WHAT WE FACE
In order to progress nondiscrimination, the glbt community may, however inefficient, have the leisure to entertain many different uncoordinated approaches. The tide of public opinion is overwhelmingly toward nondiscrimination, I am confident that we will eventually find victory. Inefficiency in the fight for nondiscrimination in the laws merely means delay, not defeat.
But the fight against the assault on the Consitution by conservative religious extremists is dangerously different. An immediate attack is underway with the intent of stripping the equal protections of the Constitution from gblt citizens in Indiana. The odds are already heavy against us that prejudice will prevail and our Constitutional rights to equal protection of the laws will be revoked as they have been elsewhere. Inefficiency in our cause will produce certain, devastating defeat with long term ramifications. In my opinion, we have no leisure for divided forces applied in any directions but the most promising, nor for duplicated efforts.
WHAT WE MUST DO
We must together formulate an effective and united plan of battle, then prosecute that battle with all the energy and intensity as a community that we and our allies can bring to bear. Short of that, we will lose.
To my knowledge, there is only one functioning round table at which organizations from around the state meet to coordinate strategy: the Indiana Equality coalition. At present, this coalition consists with the support, participation, and/or cooperation of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Indiana Transgendered Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA), the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce (IRCoC), the Indiana Activist Network (IAN), as well as local organizations such as those in Lafayette, a Fort Wayne , Bloomington, and others visible through IE's website: (www.incoalition.org).
I believe that only by coordinating with the coalition, can organizations achieve an efficient place in the fight against the marriage amendment. By working with the coalition, an organization is able to participate in the formulation or modification unified strategy, provide input as to its capabilities and resources, determine the capabilities and resources of other coalition partners as appropriate, prioritize application of efforts and resources community-wide, augment expertise as necessary on tasks, and obtain the support of coalition resources for its initiatives as appropriate priority dictates. What's more, a thorough understanding and coordination of a unified strategy ensures that no one organization is duplicating the efforts of another.
As a coalition, Indiana Equality operates on informed consensus, and majority vote. No one of its member organizations has veto over the action of other member organizations, no one organization has greater influence. (Indeed, virtually every organization has its own board of directors to which its representative to IE is entirely responsible.) No one member truly has authority over others except to the degree that his or her thoughtful input or insight warrant. It is the sober discussions of representatives, united in purpose, that tends to produce agreement as among reasonable people. It has never been IE's purpose to promote itself as an organization except to the degree that it relates to a specific accomplishment of a given task. It is the member organizations each of which promote their own mission in the niche they occupy.
(As a coalition, IE is also peopled with individuals from the around the state with vastly different areas of strength and levels of tact. United in purpose, on a practical level minor insult and offense are quickly forgotten. (I speak as one who has been as much insulted as any.) Attempts to achieve unity and mutual respect are mutually emphasized; a multitude of sources of division are mutually de-emphasized for the common good of the state-wide community.)
I do not believe that a member organization, or any organization, needs to have IE's permission to engage in any action. I do, however, believe that only by participating in the formulation of unified strategy with organizations around the state, by achieving mutual agreement on community priorities in mutual strategy, and by executing strategy with the tremendous force-multiplication effect of coalition partners, can the many glbt organizations in the state have the impact they need to have to defeat the amendment.
Further, because all means of public communication of strategy are monitored by our opposition, and therefore no means of mass transmission of strategy is appropriate, participation in the coalition is one avenue through which organizations can develop enough information to plan internally for effective actions in the coming two years in support of the fight, and educate their boards and their membership appropriately. (It need not be the leaders of organizations that participate; organizational leaders may wish to concentrate on the development of their own organizations.)
Member organizations have a commitment to assist IE in raising funds through houseparties or and fundraising campaigns, which amounts depend on the category of membership. (It is possible to donate to Indiana Equality directly by going to www.incoalition.org). Funds raised are applied according to the priorities established by the participating organizations in the coalition. (As the campaign heats up, the community will need many hundreds of thousands, indeed perhaps millions of dollars for effective media, lobbying and voter ID efforts.)
I urge those who want to know more about the Indiana Equality statewide coalition to visit IE's website (www.incoalition.org). Those anxious to contribute energy should consult a member organization. Those in business especially I encourage to contact me regarding the work of the Indy Rainbow Chamber.
Chris Douglas, President
Indy Rainbow Chamber