Chris Douglas

Brizzi Vs. Kennedy

Filed By Chris Douglas | October 20, 2006 12:17 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

The Marion County Prosecutor's race in my opinion is between two good candidates. That said, I believe that current Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is an individual whose successful re-election would, in a year of Republican defeat, send a powerful message to the Republican Party on behalf of the GLBT community of Indianapolis.

This message would be powerful for many reasons:

First, Carl Brizzi early on adopted independently a comprehensive nondiscrimination policy covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

(With all due respect to Kennedy's past with the Mayor's office, and with all due respect to the Mayor himself, the Mayor's office, though highly supportive, has not been a trailblazing office in nondiscrimination. Peterson's Republican opponent, Sue Anne Gilroy, in 1999 pledged to incorporate sexual orientation into the written nondiscrimination policy of the City of Indianapolis, a pledge that she honored in her own office of Secretary of State in 2000. Peterson acted to include sexual orientation only after his second term re-election in 2004. And the Mayor's office included gender identity only after the Governor's Office and the Secretary of State's office.)

Second, Carl Brizzi has, without hectoring from the gay community, embarked on a serious path toward promoting comprehensive hate crime legislation, including sexual orientation and gender identity and enhanced penalties. In my estimation, for reasons beyond both Brizzi's and Kennedy's control, Brizzi would be more effective and more helpful in securing the passage of this legislation.

(Such legislation depends on the cooperation of an Indiana Senate that will remain Republican for at least several sessions to come. In working to obtain passage of such legislation through a Republican Senate, in my opinion it helps that Brizzi was not a believer in hate crime legislation until he became prosecutor, and in that post developed a greater sense both of the broader impact of hate crime and of the importance of enhanced penalties as a tool of prosecution. In my opinion, as one who at one time had free-speech reservations about hate crime legislation, Brizzi's evolution to support will have greater impact on Republican senators with similar reservations.)

Third, Brizzi has demonstrated a willingness to associate himself with the GLBT community in the face of considerable social conservative pressure not to.

(Specifically, my understanding is that all Republican candidates have been subject to conservative threats to suppress vote should a candidate attend meetings and events associated with the GBLT community. Brizzi has attended the Lambda Legal Dinner (as has Kennedy) and spoken to the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce (as has Kennedy), which has required some moxie on Brizzi's behalf.)

Fourth, in my opinion, there is a virtue to divided government, with both parties engaging in positive competition for the votes of the glbt community. The existence of a supportive, ambitious, and electorally successful Republican prosecutor ensures a healthy dynamic of competition, a significant positive for the glbt community.

(What's more, I personally feel that with a city county council and Mayor's office controlled by one party, a prosecutor's office controlled by the opposition has a heathy effect. In my opinion, Brizzi has used this control prudently and appropriately, engaging in no partisan hijinx, but referring matters of potential corruption instead to special prosecutors so that the integrity of the office has been well-maintained. )

In summary: While having the highest opinion of Melina Kennedy, in my opinion Carl Brizzi's strong re-election in a year of defeat for the Republican Party would help to send to the Republican Party the message that voters support, and do not oppose, candidates who embrace the entire community of Indianapolis voters, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Moderates will be strengthened in arguing that the ONLY way for the Republican Party to succeed across Indianapolis is to demonstrate respect for EVERYONE who makes Indianapolis home.

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Chris -- on this one I would agree with you. My feeling about Brizzi-- and the knowledge I have gained from many sources-- tell me he's the best one for us. I do worry though that the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office is in charge of bringing charges against state officers.. if issues arise. Either Prosector would find that prickly for different reasons. Anyone know how this came about? I mean.. it's probably an 1851 Constitution thing, right?