Chris Douglas

"World Turned Upside Down"

Filed By Chris Douglas | October 15, 2005 1:33 PM | comments

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That is the name of the tune that the British army played during their formal surrender to their former colonies. An important event marking a sea change.

I have had this sensation in observing progress in the Marion County Prosecutor's office for the glbt community. (ALL the community... my understanding, confirmed subsequent to the article, but yet to be verified, and therefore perhaps still incorrect... is that gender identity is in the policy that is being formalized in Brizzi's office.) Carl Brizzi has moved on an inclusive hate crimes bill and on nondiscrimination in his office. I am pleased to report that I had nothing to do with it.

I have felt integrally involved or informed, if not necessarily the prime mover, in every step of progress that has taken place within the Republican Party in Indiana on the topic of glbt civil rights. (That has included Sue Anne Gilroy's 1999 campaign pledge to the gay community on nondiscrimation based on sexual orientation, which preceded that of her opponent, Bart Peterson, by 4 years; the Republican Senate's embrace of sexual orientation, and accomodation of gender identity, in the 2000 Hate Crimes Bill; Todd Rokita's campaign pledge incorporating gender identity, which was the first concern expressed explicitly for the transgendered community by a major public official in Indiana; and Candidate (now Governor) Daniels' pledge of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and his public statement that same sex couples have rights as couples that perhaps ought to be accomodated in the law. I have at least been in the loop on Scott Keller's positions on nondiscrimination, which required no pressure, but is heartfelt on his part.

Brizzi's nondiscrimination statement, and his backing of an inclusive hate crimes law, represents the first time that I have ventured to contact a Republican office holder in order to catch up, rather than to press.

The gay community has done a great deal to advance the cause of glbt civil rights in the last several years. The community has stood up loudly, publicly, and with dignity, and has pressed and pressured across the aisle, ceding to no one our position in mainstream society. We have contributed to a sense of discomfort among conservatives for their entrenched prejudice and among moderates for their awkward silence. But we have also contributed to an atmosphere in which progressives may be moved finally to act publicly on behalf of our civil liberties.

We've been forced to do a lot of hard rowing along the banks in Indiana, sometimes against strong backwaters. Brizzi's action, a product not of our pressure, is evidence that the bow of our boat is finally finding the favorable current of the majority's mainstream.


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AUTHOR: Chris Douglas

DATE: 10/15/2005 02:32:34 PM

I hasten to amend my own piece. Democratic progressive politicians have not been shy on our behalf, as well as and should be credited. But they have been faced with an environment in which moderates and conservatives of both parties have shown so little willingness to support as to render the prospect of any successful progressive action problematic. My point is that when a successful moderate or progressive Republican politician publicly embraces progressive change without our pressure or apparent involvement, it is a sign of a tipping point in which the moderate middle swings to the progressive. That should be emboldening for all our allies. It is seeing progress on the Republican side, that had little or nothing to do with direct glbt communication and pressure, that is significant in the larger context, boding well for the future of our rights.