Today's profile is on Rep. Milo Smith (R - Columbus). It's appropriate to point out here that Smith represents my home town and most of my family lives in his district - House District 59.
Recently, Mr. Smith was quoted in the Columbus Republic as saying:
I will support the marriage amendment, because I believe it's between one man and one woman and God. That's a position I'll take and will continue to take as long as you guys elect me to serve you. (3/27/07)
Rep. Smith's fear of voting against this heinous piece of legislation is contrary to his own legislative goals, a number of his constituents' beliefs, and even his own family.
Let's look into this a little deeper, shall we? (Continues after the jump...)
According to Rep. Smith's website, he stands for "limited government" and, "promoting a Hoosier economy that creates high-paying jobs" among other things. I'm not sure how defining relationships and enshrining a second class of citizens in the constitution is anything remotely close to limited government. Oh, wait. I get it now. Limited government means limiting government to only those God has told him deserve it. Now it all makes sense...
Maybe that sensibility will attract the highly-educated, highly-qualified, people who are going to fill those high-paying jobs Rep. Smith wants to create. Oh, I guess that's not going to work out as planned either. You see, highly-educated, highly-qualified people don't like living in areas where intolerance, bigotry, and religious dogma are the laws of the land.
Being from the Columbus area myself, I happen to know that a good number of Smith's constituents are 100% opposed to SJR-7. Aside from people like my family, countless other families and even Cummins Engine Co. Cummins is what puts Columbus on the map. They are the only remaining Fortune 500 company (there were 3 at one time) headquartered in Columbus. They are one of the largest employers in our state. They generate a fair number of those high-paying jobs Mr. Smith wants to see in Indiana. Yet they are staunchly opposed to SJR-7. Does Mr. Smith want to explain to Cummins how SJR-7 will create demand for high-paying jobs when they say it will do exactly the opposite? I'd like to be there for that meeting.
In conversations with Rep. Smith, Columbus constituents expressed their grave concerns about SJR-7 and the impact it will have on families in Columbus. Mr. Smith gave indications to several people that the position Cummins took on this issue would have an effect on his own position. I wish I could see that in his statement to The Republic, which came out after Cummins opposed the amendment.
Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that Rep. Smith stands against his own family. Rep. Smith's son is gay. Privately, Mr. Smith has stated that he is not opposed to civil unions or gay relationships, but that he simply believes that his faith tells him that marriage is between a man and a woman. Somehow, he doesn't understand (or doesn't care) that SJR-7, as it is written, would not allow for civil unions, domestic partnerships, or other benefits to same-sex couples. What's more, his son is part of the "brain drain" that opponents of SJR-7 have been decrying for years. Having moved out of state years ago, Mr. Smith's son is a glaring example of good Hoosiers who are fleeing our state for more diverse, vibrant, and tolerant locales.
Perhaps Mr. Smith doesn't believe SJR-7 would affect his son since he has escaped to a more progressive state. However, what Mr. Smith is missing are those nasty unintended consequences of this poorly written and discriminatory amendment. For example, let's say that Smith's son has a partner and he and his partner come to Indiana to visit the family. During the hypothetical visit, there is an accident that hospitalizes the partner. There is more than a chance that under SJR-7 Representative Smith's son would not only not be allowed to make life or death decisions for his partner, but he could potentially be barred from even seeing him while in the hospital.
Another example of how this could potentially affect Mr. Smith's family: What happens if his son and his theoretical partner get into a squabble that turns violent while visiting Indiana? (Don't get me wrong here, I am sure Rep. Smith's son and his hypothetical parter are fine, upstanding citizens.) Does Mr. Smith want to explain why he feels his own son isn't deserving of the same domestic violence protections he and his wife enjoy? I'm sure that would be an awkward dinner conversation.
So, why is Rep. Milo Smith voting for this terrible, offensive, and unnecessary amendment to our constitution? Why is Rep. Smith voting against his own son's ability to ever come back to Indiana and live happily with a spouse of his own choosing? Why is Rep. Smith ignoring the business interests of the only Fortune 500 company left in his district and one of Indiana's largest employers? Why is he voting against his own stated goals and alleged personal feelings?
The only explanation I can come up with is cowardice. He's afraid of taking a principled stand against a bad law. He's frightened of standing up for a founding principle of our nation - the staunch protection of a minority from a tyrannical and unjust majority. He's too scared to stand up for his own flesh and blood even.
Can he be so certain that his vote for SJR-7 won't cause him the same political consequences he fears from voting against it? The hundreds of contacts I have in House District 59 will certainly know my position on Rep. Smith and his inability to overcome his fears and protect his own family by doing the right thing.
Because if he won't stand up for his own family, how can you trust him to stand up for yours?