremist proposals in the senate (to ban adoption by gays, to ban domestic partnership at our universities, etc.) were assigned by Garton to committees where they were quickly and quietly deep-sixed. (The same was true of proposals, for instance, that would require doctors to advise women contemplating abortion that the fetus would feel the pain. The New York Times Magazine Sunday in this regard gives even more cause for alarm: The next move of the fundamentalists is to go more brazenly after the teaching of contraception.)

With the removal of Garton, especially if replaced by a more conservative Senator, these proposals will see new life. If the Republicans retain power in the House, we're done for. Let's suppose however that the House goes Democrat, which would improve the picture for the gay community. Our problems are not over. A senate led by a social conservative may very well hold hostage every bill a democratic house may pass, even on the most unrelated topic, until the House passes the constitutional amendment UNCHANGED. Further, Radicals in the house can combine with a new social conservative power in the senate to throw at the Democratic house leadership every more extreme measures that would force Democrats to take stands for or against us, knowedgeable that some Democrats will have been elected in conservative districts that will not sustain "pro-glbt" positions. House democratic leadership will have to pick and choose what conservative measures they must pass in order to retain their majority and what measures they must take a stand on.

It will be difficult for House Democratic leadership, however unsympathetic it may be to anti-gay measures, to consider once again forfeitting control over the house by defending us. However helpful they may wish to be, they will at times find it impossible to reconcile support for us with another loss of power. IF the Senate is lead by a social conservative who is comfortable with an anti-gay agenda, an anti-choice agenda, or a pro-Christian religious agenda, rather than deep-sixing extremist measures, those measures will move into active consideration, and even a Democratic house may find it impossible to contemplate any positive measures of any sort on any topic for any constituency unless they render occasional sacrifice to the extremists in the Senate. Pure deadlock is the best scenario we can hope for, but with extremist success in the Senate, the hand of social conservatives in the House will be considerable strengthened.

That is why there were rumors afoot during the final days of the Garton campaign that not only were Waltz and Drozda lending quiet support to Walker, but so was Bosma.

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So Chris, what should the GLBT community do in light of the situation you are presenting to us? Garton is gone and in your opinion, our best case scenario is dismal. What are your suggestions?

Marla R. Stevens | May 8, 2006 9:20 AM

Move to a blue state now and beat the rush? (Oops, San Francisco's gay population has already grown by about twenty-five percent since Shrub took office -- too late.)

Other than that, you'll have to become very hard-nosed with the Dems (which will require being a much more important fiscal and utterly unignorably visibly active force in the party than you're probably prepared as a people to be) and simultaneously support any positive gesture by moderate R's, including working to increase their numbers in the Senate at the expense of the RPEs.
You'll have to collectively decide what your bottom lines are with the Dems -- and discipline your own unmercifully to hold those lines, which means that you'll actually have to act like a mature community of purpose instead of a cannibalistic pack out of _Lord of the Flies_.
You'll have to act like your own issues are more important to you than increasing your personal wealth, drinking liquor, and whatever else gets more of your time and money than your freedom does.

Frankly, if I were a betting woman, I'd not bet on your success.

Marla, the question was for Chris. All you are doing is fueling the same mentality of which you speak.

Chris Douglas | May 8, 2006 10:15 AM

I do indeed have thoughts. Through the today, I must concentrate on making a living. I will post more this evening.

Tracy Elliott | May 9, 2006 6:06 PM

I'm sorry, I simply cannot endure this in silence: The most divisive, imprudent, attack-dog on this blog (or any other, do doubt) -- someone who cannot calmly, rationally use her considerable skill with words to argue with grace -- lecturing us to act maturely!!! Hilarious!!! Then, just to be consistent, she insults us by predicting we will fail due to our lack of maturity and character. It would be unbearable if not so funny!

Marla R. Stevens | May 10, 2006 2:10 AM

Prove me wrong and no one will be happier than I.