Chris Douglas

Driving Home a Point to Indiana Republicans

Filed By Chris Douglas | November 22, 2006 7:56 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Carl Brizzi, Indiana House Republican Caucus, Jon Elrod, Katherine Densborn, Marion County

The voters have spoken in Indiana's Marion County, and it's important to understand one of their messages: The Republican Party, both locally and statewide, must now stop its attacks on the glbt community if it is to achieve an electoral majority in a close election. In my opinion, the GOP's past overt hostility to glbt citizens cost it control of the Indiana House in this election.

What is the Evidence that hostility toward the GLBT community pushed the GOP into the minority in the Indiana House?

Two races races in Marion County would have prevented a GOP minority: Elrod v. Mahern and Densborn v. Orentlicher.

While the jury is still out out on the Elrod/Mahern race, the jury would already be in and ruling for Mahern had Jon Elrod not conveyed a powerful message of principle and inclusion to the glbt community. Elrod has so far succeeded in a Democratic district in a Democratic
year.

What did Elrod do to the convey his message of inclusion? Based on a libertarian principle, he made powerful statements to the glbt community against the attempt to amend the Constitution to define marriage. He attended glbt community events to meet glbt voters and convey that message personally, including the community's flagship fund-raising dinner for Lambda Legal Defense and the meet and greet of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. His sincerity was apparent both in the positions he took and in his readiness to be seen as a public ally of the glbt community.

Jon Elrod would have done even better, and a margin of victory completely assured, had many Republican-leaning members and allies of the glbt community not been afraid of returning an aggressively hostile Republican majority to control of the House. But even in that circumstance, Elrod made it possible for gays (at least 5% of the population by scientific poll, or 1 in 20 voters) to speak favorably of him amongst themselves and to their families, friends, co-workers, and parishioners.

On the other hand, Katherine Densborn, a respectable candidate in a Republican district, fell far short. Densborn made it impossible for gays to consider a vote for her. As a candidate, while expressing a willingness to talk, she also expressed an intent to back the Republican majority's attempt to amend the Constitution invalidating its equal protection of gblt citizens. And she expressed reservations about public nondiscrimination measures, though these measures are now the law in Indianapolis.

Through her lack of support for the glbt community, she assured that her share of glbt voters could not vote for her, and instead would vote for her opponent. But it doesn't stop there. Her stated intent to support the House majority's aggression against the Constitution, even while entertaining some reservations about its impact, ensured that parents, family members, and friends of glbt citizens could not feel comfortable voting for her either.

Every citizens is born of two parents, and glbt citizens are no different. For every 1 in 20 citizens who are glbt community members, therefore add an average of 2 citizens who take personal family offense at the House Republican rhetoric against gays. All 3 of these citizens are as likely to have Republican leanings as Democratic, were they not driven away from support of the GOP. Consequently, even in a Republican District, Densborn went down hard.

In contrast, Republican Carl Brizzi, whose statements on nondiscrimination were strong, who attended glbt flagship events and Rainbow Chamber meet and greets, who earned the active campaign support of Republican glbt members of Log Cabin (a glbt Republican organization) , who (I understand) has relatively conservative views on life/choice, won handily in the same district Densborn lost.

In Summary

Scientific polling demonstrates decisively that the topic of same sex marriage ranks low in priority among voters, no matter their opinion of it. Very few will base their vote for the
Republican Party on its anti-gay positions because it is a topic of such low popular importance. But a great many must on the basis of that same position choose to vote against the Party because they know for them personally, for their family members, for their friends, or for their co-workers, the Party's aggression strikes deeply and destructively.

In this close election, that dynamic moved the Republican Party into the minority in Indiana's House and lost the Party the control it had over the state's economic agenda.

This message cross-posted from First Republicans Forum.

(From our Principles: FIRST REPUBLICANS BELIEVE in equal rights, equal protection, equal justice, equal opportunity and equal responsibilities for all people, regardless of race, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or national origin.)


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Excellent thoughts, Chris.

Elrod may have gotten more votes had his opponent not been one of the GLBT community's staunchest supporters. Rep. Mahern stood against the Amendment when it came up for a vote--in a distinct minority. May his tribe multiply. Also, it appears turnout in that district was sub-standard.

Densborn was just scary. On a variety of issues.
Although I thought her yard signs increased her visibility, from what I've heard, they darned near caused some accidents. As if anyone was ever elected solely on the strength of yard signs.

Plus, her opponent is one of the House's brightest minds, and another strong supporter of our community. He stumbled on a couple of campaign issues, but overall, he ran a brilliant campaign. Which he does 24/7, 52 weeks a year. He's everywhere. Listening. What a concept.

And I feel obligated to offer again, Chris--there's room for you on the "other side."

Peace.