Chris Douglas

Carson vs Elrod II

Filed By Chris Douglas | March 08, 2008 8:31 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] The following guest post is from Chris Douglas, a noted Indiana republican LGBT activist. Chris is following up on his last guest post, "To my friends in the LGBT community: Elrod vs Carson."

In response to the post below a thoughtful challenge appeared under the pen name of Tyrion on Tyrion's Blog. The points Tyrion makes are of a respectful nature and deserve a respectful response of my own, for they are not points I fail to consider in calling attention to Jon Eldrod's candidacy.

Elrod's responses to a survey by Indiana Equality [PDF warning] are meritorious for his willingness publicly to commit to very important positions, groundbreaking not only for any recent Republican congressional candidate in Indiana, but demonstrating a greater concern for the Constitutional Guarantees to religious freedom and the equal protection of the laws than many Democratic Hoosier officeholders. He favors extending nondiscrimination protection to include sexual orientation and gender identity; measures to discourage crimes of hate targeting classes of citizens, including glbt citizens; the legal recognition of same sex relationships; and a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Those areas wherein Elrod did not respond represent thoughtful demurral pending more information, rather than an attempt to avoid the questions at hand, let alone opposition to GLBT interests.

Further, Elrod's presence in the Indiana House of Representatives was important for Indiana's glbt community, as is his run now for Congress. To understand this, it is important to understand that successful politics involves bank shots. Having just a few Republicans oppose the marriage amendment, for instance, stripped the amendment of purely partisan division, and allowed nonpartisan corporations, churches and editorial boards to join opposition to the amendment without appearing to favor one party over another. And such Republicans opposition also provides coverage for some pressured Democrats to oppose the amendment. Lastly, it should not be lost upon the us that in departing the Indiana House for Congress, Elrod is almost certainly turning his seat back over to the Democrats, a fact that has earned him criticism among conservative supporters of the House Republican Caucus.

Also, progress for the GLBT community in Indiana and nationally requires a change in dynamics within and between the Republican and Democratic Parties, a change which an Elrod incumbency would serve to engender and a Carson incumbency would not, no matter Andre Carson's merits. Support for comprehensive nondiscrimination and domestic partnership policies in corporate America has made it easier for supporters of legislation to press our case among cautious politicians. In order truly to see progress we need to see support grow in the Republican Party as well, for without the political cover that growing Republican support provides, moderate and conservative Democrats will remain too cautious in their districts to risk votes for measures that would otherwise be deemed "too liberal."

Finally, while I join other analysts, including even the conservative Wall Street Journal, in assessing that the odds of the Democrats retaining Congress in November at better than 90%, I observe that should that the threat of loss truly return in some way deleterious to the interests of the GLBT, the community will have ample opportunity to reassess our interests in the fall.

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Many well taken points. To see the html version of the candidate responses to the Indiana Equality candidate survey, go to


I understand your willingness to stand up for Jon in regards to his LGBT stances. They are commendable and he should be singled out for his ability to stand up to the party.

That said, however, I can't reconcile Jon's views on other issues (he has yet to say more about Iraq than "Let the generals decide" and doesn't feature the topic on his website and his stance on abortion truly bothers me the most).

I like Jon. I consider him a friend. But I just can't bring myself to vote for him based on the other issues.

Since I can't bring myself to vote for nepotism either, as I say in my post below, for the first time since I turned 18 I won't be voting this election.

Wilson46201 | March 9, 2008 11:54 AM

Grandfather French Elrod - attorney & GOP county commissioner.

Father Bob Elrod - attorney & longtime GOP counsel to the CC Council.

Scion Jonathon Robert Elrod - attorney and GOP candidate for Congress

Now, as you were saying about nepotism, Bil ?

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 9, 2008 1:27 PM

Bil, regarding Iraq, it is not clear to me, once you boil all the rhetoric down of the two democratic presidential contenders and their advisers, how they are actually are saying anything different from what Elrod says.

I personally am of a mind, and statistics in the New York Times seem to bear this out, that the picture has improved in Iraq significantly. Taking it a month at a time, I'm not sure an immediate pull-out strategy makes sense, and indeed a long term strategy to the benefit of the U.S., Iraq, and the Middle East may or may not mean remaining in place for some time to come, just as we have in Korea and Germany.

One thing's clear. With all respect to Andre Carson or Jon Elrod, neither is an expert. If Carson or his team envision placing on Iraq a stamp of their own vision, that would be an argument against voting for Carson and for voting for Elrod.

Regarding Elrod's somewhat malleable view of what it means to be pro-life, I don't think its going to matter one way or the other in a Congressional race, especially as I believe Congress will remain Democratic. Roe V. Wade is the law of the land, and beyond the influence of the House of Representatives. (Elrod has made it clear it is a matter of no interest to him to press. He only addresses the topic when pressed to do so and in my opinion without any enthusiasm.) That's an issue at the Presidential level in terms of what kind of Judge would be nominated, and at the Senate level in terms of what kind of judge would be approved.

Jeff Newman | March 9, 2008 4:28 PM

Chris, you wrote: "Elrod has made it clear it is a matter of no interest to him to press. He only addresses the topic when pressed to do so and in my opinion without any enthusiasm."

I had thought that to be true as well, but then I see this direct mail piece he has sent out:

What do you make of this?

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 9, 2008 6:05 PM

My read of the that mailer is: "If I'm going to lose votes because I'm pro-life, I better make sure I at least get the pro-life votes", particularly since he's going to have to make sure he gets some Republican votes out which would otherwise be unsympathetic to his views on gay rights.

That said, I think the mailer was a political misfire for precisely the reason that we are discussing it. As a minority in the House, his vote on this matter is going to be inconsequential one way or the other. I stand by my understanding of his lack of enthusiasm for the issue, and I agree that engaging in this mailing to try to get Republican voters to the polls could prove counter productive in a pro-choice district.

Because I don't believe that his views one way or the other will be consequential on the life/choice issue, I do indeed place a priority on what will move the glbt community forward.

Jeff Newman | March 9, 2008 7:24 PM

Chris, I frankly think you're being kind calling it a misfire: I would go so far as to label it a blunder. I would be really surprised if the turnout he's going for offsets the "turn-off." That mailer so resembles the stuff that far-right organizations put out in support of their wingnut candidates it gave me the heebie-jeebies, which had never happened to me before with Jon. I doubt I'm alone.

I fear he's going to regret that mailer.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | March 10, 2008 9:38 AM

Wouldn't be the first time. The same thing took place with Sue Anne Gilroy's run for mayor. Though a moderate, her campaign went for the conservative vote and she ended up losing the moderate Republican north side.

We'll see what happens!