The Massachusetts Avenue area of downtown Indianapolis has long been promoted to tourists and residents alike for its restaurants and lively arts scene.
But on Monday, June 13, the popular nightlife district will become a new battleground in the debate over same-sex unions. On that day, Brian Bosma, Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, will host his annual "Junetoberfest" campaign fundraiser.
In response, local activist group Indiana Action Network (IAN) plans to hold the "Defending Our Families - Defending Our Neighborhoods" protest outside the Rathskeller Biergarten, where the event is to take place.
Massachusetts Avenue (often referred to locally as Mass Ave) contains one of Indiana's highest concentrations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT)-owned businesses. IAN members say it is improper for Bosma to raise campaign money in a part of town whose success is in large part due to the presence and activity of GLBT residents and business owners.
"Bosma is apparently willing to promote Mass Ave's businesspeople as artists and tourist draws while simultaneously advocating the curtailing of human rights for those very same people, as well as for all of Indiana's GLBT families," IAN president Jerame Davis said.
Bosma is a leading proponent of an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage and the conferring of "marital status or the legal incidents of marriage" on unmarried couples. "This is the most critical piece of the people's business," Bosma shouted on the Statehouse floor, in reference to the heavily debated amendment.
Although Indiana law currently allows neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions, the proposed amendment takes the further step of prohibiting future state lawmakers from passing legislation that would permit such unions to occur. Opponents say the ban goes too far, in that it acts to restrict not only current legislative action, but also attempts to dictate the actions of future elected officials, regardless of what their political stances may be.
Davis says the proposed measure is a major threat to the safety of many Indiana families and children. "It's our sons' and daughters' future that's at stake here, their rights as members of our families that are being affected," he said. "Bosma says [the ban] protects the sanctity of marriage, but it serves only to attack and exclude the families of GLBT couples, undercutting their ability to provide for their children's security and future."
The protest is scheduled to begin at 5:00 PM on June 13. Starting at 6:00 PM, and running concurrently with the protest, will be the "Defending our families - Defending our neighborhoods" fundraiser at Aesop's Tables restaurant (located at 600 Massachusetts Avenue). The requested donation is $10 at the door; reservations are recommended. In absentia support and donations can be sent to IAN at PO Box 20705, Indianapolis, IN 46202 or by logging in to http://www.indiana-action.net.
Indiana Action Network is an organization of Hoosier activists dedicated to promoting the rights of Indiana's GLBT community. Based in Indianapolis, IAN is a direct action group focused on exposing and critiquing how sexism, homophobia and anti-gay oppression affect all Hoosiers.