Jerame Davis

When the HRC Comes to Town

Filed By Jerame Davis | October 29, 2005 4:01 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Marriage Equality
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It has come to our attention that HRC President Joe Solmonese is visiting Indianapolis and hosting a meet and greet at the Rathskeller.

The Rathskeller has conducted fundraising operations for the Republican Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma, who is a primary instigator of anti-lgbt rhetoric and legislation in Indiana. Already the target of protests, the Rathskeller is now also understood to be planning a fundraiser for State Senator Pat Miller, a head of a national movement against gays and lesbians in the Methodist church, who is attempting to ban gays and lesbians from adoption. Miller also authored the recent "Authorized Reproduction" bill which caught national attention when it tried to ban unmarried women (read: lesbians) from artificial insemination.

There are dozens of LGBT-owned and LGBT-supportive restaurants in Indianapolis, far more appropriate to the function envisioned by HRC. LGBT events held under the current conditions at the Rathskeller risk not only light attendance, but risk sending exactly the wrong message to Indianapolis.

It is our concern that Indiana's fight for civil rights and against a marriage and civil union ban in Indiana do not register as high priorities for HRC's national efforts.

Please take a moment to contact HRC (hrc@hrc.orgAttention Joe Solmonese and copy Bo Schuff Indiana field coordintor located in DC or call (800) 777-4723) and advise them of your reluctance to attend an event at their chosen venue. Please ask them to change venues to a more LGBT-friendly location. And while you're at it, please also ask that they spend in Indiana a majority of any money they raise in Indiana instead of just carting it off to DC.


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Here is the article I just posted to the GayIndy.Org website(please see
the article on the website for links to many of the references in the
text version below):

http://www.gayindy.org/2005/index.php?id=200510291

Choice of Venue for Planned Indy Visit by HRC President Stirs Controversy

RAINBOW CHAMBER OBJECTS TO RATHSKELLAR'S BIGOTRY TIES

10/29/2005

Indianapolis--In an email letter to its members, Indy Rainbow Chamber
Chairman Jon Keep expresses displeasure that a "meet and greet" event
during a planned visit by Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese
will be held at the Rathskellar Restaurant in the Massachusetts Avenue
arts district.

The Rathskellar has recently come under fire for hosting a fundraiser
for Speaker of the Indiana House Brian Bosma, who has been one of the
leading proponents of anti-GLBT legislation. While there have been calls
from many in the GLBT community for a Rathskellar boycott, to date no
such action has been taken.

"This neighborhood has the highest concentration of GLBT businesses in
the state of Indiana," stated Indiana Action Network President Jerame
Davis during the Bosma Protest, "bigotry is not welcome in any
neighborhood, and certainly not here. It's simply unconscionable that
Brian Bosma is raising money in this neighborhood only to use it against
its residents."

In his letter to Rainbow Chamber Members, Keep also states that the
Rathskellar is understood to be planning a fundraiser for Senator Pat
Miller, who recently gained national notoriety for her "Unauthorized
Reproduction" proposal, a controversial measure to prohibit gays,
lesbians and single people from using medical procedures to become
pregnant. Miller dropped her proposal after a firestorm of criticism,
although she has stated that she me bring it back when the new
legislative session begins.

Keep writes "[w]hile we are supportive of this event in Indianapolis,
there are dozens of GLBT-owned and GLBT-supportive restaurants in
Indianapolis far more appropriate to the function envisioned by HRC.
GLBT events held under the current conditions at the Rathskellar risk
not only light attendance, but risk sending exactly the wrong message to
Indianapolis."

He goes on to ask the GLBT community to contact HRC (hrc@hrc.org or
800.777.4723) and "advise them of your reluctance to attend an event at
their chosen venue."


Brent Mather | October 30, 2005 6:28 PM

Jon! Jeff! Jerame! and the Bilerico Community!

I am very confused.

I always thought the Rathskeller a good neighbor and a supporter of our community. So I called the restaurant owner / manager Dan.

#1 The Rathskeller is NOT nor has ever PLANNED events for people. They are hosting event for paying customers, both HRC and Bosma. Ironically, HRC's recent event received a discounted rate compared to Bosma's (don't tell them).

#2 Dan said that the Rathskeller sees itself as inclusive of ALL it's community. Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Allied, BiSexual, Transgendered, and has been very happy to gave clients from all communities. He is preparing a public statement to this effect.

#3 Keith Washington at HRC said (and I paraphrase) that the Rathskeller was chosen for its central location and ease of access to ALL types of people. I suppose he means it is not just a gay bar or a lesbian bar or a straight bar, or a bar and not a restaurant, or ???? He hoped that placing the event at the Rathskeller would mean MORE, DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE WOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE ATTENDING, and that we could send a message throughout Indianapolis and Indiana reaching people who had never heard how important LGBT Equality is - rather than preaching to the same 20 people that come to the same events. THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD THING TO ME.

I FOR ONE AM GOING ...
... because I want to send the RIGHT MESSAGE TO INDIANAPOLIS (from Newman's post). I want to tell Indianapolis that it is time we ALL worked TOGETHER for EQUALITY, and that sometime this means we have to step out of our normal roles / comfort zones just a little. It is what we are asking our future allies to do (step out of their comfort zones regarding LGBT persons); and meet them half-way. For now, the Rathskeller will do for that half-way meeting ground. I DON?T CARE WHO ELSE HAS EATEN THERE. If I stayed away from every restaurant that someone I didn?t like had ever stepped foot in? Heavens, I?d go hungry.

BESIDES, IF I WANT TO CHANGE PEOPLE?S MINDS AND GET THEM TO FIGHT FOR EQUALITY, I MAY HAVE TO GO TO THEM, RATHER THAN EXPECTING THEM TO COME TO ME AND MY PARTY. MAYBE THE RATHSKELLER IS A GOOD THING?

I hope to see lots of your there, and lots and lots of people I don't know who I can convince to fight with me for EQAULITY. I even hope Bosma stops by, so I can give a piece of my mind....

Brent Mather
brentindy@excite.com

Brent,

Thanks for the comments. I'm sorry we're in disagreement, here. Let me explain our position more clearly.

If Brian Bosma were just eating and getting drunk at the Rathskeller, great. Who cares? Even idealogical bigots deserve good food and great beer. It's when places start hosting political events that we have to start looking more closely.

You're right, Brian Bosma is a paying customer. But that doesn't give the Rathskeller a pass on decency. The Rathskeller claims they are a "friend" of the gay community. A friend doesn't allow visitors to their house to come in and disparage their other friends. Brian Bosma raises money by disparaging, demonizing, and outright lying about the gay community. A true friend would not let such things happen under their roof.

By hosting a political fundraiser, it is a de facto acceptance of the message of that event. By allowing the event to take place, you are saying that the message being disseminated is OK by you. You may not agree, but you don't find it offensive.

Brian Bosma's message should not be OK to any friend of the gay community. Anyone villainizing our families for political and financial gain should be anathema to anyone who would call themselves our friend. Would African-Americans frequent an establishment that allowed fundraisers for the KKK? How about Jews frequenting some place that allows the Aryan Nation to host fundraisers?

Any establishment can have whatever patrons they choose. They should not discriminate against a private citizen for any reason. But when it comes to leasing their facilities for events, political or otherwise, that's something on a different level. They have a choice to make there and they should be exercising some discretion. They certainly shouldn't be hosting this kind of hate-mongerer in their restauarant.

Brian Bosma is not just a representative for "a different opinion," he is an enemy to gay families and to anyone who supports LGBT rights. The friend of your enemy is not your friend. If the Rathskeller is truly "our friend" then they should be listening to our displeasure instead of blowing us off.

It is beyond my comprehension why we should give them a pass. They are in the heart of the gayest part of Indianapolis. They claim to be good friends of the gay community. Yet they will bring one of the biggest threats to our community right into the heart of it and give him a place to spread his lies and raise money to do us more harm.

I, for one, don't want or need friends who treat me like that, and neither should anyone else who is part of - or friend to - the gay community.

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