Chris Douglas

Land of 150,000 Emperors

Filed By Chris Douglas | June 19, 2006 9:07 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

I feel privileged to be living among Emperors, some 150,000 of them, by my count. What is an emperor? An emperor is a member of the gay community in Indiana who, once Republican, shakes his or her head about the prejudice that has come to define the Republican Party , and says: "I'm voting Democratic" and considers his or her job in life done.

But unlike a true emperor who, stepping up in front of Roman crowds at the Coliseum, summons life or death by displaying his thumb, our local emperors are content merely to imagine their influence in life. As though the press will be thronging about them as they emerge from the voting booth, that they will step to a bank of microphones, announce their vote (and surprise... who?). Then, in a further feat of imagination, our local emporors will conjure

for an assembled crowd a political victory for a Democratic candidate who will arrive, garlanded, with policies promoting dignity and civil rights for the glbt community. Having thus acheived equality in Indiana, our emperors will declare bread and circuses, and retire to life of well-earned leisure, fed grapes from their vineyards, and acclaimed in history and among their peers as gods on earth.

For most gays and lesbians of Republican family and heritage in Indiana, that seems to be the full extent of the program.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party was seized and power grabbed not by emperors, but by workers. Workers who did not merely attend fundraisers, sip cocktails, and tut-tut about the state of the world. How did they succeed? By showing up. By volunteering to fill precinct positions. By running for minor positions on school boards, in townships, and organizing support. By talking with and pressuring candidates, by finding worthy candidates and going door to door for them, or by becoming candidates themselves.

Here is the news for our Emperors: The press is not gathering to hear your vote. Unless your candidate wins by one vote alone, your importance in this democracy is in your head, while the importance of your opposition is real and proven by their hard work. Having body-snatched the Republican Party, this opposition has then freely deployed the party against our allies in the Democratic Party to our detriment, and to the detriment of the religious minorities whose contributions have made our nation great.

If you once considered yourself Republican, before the Party became indefensibile with its aggression against decent citizens, then you are not doing your duty if your sole act in this democracy is merely casting a vote for a Democrat. Rather, your duty is to vote your conscience as necessary, while re-engaging in the Republican Party, especially if you live in a Republican district. Your duty is deny the forces of prejudice the control of your precinct, your township, and your legislative seats, just as they conspired to gain that control at your expense in the first place. Your duty is to speak up when a candidate is proposed who is a disgrace to the Party's better traditions of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Lugar, Hudnut, and Orr. And to join with and make allies of other Republicans who shudder at the bigotry that has infected the Republican Party in Indiana.

A majority of Hoosiers believe gays and lesbians deserve rights to inheritance and hospital visitation which rightwing zealots now seek to deny us Constitutionally. Nearly 80% of Hoosiers believe gays and lesbians deserve the same civil irights as others. It's time that the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers were given back control of both our political parties.

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