Seth Kreigh, my daughter and I attended a townhall meeting in Lawrence on Tuesday evening. Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and my state senator, Jim Merritt, hosted it. (Russell Brown, whom I've endorsed here on bilerico is running against Merritt.) Interestingly enough, we ran into Ed Fox, another bilerico contributor, at the gathering. Hopefully, they'll add their thoughts to the post.
As the newly elected president of the Indiana Action Network (IAN), I wanted the chance to question Bosma specifically about the state constitutional amendment. IAN protested Bosma's fundraiser last year and called him out for lying at an Eric Miller rally a couple years ago. Both Seth and I wore our IAN t-shirts. I signed up to ask a question and settled in to wait.
The two politicians started the show talking about themselves and how wonderful the Republican party is - usual fare for these sort of things. Then they sat down and the audience started asking questions - and they covered all sorts of topics from street repairs to tax credits for environmentally friendly home construction. One gentleman asked a question about the proposed amendment focusing specifically on the second part and how dangerous that section is to everyone. He commented that he hoped the debate on the amendment could be civilized.
During his answer to the man's question, Bosma commented that during Pat Bauer's tenure as Speaker of the House there was no debate on the amendment and that at the time he didn't really feel like the amendment was that important - but that the debate was. He felt that if Republicans wanted to bring up the topic then the Democrats should be willing to discuss the topic, was what I gathered. He stated he was worried "activist judges" would decide the subject for the state instead of letting the people discuss and decide. For the record, Bosma did indicate that he would be investigating "Part B" of the amendment although he kept assuring everyone that legal scholars had already looked at it thoroughly and assured him it was perfectly fine.
After a few more people got up, it was my turn. My question was: "Despite the fact that you said earlier that the unnecessary amendment wasn't that important, that it was the debate, not too long ago - a couple three years ago - you became a champion of the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, in fact, you called it "the most important of the people's business." Can you tell me, with a law already on the books to ban same sex marriage that has been upheld by those "activist judges" you're worried about, the appeals court - they agreed with you, by the way - what it is about my family - my partner and I, our 12 year old daughter, our two dogs and a cat - that threatens yours? What do you need protection from? If your amendment doesn't pass, will you suddenly divorce your wife? Will you disown your children? Melt the wedding rings? Don't you think that this amendment is an unnecessary slap at LGBT Hoosiers? What has my family done to you that you would start attacking us? What do you need to protect your marriage from?"
As I'd called him out as to how important the amendment was, Bosma started backpedaling. He agreed he'd said the quote but felt like he had to explain it. "Hyperbole" he called it. "Exageration." And then he said something I never thought I'd hear him say...
Listen to the clip (301 KB) or click after the fold for a rough transcript. That's right, folks, Bosma is admitting that a constitutional amendment isn't really high on his priority list. And if it's not a priority this year, does this mean they'll focus on education, the environment, employment, crime, or health care? Don't get your hopes up... Still, it was interesting to see him backpedaling on his earlier crusade about gay marriage being the end of the world.
The rest of his reply was the standard "I've got nothing against you or your family" crap. You always know there's a "but." What they never say is "but my family is more important than yours and should have a special status" which is what it all boils down to... I asked a follow up question asking him again if an amendment wasn't just a mean spirited attack on LGBT families since there was already a law on the books. Isn't this just a wedge issue? He politely complained about "activist judges" again.
Seth was next up and asked Bosma if he was in favor of repealing domestic violence laws and cited the Ohio cases where a similar amendment caused the overturn of domestic violence cases where the two parties weren't married. Bosma again indicated that he was willing to re-examine the second part of the amendment. He even told the audience that if the amendment was changed to drop Part B, the process would start all over.
We need to get Bosma (and other legislators) to understand how dangerous that second part of the amendment is. I don't think we'll ever be able to convince them that the amendment is unnecessary, but I've been proven wrong before. I wouldn't mind if the amendment was delayed by another two more years - polls show that more young people support LGBT civil rights and it gives us longer to get our message out to the people. Hoosiers are, for the large part, a fair-minded group. With Bosma admitting that the amendment isn't an important part of "the people's business," perhaps we've got a chance after all.