Freedom Indiana, the statewide umbrella group formed to fight a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in the Hoosier state, has used a unique and thoughtful approach to lobby state legislators. They hired an admired Republican campaign director and they're targeting Republican legislators using conservative talking points in opposition to the amendment - and they're getting results.
The usual suspects are all there, liberal and progressive organizations and such, but they've also been endorsed by every Fortune 500 company in the state, groups that skew Republican like the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and even a few Republican politicians. But now, they're bringing in a new voice to help fight the good fight - Mary Cheney.
Cheney, recently in the news for her public spat with her sister, Liz, over marriage equality, will be headlining a fundraising dinner in Indianapolis on December 11 in support of Freedom Indiana. While I've consistently praised the campaign for it's work and bold leadership, this is one decision I just can't get behind.
Mary Cheney worked for the Bush/Cheney presidential campaigns even as they used gays and lesbians as political footballs. With the help of Ken Mehlmann at the Republican National committee - himself a closeted gay man at the time - Bush/Cheney stirred up anti-gay fervor by proposing a federal constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality that led to dozens of states passing their own constitutional amendments to strip gay couples of the freedom to marry.
Mary Cheney was an integral part of getting the Bush/Cheney ticket elected. It is not unfair to say she helped to create the problem Indiana is still struggling against today. After all, Indiana's marriage amendment battle began in 2004 amongst the fevered anti-marriage equality panic manufactured by the Bush/Cheney machine.
In the last presidential election, Cheney announced her support for the Romney/Ryan ticket - another duo that supported a federal marriage amendment as part of their rightwing pandering. She may be against marriage amendments now, but amendments have never stopped her from supporting Republicans willing to flatly say her family isn't equal to theirs.
For over a decade, LGBT rights in Indiana have been stymied by the very anti-gay politicians who rode to victory on Bush/Cheney's coattails and practically every resource LGBT Hoosiers have mustered have been blown playing defense against this damned amendment. Hoosier LGBT people have spent their time and money fending off attacks on their lives by far-right religious nutjobs and the pushback on the amendment quickly overshadowed any progress on any other fronts for LGBT rights.
Mary Cheney has not only cost the Indiana LGBT community untold millions of dollars, but also every drop of forward momentum on issues like employment, public accommodation, and housing protections Hoosiers had created before this heinous amendment. And don't get me started on Indiana's distinction as one of five states without a hate crimes law.
No pro-LGBT legislation has ever been debated on the floor of the Indiana legislature; it's never made it that far. Instead, the community has had to fend off that damned amendment every single session since 2004. Think about that.
Mary Cheney's support and defense of Bush/Cheney created the very conditions Hoosiers are fighting against right now. Will she apologize for her part in creating the mess she's now trying to claim some modicum of credit for helping fix? Or will she just give another tired speech about how Republicans really aren't as anti-gay as all of those bigoted Republicans would have you believe? I know where I'm putting my money.