After a few negative posts on bilerico.com about the Kris Kiser for Congress campaign, I thought it appropriate that we veer back towards what bilerico.com readers are more interested in - the issues.
As background, Kiser, an openly gay man, is running against Democratic incumbent Julia Carson. Carson is a gay-friendly politician who's held the seat in Congress for several years. This primary race is being watched closely by the Indianapolis LGBT community.
I submitted five questions to both candidate's campaigns. Here are the answers returned by Representative Julia Carson. (See Five Questions for Congressional Candidate Kris Kiser for Kiser's answers.) Remember folks, bilerico.com is the only place where you can read detailed statements from the candidates on the issues you care about. We'll continue our candidate interviews and coverage of the elections as the year goes on.
1. What are your stances on the following issues?
2. What is your opinion of local civil rights protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity such as the one recently adopted by the City of Indianapolis? How have you been involved in the community's efforts to secure legal protections and general acceptance?
a. Proposed Amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage:
I am opposed to efforts to amend the Constitution to limit the rights of our people--this contradicts our entire history and our basic values as a nation.
b. Funding for HIV/AIDS services, prevention programs, research:
I have long been an active and energetic supporter of funding for HIV/AIDS services, prevention programs and research. Many who have followed the history of the effort in Indiana will recall that, as Ryan White lay hospitalized at Riley Children's Hospital, I battled in our State Senate to help the General Assembly understand that our state and our nation faced a very real health crisis, by calling attention to Ryan's situation and taking Elton John, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, along with state legislators, to his bedside. In Congress I have worked hard to increase funding for efforts to address and turn back this terrible disease. This fight is not over.
c. Civil rights protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity:
I am a sworn enemy of discrimination on account of race, gender and sexual orientation and have long worked in that cause. Here in Indianapolis those who followed the matter will recall that I worked hard to see to it that our City-County Council understood the importance--the fundamental fairness--of protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I was gratified when the council finally voted correctly, against bigotry, a familiar old enemy.
d. The war in Iraq:
War is a dire and serious matter, never to be undertaken lightly. I cast the 7th District's vote against resolution for war in Iraq and would do so again. I believe that it continues to do our nation great harm with its terrible toll of lives spent, bodies maimed, money wasted and enemies made around the world, all without real benefit to our national interests. We must get out and leave the resolution of conditions there to the people of Iraq.
e. Federal environmental protections:
I have long worked, first in our General assembly and then in Congress, for clean air and water, for protections against poisons that threaten the health of our people, young and old alike, and for protection of our natural treasures from exploitation. Lead and arsenic poisoning have been special targets of mine in the Congress. And, I have helped secure millions of dollars to help our city address the combined sewer overflows that plague our streams. Global warming has placed the fate of our world in real peril and must be addressed before it is too late. There is more to be done and I continue to do it.
f. Federal funding for affordable housing and homeless programs:
Time and again I have helped to secure funding for our local efforts to provide better affordable housing, including the exciting blend that is Fall Creek Place. Homelessness remains a national scandal: estimates are that 25% of the adults who are homeless in this city on any given night are veterans of military service. Not only have I worked to secure funding for efforts to help them, I donated an apartment building around the corner from my home to help house 13 formerly homeless veterans in transition from the streets. It is an outrage, especially as our veterans stream home from Iraq, that anyone who has served the nation in uniform in time of our need is left without shelter. In this Congress I am the author of the Bringing America Home Act, comprehensive legislation to address a broad range of issues related to housing the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.
g. Reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program:
TANF has worked well and I have always supported its reauthorization, expansion and improvement, and opposed efforts to decrease its fairness.
Indianapolis is my home. The treatment of our people and the improvement of their lives has always been vitally important to me. I worked hard for the passage of the ordinance, helping individual counselors to understand its importance as a matter of basic democratic and human values, and would do it again to make our city a better place. In Congress I work to support efforts to advance human rights and oppose efforts to erode those rights.
3. What do you see as issues of importance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community? In what way would you assist in addressing these issues?
In these times we are all threatened by any effort to use the law to limit the lives and opportunities of any of our people. I am an experienced--but outnumbered--legislator but I will continue to fight against efforts at limitation wherever they are found and against the bigotry that powers those efforts. This is simply part of who I am.
4. How do you see your relationship with the local LGBT community?
When I first went to serve in Congress, I did not go alone. I took with me the hopes and dreams, the aspiration and the aims, of all of the people of the district and I am proud to continue that service, keeping in mind the concerns of my constituents. I have long enjoyed the support and counsel of people of all walks and ways of life and my service has been enriched by that support. This is as true of the church community of many faiths, the business world of many interests, workers of all sorts in healthcare, academia, manufacturing and other vocations, as it is of the LGBT community's diverse members.
5. Why do you believe you are the best person to represent the citizens of Indiana's 7th Congressional District?
I don't just talk, I listen. These are times of great tribulation for our country. Indianapolis has long been my home. I have invested a life of service to the improvement of our city and the lives of our people. I have represented the 7th District and her people well and in an honorable fashion, and will continue to do so, with the needs of all of the people and the direction of the nation very much in mind. This is the work of the Congress I have been proud to do and look forward, with your support, to continuing.