The Indiana Equality Political Action Committee is a statewide PAC established to elect candidates who will support and defend the needs of LGBT Hoosiers and their families. The committee is bipartisan and has now in 2010 issued endorsements of four Democrats and one Republican for the Indiana House of Representatives.
How, when, and to what extent such endorsements are publicized, I leave to the candidates themselves (who have been notified) and their advocates both on and off the PAC board. However, with the permission of one candidate, I am proceeding with publicizing his endorsement, which I consider to be of significant consequence for Indiana's gay citizens, our friends, families, and allies.
It is time that the GLBT community swing into strong support of the candidacy of Republican Kurt Webber for the Indiana House over that of incumbent Democrat Ed Delaney, and promote Webber's candidacy in the 86th District.
Some Bona Fides
By way of bona fides for this endorsement, it is important to note that that at the time of the vote, the PAC was majority Democrat and that the support of Democrats and Republicans together was required. Though I speak only for myself and in no official capacity for any of these organizations with which I have been associated, I speak as a member of the board of the PAC, the founder of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, as a member of the founding steering committees of Indiana Equality and of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination, and as an individual who representing Indiana Equality gave the press conference at the Indiana State House introducing the organization's public opposition to the attempt to amend the Indiana Constitution.
Further, I write as one who has never urged support for a Republican who I viewed as second to a Democrat with regard to public policy and the LGBT community, and indeed as one who has had no difficulty calling community attention to the relative backwardness of several specific Republicans attacking David Orentlicher, the seat's previous inhabitant, who was without question the State's most courageous defender of the LGBT community.
First, for those who supported David Orentlicher (as even my Republican parents did), Representative Ed Delaney is no David Orentlicher. Standing on my lawn and soliciting my vote, Representative Delaney when he first ran told me that he supports current law banning same sex marriage. And, though civil rights law protects citizens from employment discrimination based on being, say, white, male, or Catholic or Protestant, Delaney expressed reservations about including the LGBT community in its protections.
When I asked why the law should not provide equal protections and religious freedoms to same sex couples, he asked my indulgence in understanding that he is Catholic. Though he cited same sex couples in his church, spoke glowingly of their adoptions, and his relations with them, he derived no apparent sense of responsibility for providing equal protection of the laws to their families.
In this regard, it should be understood that Ed Delaney, while no doubt a friendly person, on matters of public policy is to the right of a great many, even conservative, Republicans. Barry Goldwater twenty years ago argued for equal rights for gay citizens. President Gerald Ford said: "I think they ought to be treated equally. Period." Even Glenn Beck and Ron Paul characterizes marriage as a religious right [rite!?] that the government ought to have nothing to do with. On the other hand, Representative Delaney's public policy position seems to the right of Dick Cheney and indistinct from that of Ann Coulter.
The present incumbent's support for government legislative interference in our lives, and lack of passion for our defense, should come as no surprise to our community. After all, many of us well remember Ann Delaney, his wife, speaking at length in favor of passing the marriage ban into law in 1996 on Indiana Week in Review when she was Chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, (a law passed by a Democratic legislature and signed by a Democratic Governor.) With friends like these, silent in our defense and finding their voice only in support of measures of gross intolerance, who needs enemies?
Second, the 86th District more than any other district in the state is capable of producing a centrist leader, and should. The GLBT community needs that leader to be in the Republican Party. Why? The polls show overwhelming support among Hoosiers, as among all Americans, for extending the equal protection of the laws to glbt citizens. But history has shown repeatedly that in the absence of pressure from centrist Republican leadership, the job doesn't get done in Indiana.
This lack of progress in public policy in the Indiana legislature should be understandable to all, as the present incumbent himself is evidence of the problem. Among some Democratic legislators, why commit to progress when, even as you hold private views contrary to the equality of gay citizens, you can claim our votes? And how much easier it is if you can point to Republicans as being worse. Only when Republicans candidates and office holders are better has history shown that in Indiana we get general public policy progress from Democrats.
I submit that there is no scenario under which the Webber candidacy is not the better option for the 86th District, for the GLBT community, and for the State as a whole. Should the Democrats retain the House, we need a bold voice in the Republican minority caucus to demonstrate that old partisan lines no longer hold and to strip Democrats of their excuse for inaction . (Only upon the election of Scott Keller to the City County Council, and Republican sponsorship of an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance, did we finally see a majority coalesce for progress.) Should the Republicans win the House by several seats (as seems likely), even more so do we need a voice in the Republican Caucus around which support, present but still silent, can grow. (Many Republicans know that the support of younger Republicans for the Party now depends on progress.)
Finally, in the unlikely event that one vote determines the outcome, then we occupy a position of supreme importance. In Washington, it is the small number of centrists around whom public policy must be formed, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In the case of Indiana, however, policy formation would depend significantly upon the leverage of a candidate in Kurt Webber's position. For this reason, it is well for the community to be aware that the House Republican Campaign Committee has declined to offer any support for Kurt Webber, for it is known that Webber is his own man, and cannot be controlled. That is the kind of Representative the 86th District needs, and the glbt community needs, in the Indiana House of Representatives.
In the words fo Indiana Equality PAC: "Kurt is an outspoken champion of LGBT equality and received a 100% rating in IEPAC's candidate questionnaire and discussion. Kurt is running a strong campaign and will be a true trailblazer for equality and justice for all Hoosiers."
What You Can Do
Go to Kurt's website, wherever you may live, and pledge a contribution. Whether it is $25 or $500, your dollars will ensure that Kurt has the ability to fund publicity for his campaign. Second, especially if you are in Indiana's 86th District, request a yard sign. And for friends of Ed Delaney, don't accept mere sociability; nothing but support for full equality under the law for glbt citizens should be acceptable in a representative of the 86th District. Nothing less was acceptable to Barry Goldwater and Gerald Ford, nothing less is acceptable to the majority of America's younger generation (whether Republican or Democrat) and nothing less is acceptable to Kurt Webber, the better candidate for the 86th District.