Bil Browning

Round these parts

Filed By Bil Browning | July 10, 2007 4:32 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: domestic partner benefits, Indiana, Kentucky, local news, state politics, taxes

Living in middle America gives a few of our contributors a unique experience and voice. Those of us out here in flyover country see things a little differently sometimes than those who are on the coasts. We have challenges that don't loom as large in the more progressive areas like San Francisco and New York City.

When I first started the blog, it didn't take long before I realized we could use it to talk to (and with) our local community - specifically Indianapolis. That quickly became all of Indiana as the net continued to expand and more and more Hoosiers got online and turned on to blogs. Now, as we've expanded again, some of our oldest readers have expressed some trepidation at the changes and wider scope. They're worried we'll lose our "local focus" that gets us repeatedly ranked as "Indiana's Most Politically Influential Blog."

I understand their concerns. Sometimes when I read some of the more "cultured" and "mainstream" blogs and magazines, I feel left out. Out magazine doesn't represent my life in the least - and I'm about as out as it gets. I'm much less worried about the right to marry as I am the right to have my employment be based on my job performance. While I've fought like hell to sink Indiana's constitutional amendment, I'm not going to start campaigning for the right to get married here. Would I like to get married? Of course. Obviously. I just have other priorities - like creating a culture in my state where the "gay panic defense" isn't a defense for murder.

For example, our neighbors to the south in Kentucky - less than 3 hours drive from my house - just had to deal with their Governor calling for a special legislative session to ban domestic partner benefits at state universities and other government entities. He was denied the special session by lawmakers. Here in Indiana, our Guv is facing daily protests and a near revolt over skyrocketing taxes (our own property tax almost doubled from last year), and he's still waffling on whether or not to call a special session. One Guv faces down angry mobs without a session, the other stumps for direct discrimination against our community. What does it say about the stifling atmosphere queers in Kentucky have to face when their Governor uses them to score cheap political points?

While activists in New Jersey complain that UPS won't provide benefits for civil union partnerships, they have civil unions. And employment, housing and public accommodations discrimination protections. And a hate crimes law. Activists in Kentucky are happy their Governor didn't get to call a special session of the state legislature just to deny them one more aspect of equal treatment by the government. Here in Indiana, we celebrated the death of our amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage and civil unions, but we mourned the death of bills to protect us from discrimination and hate crimes. And we didn't celebrate too hard - the bill died in committee on a tie vote; if it had advanced it would probably have passed. Of course, we already have a law that outlaws same-sex marriage anyhow...

The problems facing middle America still need to be covered - and more in depth than they are. While The Bilerico Project may have gone national and gained other contributors from around the nation, I can only say what I remember my sister telling my mother the day before her (1st, mind you) wedding, "You're not losing a daughter. You're gaining a son-in-law."

While Hoosiers tend to be a little resistant to change, we can't just focus on our own needs either - or of those just like us. On the other hand, the coastal queers need to realize that sometimes we're not going to want to jump on the bandwagon for something so far out of our reach we have no chance of achieving it without some proper groundwork. The way to bring together a community as disparate and wide ranging as ours is simple. Dialogue. Conversation. Argument. Compromise.

And that sounds like the perfect pitch for The Bilerico Project. A giant experiment in conversation and culture that not only provides national news and entertainment, but local perspectives from around the nation. Don't worry about the focus, folks. They say all politics is local - and I'm about as political as can be. You'll get my usual focus - plus more.

We'll all open our eyes to something different if the experiment is successful.

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I think this is a grand project. I can remember when USA Today started and all the naysayers about how it would fail because the people wanted their local information and yet USA Today has become the "national" newspaper.

I think what you are doing is the same thing but for the next generation. It looks like you have done all the right things in order to make this successful and it has been fun to watch happen.

Unfortunately, I find a few of the "national" bloggers write about topics that seem pretty ego centric and I wonder what was the point of what I just read. I also find a few of the "national" bloggers write from such an extreme left of center perspective that I wonder if they have any sense of reality. (It is very much how people--maybe readers of Bilerico Project--feel or react when they hear right-wing talk radio.)

I think this is a noble effort that is worth doing and exciting to watch evolve and I think you are doing a great job.

I will keep checking in regularly but I am finding fewer articles that seem practical or of interest to me and even fewer articles that seem like there is any value in leaving a comment.

But Bilerico Project is evolving and so am I.