Bil Browning

The dirty underbelly

Filed By Bil Browning | January 23, 2007 4:33 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Brandt Hershman, Democrats, gossip, Indiana, local politics, Republicans, scandal

Sometimes you've just had enough. I've hit that point.

I'm angry. I don't want platitudes, promises or to be patted on the head and told "It will all work out in the end." I want to see a difference - and I want to see it now. But what can I do? I've banged my head on the gay rights wall for years - as have several others around the state and country.

While we're slowly making progress in general, I'm still not happy with the end result so far. I look around and I see how these various tactics we've employed - from rallies and shouting to political maneuvering and machinations - have either succeeded, failed or simply fizzled away to some degree or another. It's not enough.

Looking at last year's news cycle, one option had a high degree of success at influencing voters' behavior, setting back a large segment of the conservative movement, and generally providing a modicum of entertainment value for the masses. What was it? "Outing" the hypocrite.

Think Ted Haggard or Mark Foley.

I'm sick and tired of these hypocritical Hoosier legislators who think that my sex life or relationship status is any of their business. Do I intrude on who they're sleeping with? I didn't, but I'm going to start now. I think we need to shame them into doing the right thing and voting against discrimination. We need to show them that unnecessary intrusion into someone else's sex life is not only unwelcome but unwarranted unless it involves children or animals. We need to burn their hand so they won't touch the stove again.

Consider this a call to arms gossip. (We're gay, we can do this tastefully and without violence! *grins*) I want to know the scoop. Tell me the stories that will embarrass those conservative bigots that are backing a constitutional ban on our formalized relationships. Send me gossip about who's a philanderer, a kink fiend, a drug addict, a porn addict, or had a divorce, an abortion or even a stay in rehab. Ask your friends and family for the dirt. Look it up on the internet. Sniff out a lead and send it my way.

tips@bilerico.com

I specifically want to learn more about the alleged blowjob one of our married legislators got caught receiving in the Statehouse parking lot. I also want to know more about the single legislator (with the biggest "gay face" in the Statehouse!) who supposedly got all of his money after a rich non-related older man died and left it all to him. Rumor has it that there's a northern Indiana legislator who's in the closet and a female lawmaker who allegedly had an abortion or two but still ranks as a Super Christian with the Right to Life. I've heard that a couple out-of-town legislators have been spotted visiting the Unicorn Club and the gay baths and that several have a fondness for blow. Do you know who they are? Will you tell me?

I've wrestled with this idea for a long time. Part of me sees this as "outing" and the whole debate that can be had over that. I'm putting the debate to rest as far as I'm concerned though. By introducing this hateful amendment yet again, these bigots have declared war against my family - and that is an attack on marriage.

To start the feeding frenzy, I'd like to offer up a piece that was left in the comments section on January 15. I didn't post on it originally, although Advance Indiana did a piece not too long ago. I couldn't find the article online at the newspaper's site, but a friend did a little digging and got it sourced and a confirmation from the editor. It's legit.

Good Senator Brandt Hershman - he of solidly Christian good American Family Values (and author of SJR-7, the constitutional amendment) - is painted by his ex-wife as anything but Christian and full of familial love. Anyone know how to contact his ex-wife now?

Get the entire article after the jump:

UPDATE: See the following links for more posts on bilerico.com about this topic:
The Dirty Underbelly - the original post
Touch a nerve? - the followup
The story gets out - list of bloggers linking to the post
You're mad too? Welcome to IAN - A way you help to channel some of your anger
"What You People Should Do" - Chris Douglas weighs in
Battling Legislative Hypocricy - Don Sherfick speaks
Looking for Specifics - some info I need based on tips that I've gotten
Weekend Roundup - A roundup of posts on the site and more blogs that are linking to the post

This story appeared Nov. 7, 2000 in the Pharos-Tribune:

Ex-wife of candidate endorsed by Right to Life says that he paid for her abortion in 1997

Indiana Senate District 7 candidate Kathy Altman says Republican Brandt Hershman misrepresented her pro-life stand.

By DAVE KITCHELL
Pharos-Tribune staff writer

The open seat for one Logansport area legislative race is encountering an open season on a controversial issue as the campaign enters its final day.

The former wife of Republican State Senate candidate Brandt Hershman said Monday that his pro-life positions and endorsement by Indiana Right to Life do not conform with his personal beliefs. Tracy Johnson Hershman said when she became pregnant in early 1997, Hershman asked her to have an abortion. On May 30, 1997, she claims he drove her to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Merrillville where he paid for her to abort their child. Hershman asked her for a divorce a week later, she said.

"This is about somebody who really isn't who he says he is," said Johnson Hershman, a former Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger reporter who now resides in Michigan City.

Hershman said he considers her comments a vicious attack that comes from the campaign of his opponent, Democrat Kathy Altman of Monticello.

"It's dirty politics is what it is," said Hershman, who has been a member of Rep. Steve Buyer's staff and formerly worked in the White House during the Bush administration. "I obviously had an unpleasant divorce."

Hershman said the last-minute revelation is similar to the one facing the Republican candidate for president. Last week, George W. Bush was reported to have been arrested for drunken driving in Maine in 1976. Two subsequent arrests also were disclosed.

"They tried it against George Bush and now they are trying it against me," he said. "I won't revisit or wish any ill will to my ex-wife. I will not discuss my ex-wife or my personal relationship with anyone."

Tracy Johnson Hershman, who says she is a Republican, said he forced her to have an abortion. Brandt Hershman said, "I did not force anyone to do anything, ever, period." Tracy Johnson Hershman's response is that he may not have forcibly made her have an abortion, but he made it clear he wanted her to abort their child.

On Oct. 10 this year, the Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee announced it had endorsed Hershman in his race. In the announcement, Mike Fichter, executive director of the PAC, said there is a clear "black-and-white choice" in the race. "Brandt Hershman is firm in his commitment to restoring and protecting the sanctity of life whereas Kathy Altman supports abortion on demand."

Altman, a Roman Catholic with four children, said that is untrue. Altman said she never sought the endorsement of Right to Life.

Hershman said a transcript of a Clinton County debate between the candidates confirms her pro-choice stand. A copy of the transcript provided by Right to Life that pertains to Altman's response to the question "What are your views on the abortion and partial abortion issue?":

"I'm a Catholic. I'm a religious woman. I'm pro-life ... however, I absolutely believe that a woman has a right to choose. I absolutely believe in our Supreme Court's judgment and that it is no one else's decision. It is the woman's right to choose. As far as partial(-birth) abortion, I think its horrorous (sic) because you see these pictures and it's so disgusting -- but it's nothing but another abortion and no abortion is pretty. You see that these are the facts and you don't mess around. But it is a woman's choice."

Hershman said if he is elected, he will support a bill that would require the same health standards for abortion clinics that are required of other Indiana outpatient surgical centers.

"It's where I stand and it's what I believe," he said. "For Kathy Altman to dignify this kind of personal attack is beyond humanity.

"Katie Wolf never had to do anything like this to get elected, and that's what this is about."

"I have said publicly and categorically that I would seek to ban partial-birth abortions and at such time as the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade with the exception of rape, incest and the life of the mother," Hershman said.

In response, Altman, the director of the Indiana Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development, said her position has been misrepresented by Hershman.

"I do not support any type of abortion. I do not support partial-birth abortion."

Hershman said he has kept the campaign between the two of them a clean one.

"I don't attack her beliefs. I don't attack her personally. I don't attack her family. I don't sling mud."

Hershman said he has asked Altman to pull ads, but she has refused.

"I've always been willing to discuss issues in a multitude of public forums, but I won't engage in this kind of public behavior now or later."

At the Indiana Republican Party Fall Dinner Oct. 27, Hershman was selected to lead the invocation. In a release from the Indiana Republican State Committee, State GOP Chairman Mike McDaniel said, "Brandt Hershman represents the future of our state. Hershman supports strong, conservative values."

Tracy Johnson Hershman, who is also Catholic, said her former husband did not want her to go to church.

"If he just got religion, he just got religion," she says.

"I am the one with the Catholic guilt over (the abortion)," she said. "I'm the one who sat there and cried over the entire thing."

The couple had been married since 1989.

Tracy Johnson Hershman said she is not out to assassinate the character of her former husband, but the truth has to be known, but she learned of some of the claims her former husband was making after his campaign supporters called on a former business associate.

Altman and Hershman are vying for the seat held by three-term incumbent Katie Wolf, D-Monticello. The district includes all or part of Carroll, White, Howard, Pulaski, Clinton, Jasper, Tippecanoe and Starke counties.

Dave Kitchell may be contacted at 722-5000, Ext. 5150, or via e-mail at david.kitchell@pharostribune.com


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I don't have any gossip to share, but I applaud the new policy.

Oh hell yeah!!! I couldn't agree with you more and it is about time that our community steps up and plays hardball. Do we get bonus points if we produce pics? This is starting to get fun again. ;)

Yes, pics would get you bonus points. :) Tape recordings, video and IM transcripts will also get goodwill. *grins*

I'm glad to see the local blogosphere lighting up with stories about this post (see A Commonplace Book, Masson's Blog, and Advance Indiana). If you link to the story, leave me a comment and let me know. I want this Call To Gossip to spread across the state. :)

I would also suggest that those who are supporters of all Hoosier families take this call to their MySpace accounts. I'll be sending this out as a bulletin.

I got your back brother! Let's see what kind of dirt is out there!! It's time they feel what they try to make us feel.

What I just put out on MySpace:

Friends,
Hoosier families are under attack. Thanks to the efforts of bigots on the right AND the left, SJR-7 has been reintroduced to write bigotry into the constitution of the State of Indiana.

As you write and call your representatives, please consider doing something else: find out how your representatives live their lives.
By trying to control the lives of tens of thousands of unmarried straight and gay couples and their families, these hypocrites have opened the door to a careful scrutiny of their own lives.

If you have information about the hypocritical lives of the men and women who seek to crush the health and lives of so many, please go to the following site and do what you can:

http://www.bilerico.com/cgi-bin/mt/bilerico-tb.cgi/2137

Thank you for helping put a stop to the madness that is spreading in this country. If you're a Hoosier, please repost and spread the word. If the bigots want a fight, give them one.

Excellent Jay! I am forwarding this to everyone that I know.

Excellent, Bil. I'm with you!! There's a ton of dirt and gossip out there on these scumbags.

Sanctity of marriage? What BS!! While those "defenders of marriage" are abandoning their marriage vows repeatedly, leaving the little wifey at home while they party in the city, while they're screaming about the "family" and conveniently forgetting their previous wives and families...let's nail 'em!!

Effing A! This is war! I really like this idea.

Unfortunately, I have nothing to report right now about Indiana politicians. My friends from Texas tell me that Governor Rick Perry is on the down low though. As you can imagine, he has supported many anti-gay measures over the years.

It's come to this, huh? Sad, but probably necessary.

A couple of questions, Bil:

Who exactly will delvier these tidbits to the senators and/or public? In what forum?

You'll get information. There's plenty out there. Putting a bounty on this kind of gossip will have an effect. It might have to percolate for a couple weeks, but you will be stunned at what you hear.

How you turn that information around, is another story altogether.

Be careful.

One tip: whomever uses this information, in whatever manner (privately with the legislators, publicly at a hearing), had better be crystal clean. I mean, not even a bounced check...these folks play for keeps, and they'll deflect the criticism by attacking the messenger. Attack would definitely be the proper word.

The "kept" younger senator whose "daddy" passed away, is one of the most hateful men on the planet. He will stop at nothing. It's true thwat they say about beady little eyes.

Seriously.

It just hit me! (WHO THE BEADY EYED SENATOR LOOKS LIKE)

EDDIE MUNSTER Anyone with me?

And the senator is just about as devious. Maybe moreso.

Party on Garth, er, Bil.

Jeff Newman | January 24, 2007 8:46 AM

I'm posting this comment on Bilerico and Advance Indiana both:

It's interesting that when talking about our twinkie State Senator with the Sugar Daddy, the bloggers have been avoiding using his name--it's Brent Waltz from Greenwood, who hit the jackpot when he was 19.

This information is public and was published in the Indianapolis Star during the campaign:

During school, he struck up a friendship with George P. Rice Jr., an Indianapolis lawyer, college professor and nationally renowned public speaker. They met through Waltz's parents, who were involved in banking.

Apparently, Rice saw promise, Waltz said, and took him under his wing.

When Rice died in November 1991, Waltz inherited almost all of Rice's property and money. The payout was several hundred thousand dollars, and by all accounts it was well-invested.

My understanding is that a few eyebrows were raised, but for whatever reason it didn't get traction.

The Waltz story is an interesting one all around. Much like the Flogger who took out Bob Garton, Waltz was basically installed by the right wing who had a bone to pick with Phil Borst, so they whacked him in the primary, which basically guaranteed Waltz's election in a heavily Republican district.

The coup was done by using Waltz's money and the Johnson County political machine (if you can believe there is such a thing!), which I understand is more-or-less controlled by Greenwood Mayor Charlie Henderson and his cronies, which include Waltz's Daddy (real Daddy of course, not the dead Sugar Daddy).

He was 30 when he was elected to the state senate, and I'm pretty sure he had never lived anywhere but with Mommy and Daddy in Greenwood until the campaign, at which point I was told he moved into the district. According to a neighbor, he now spends most of his time at his parents' house, and the neighbor believes for all intents and purposes he has moved back in.

What really turned me against Waltz was when he spoke in favor of the amendment when it came up for a vote in the Senate. Had he been a freshman senator who voted wrong because he was afraid of the Republican establishment, it would have been understandable and he may have been deserving of a pass.

But he chose to make it known that he is a bona-fide right-winger and enemy of the GLBT community by giving an unnecessary speech in favor of a measure that had zero chance of failing. The only point of his speech was to demonstrate to the religious right that he was one of them, and he has since consistently demonstrated his loyalty to the far-right wing. I was not surprised to see him sucking up to Eric Miller at Advance America's recent gathering in Greenwood.

Whether he's gay or not is a matter of speculation, and there has certainly been plenty of that. He's never been married, and he was left a fortune by a single man to whom he was not related. Those are all facts, but I suppose none of that is really proof of anything.

Interesting information, Jeff. TYVM.

I'm betting someone or someoneS out there, has more inside info on the good senator.

This is nothing but a big small town anyway.

Gay, or extremely fortunate? If a college professor saw "promise" in a 19-year-old young man, he evidently didn't spend much time talking to the good senator. His intellectual depth is a quarter inch thick and eight miles wide now...I can't imagine what it was 15 years ago.

His education? His business background? Surely there is more info here.

And you're right...the comments he made last go-around on this issue, were political "piling on." The measure was enroute to a clean win, and it didn't need his comments. He was posturing.

I'm told there are at least a half-dozen fellow GOP senators who wouldn't whiz on him if he were on fire. Maybe...just maybe...the ammo can come from one of them?

Marla R. Stevens | January 24, 2007 9:05 AM

Exposing political hypocrisy has always been legit news. You go, Bil!

Jeff Newman | January 24, 2007 9:10 AM

Marla, there is definitely more out there about our little gaydar-triggering State Senator. I was trying to be careful and not post anything that I couldn't back up.

Jeff Newman | January 24, 2007 9:12 AM

Oops, sorry Marla, I see I was answering Anonymous 9:01, not you.

We have be villified long enough. Time to turn the tables. Its the hypocritical lawmakers who ruin the "sanctity of marriage", not us.

Even more reason to get a huge turnout to the Feb. 19th rally at the statehouse. Let them know we mean business!

Wow - look what happens while you're sleeping! *grins* Let me go through since I last checked in...

First, I appreciate Jay's MySpace info, but the URL he gave is wrong. That link just goes to the trackback page which is blank - the correct URL is: http://www.bilerico.com/2007/01/002137.php

7:26 Anon: I don't know who's going to deliver the news. I'm not thinking of using the info as blackmail or a club. I just plan on publishing everything that I can confirm. If we're going to play the politics of personal, then let's play. They don't come to me before they make homophobic, bigoted remarks for all to see and hear - why should I come to them before I hurt their private lives?

Jeff, Thanks for the info on Waltz. Do you have a link to the Star story? Anyone have more information on him?

Thanks to everyone for all the comments and encouragement. It's going to be a long hard slog through the shit. I'm putting on my wading boots though...

Good luck. Happy hunting. Be careful.

Actually, this sounds like a job for...well, you know...a frequent blog commenter who lives in Center Township.

'Just sayin....

Does anyone feel uncomfortable about this goal and its tactics? It seems really dirty - which, has been openly acknowledged - but is this really the best course of action? I understand that you are frustrated and fed up, but what sort of example is this setting? Exposing political hypocrisy is one thing, but actively seeking to hurt people is another. What about the young members of your families who will witness the mudslinging and the subsequent revelry in harming people's personal lives? It all seems more in the spirit of Malcolm X than Martin Luther King. Maybe I'm being too naive or goody-goody about the whole mess, but I'm a bit disturbed. I will probably get many upset responses, but so be it. I feel this is a low point of desperation. Is "by any means necessary" the way to vindication?

Rishawn Biddle's posting a bunch of unformed arguments about this over on the expresso blog - probably would be a good idea to troop over there an help him wrap his brain around this, because he's a bit bobbled.

Here's the thing, Carrie. We've tried playing nice. It hasn't worked. They smile graciously, thank us for our opinions, and then dismiss us without a thought. It's still socially acceptable in most of this country, let alone this state, to discriminate against and say horrible things about gay people. These amendments are being pushed through by legislators with lies and fear as the ONLY driving force.

The people don't really want it, but they'll vote for it simply because most of them don't have any idea what a real gay person is like. They believe the lies and the fear-mongering of the politicians rather than realizing they probably know 15 gay people and don't even realize it.

Most of these politicians pushing this amendment don't believe marriage needs protected or that gays are going to condemn our society to eternal damnation. They're just doing it for the easy vote.

Don't have anything to stand on? Stand on the queers and destroy their lives and families.

It's sickening still that they claim they are doing this out of "moral conscience" or "family values" when they are less "moral" or "family" than those they persecute. The Indiana Statehouse is chock FULL of adulterers, philanderers, cheats, thieves, and yes, even closeted gays. The ones that scream the loudest tend to have the most to hide.

Why should I remain silent? They say my family (partner of 8 years, raising a teenage child) is worth less than theirs. They call me and my family "immoral" and "degenerate". They spread lies about what it means to be gay - that we're sick, that we're predators, that we're carrying and spreading disease. They use lies and fear to make themselves look more moral and pious to an ignorant and disengaged public.

And yet all we want to do is tell the truth. That married legislator X allegedly gets blowjobs in the parking lot of the statehouse and yet definitely calls my family an attack on his. The closeted gay legislator that voted for the amendment supposedly out of fear of being outed. The other rumored gay legislator that voted for the amendment, but inherited a fortune from an old gentleman to whom he wasn't related, but spent all of his time with as a young man.

I could literally go on and on. Every bit of it pretty easy to find out. Some of it's even been in the paper (see the article that was posted on this site by the author of the amendment as but one example.) That's what's so sad about it all. They claim a moral superiority that just doesn't ring true if you go more than skin deep.

Why should we sit by and let them continue to attack us without attacking back? How long do we take the high road and get slaughtered and stabbed in the back?

I say, no more.

Let me share my thoughts on 'outing' people.

When I was much younger, I was even more liberal than I am today.

At age 19 while working in a factory for the summer in Muncie, Indiana, I led a group of UAW workers out the door in an impromptu and unauthorized mini-strike.

When I was in my 20's I was the victim of police brutality when I was beaten bloody and choked during a confrontation in which I stupidly stood up to a group of bigoted Indianapolis police officers who were harassing young gay men on a busy downtown street where we had gathered to socialize together (then referred to as 'cruising').

For the next few years I had more than one confrontation with what seemed then to be a sea of corrupt cops, some of which resulted in arrest and more brutality (Fortunately, today our police department is much more professional, and more tolerant of diversity).

I also lost two jobs when it was discovered that I was gay in the mid-1970's.

Back then, there was nothing we could do. We had to accept it. It was either live in a closet or risk various forms of abuse. The abuse often came from those entrusted with the responsibility to protect all citizens -- the police and prosecutors.

Having lived through that, and having lived in my own closet for a long time, I've long been on the fence about 'outing' people.

But today, the gloves are off. I agree with Bil that we must take this step as part of our arsenal of weapons to stop the bigots and homophopes -- at both ends of the political specturm -- from ripping from us even more of the basic rights guaranteed to us in the US and Indiana constitutions.

To be 'outed' today carries little of the baggage or fear of thirty years ago, or even fifteen years ago. The majority of society is on our side today and it's unlikely that anyone who is outed today will face the potential for brutality that we faced not that many years ago.

I believe that today we have a duty to 'out' any and all hypocritical LGBT men and woman who dare to prey on our community and sell us down the river, whether it's for religious or political gain.

To save time I apologetically have plagiarized "Jay's" post on his MySpace site for an email that am sending to as many people as I can. Thank you Jay.

And thank you Bil for this wonderful idea. By each of us doing just a little bit in this battle, together we can move mountains.

For that 10 year old who today may not yet know they are 'different', and for all the LGBT teens who are entering the prime of their lives soon, it's all too important that we do what we must today so that they have a better life tomorrow.

Joe Miller

Joe and Jerame, your thoughts on this are amazing.
Thank you for saying what has needed to be said for a long, long time.

I'm very surprised by what I'm reading here. The popular vote is to destroy some families to ensure that others may have them. There's something wrong with that.

What is the endgame here?

Do you think that everyone you "out" will be replaced with your friends? For every lawmaker that is displaced, there will be ten more willing to take their place and support the same legislation. What's more, people will start to see "what a real gay person is like" ...

How long before there is a counter backlash against the gay community? To paraphrase Dilbert, never fight dirty with the Right; they will drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.

How will this help advance the community? How will the public come to accept and embrace our message if they see us acting like this?

I just cannot see how pursuing this course of action will ultimately lead to the outcome you seek. I fear that instead of expediting equality, you will hinder those who wanted no part of this, but must face the consequences all the same.

And if you're right? Do you expect history to look kindly on your actions? Will you tell your children that you fought honorably to make sure you had a family? Will they be proud of what you've done?

Will you?

(By the way, this is a public forum, open to all with Google and a bit of time. Perhaps this type of conversation is best left out of the public domain; I wouldn't want someone from the "other" side to happen upon this and make a big deal out of it.)

Dave and Carrie,

You both raise important considerations and make excellent points that we all should heed. I understand where you're coming from, and your contributions here are immensely valuable in helping our community keep a proper perspective on its actions.

I cannot speak for everyone whose comments have been posted, but I don't believe any of these posters are advocating for the destruction of anyone's family. Tough talk by people who have had enough can often appear exaggerated and sound harsher than it really is.

I think every responsible poster here, including both of you, shares a fear that if this amendment passes we risk having little chance of undoing the damage in any of our lifetimes. And that should be a frightening prospect for every Hoosier -- gay or straight.

Again, I can't speak to others' posts, but in my opinion the 'endgame' should be to expose any possible hypocrisy on the part of any of our enemies. Simultaneously we will continue to show the larger community what we are made of. We will show them "what a real gay person is like", as you cleverly pointed out. That we are 'families', too. And that we raise families. That we nurture children in loving and responsible environments just like many of them do. And also that we have had enough and that it's time to put a stop to the gay-bashing. I believe that such a combination gives us a chance to sway public opinion in our favor and thus possibly sway the actions of key lawmakers and others whose votes we need to prevent a tragedy from happening. Or to give courage to a Speaker who can, in one fell swoop, prevent movement this session.

It will be a delicate dance, but I think our community has matured enough that we can count on our leaders to act with the utmost integrity and responsibility. Already IE is scheduling training sessions so anyone who wants to communicate with his or her representatives can do so respectfully, filled with the confidence of knowledge and the persuasion of a passionate strength of conviction. It's easy to do when you have "right" on your side and a little training.

Every year that we can delay a final vote on this amendment is one more year further down the evolutionary path to enlightenment and a sense of fair play that we all know will come one day. Because one day it will be unacceptable for anyone to publicly harass our community. One day it will be unacceptable for elected officials to threaten us or to harm us with laws against our families.

You ask, Dave, if we should "expect history to look kindly on our actions", and if we'll be able to "tell our children that we fought honorably" in the hopes they'll be "proud of what we did". These are serious questions, and go to the heart of what we should all take into consideration. I trust our leaders and our community will rally together in a respectful but no-nonsense frontal attack on this amendment. When you consider the hate crimes bill and the civil rights language that are also being discussed, I believe the community at large will support our position -- if they can just hear our side of the story. Leaders among us such as Mark St. John and John Jonette know the ropes in that regard and have proven themselves in past battles. They'll make us proud this time, too.

As to your wise admonition reminding us that Google will forever be able to spit forth our every utterance here, if we all act with respect and dignity in our efforts we should have nothing to fear in that regard. No matter what happens we will all be able to hold our head up high in a solidarity and Pride that no one can ever take away from us.

As for a backlash, many in our community may fear becoming publicly associated with any effort to move our community forward. It can be a scary proposition. It's up to those who are willing to publicly step forward to try to make sure we are helping to clear a path for those still to step in with us, not to create barriers. Our conduct will go a long way toward that goal.

If there is a backlash, it's difficult for me to envision any scenario that would be much worse than where we are today and where we could be if we don't stop the amendment. But even if worse misfortune should result from our efforts, we only need to look at what other oppressed minorities went through during their long struggles. It's never easy, and it can even be dangerous (Consider what happened to Kathy Sarris many years ago. And just a year ago Councilman Scott Keller received death threats over his support of the HRO. Visit Gary Welsh's blog today and read the hatred that's being espoused there in reaction to Bil's idea).

I've had the good fortune and privilege in my lifetime to sit and talk with some of the most notable civil rights activists in the world. I shared private conversation with Rosa Parks a few years before her death. With me listening to her soft voice, she talked about the dignity of every human being. I'll never forget it. In 1999 I spent a week with Jessie Jackson traveling together up and down Mississippi where I met civil rights advocates who'd been been brutalized and had their lives threatened during the civil rights struggles of the 1960's. They all knew someone, or had a family member who'd been killed in the struggle. A couple of years later I spent an entire day driving his district with a prominent African American member of the U.S. Congress from Mississippi who introduced me to even more activists who were scattered across his huge congressional district. Without exception they all had similar stories. On a trip to Johannesburg South Africa I spent an afternoon with Dr. Nthato Motlana, Nelson Madela's doctor and the man who was arrested with Mandela the first time he was arrested. Dr. Motlana took care of Mandela's family for the quarter century he was imprisoned, the stories he told me were powerful and moving. Later that day Nthato drove me to Nelson Mandela's home to introduce me but we arrived too late, he'd already gone to the airport to catch a flight. Mandela was kind enough to make sure I received a signed copy of his autobiography, full of more gut wrenching stories. In Cape Town South Africa I stood in St George's Cathedral and looked in awe at her ornate and majestic interior while listening to my friend Gary tell me stories about Desmond Tutu having traveled to London on his behalf to personally appeal to the Anglican Church of England to not defrock Gary, who'd recently come out. Gary's stories about Tutu's courageous and powerful opposition to apartheid were chilling. None of us old enough to have seen the images on the news will ever forget the tiny Tutu standing between a crowd of unarmed angry black South Africans and a mob of angry and well-armed white policemen and risking his life to prevent bloodshed that day. I later met Reverend Tutu in Washington DC and was moved by the power of this battle-hardened yet soft spoken gentleman.

Our struggle is as important as any in the history of mankind, but it is highly unlikely any of us will ever have anything to fear that could compare with what those brave men and women went through. Our community's leaders take this very seriously and are prepared to act in accordance.

Dave and Carrie, I'm sure everyone reading this appreciates the value of your input as much as I do. Together we form a true 'Rainbow Nation' that envelops our entire Hoosier state.

Joe Miller

Marla R. Stevens | January 25, 2007 10:32 AM

I echo Joe's words. As someone who has actually exposed the truth in this manner, I know firsthand how gut wrenching it can be -- especially when you've known that person for a long time and care about them but care, too, about achieving the basic rights they are actively standing in the way of and, simply, when you have a job to do.

There's nothing that's been written here that is strategically sensitive or that hasn't been discussed in public in one way or another for years now.

And there's nothing dishonorable about just being honest -- even less so when the honesty is in pursuit of right and good.

As for a backlash, I'm wondering what more that could be done to us that hasn't already been done or is in the process of being done to us right now.

On the other current post on this blog on this topic, it was observed that the public, as evidenced by callers on the radio program Bil was on this morning, suffers rank ignorance about the sweeping scope and substance of SJR-7. This is not something that can be overcome in the short time SJR-7 has in the legislature this session. Many of the legislators who plan to allow a vote on it and will vote for it know it's a bad amendment that doesn't deserve to see the light of day. Those things combined demand our playing some good old-fashioned hardball.

The reality is that we are a minority whose fate is in the hands of a het majority, most of whom do not think of us much and many of whom don't think much of us. But we've made enough progress that the latter bunch are now dividing into several camps -- those who are aware that their views are bigotry and who are desperately trying to avoid that reality, those who have fooled themselves (usually with the help of religion) that they are justified yet kind and loving in it, and those who are defiant in it. Exposing the hypocrisy of those who seek to hurt us is direct (and protest is more effective the more direct it is), couldn't be more relevant, and will blow holes in the claims that they are operating from a righteous place instead of from one of irrationality, greed, lies, political expedience at the expense of the weakest, improper imposition of orthodox religious supremacism into civil law, and other vile reasons.

Now what are we each going to do today to educate the people with a vote on SJR-7 about what it really means and to get others to do the same?

Another thing to keep in mind is the right is very ruthless, and they have plenty of support among law enforcement. And if you don't think cops will do unethical dirty work for high-powered politicians you are naive.

If you smoke pot, go to bars and have a few drinks, or fudge on your taxes, beware. We don't really have a lot of experience fighting dirty. They do.

Joe and Jerame - thank you both for your responses. Jerame, I would argue that I have not advocated that the LGBT community "remain silent." That would obviously not get you anywhere. But I fear that there is profound truth in what Audre Lorde has said... "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." I am also hesitant of movements such as these that go unchecked or unquestioned, especially when they have the very real potential of harming the innocent who are attached to the evil. But Dave and I have now voiced our concerns, and we will most certainly remain in fierce support of our loved ones who choose to embark on this new front. I truly hope it is as successful as you think it will be.

Marla writes:

"...it was observed that the public, as evidenced by callers on the radio program Bil was on this morning, suffers rank ignorance about the sweeping scope and substance of SJR-7."

We can out them, yell at them, expose their hypocrisy, beat them with a stick, whatever. But at the end of the day we're facing the very high probablity of an amendment going to the voters in 2008 no matter what we do.

At what point do we start focusing our efforts on educating the public about this thing? Now seems like it might be a pretty good time.

Joe speaks eloquently, if long...his experiences, and those of all of us, form this tapestry we call "Home."

I heard Bil on the radio show this morning, and he was also eloquent.

One thing I'm not hearing in any of these discussions is the ridiculous duplicitous nature of this Amendment.

I take our Constitutions seriously. To amend them, I want the cause to be just, and ultra-important. The current SJR7 debate is, of course, far-right pandering.

But if we take this logic to its natural conclusion, we shoudlhave Consti. Amendments for every "important" statute we have.

I think the fraud and murder statutes are important. The law seems to have dealt with those, but I think they're so important, why not make Amendments out of them? Ditto with any issue you think is important. See my point?

I thought the far-right neocon crowd wanted government out of my lie. And I thought they didn't like unnecessary laws.

To elevate that ridiculous statute--which will ultimately drive me from this state--to Amendment status is, in the neocons' political dictionary, unneeded duplication.

Carrie and Dave, thank you again for your thoughtfulness and moral compass. I agree that these questions should be raised. We cannot go into this blindly or wantonly or with malice. This is about truth-telling.

These politicians, for the most part, use this issue to prove their chops to the "family values" crowd. This is the family values litmus test of our time. If you don't support passing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, you can't be moral or "family oriented". Rather than stand up to these thugs - who themselves are a small, but powerfully vocal minority - these politicians pander to them and make them believe they are protecting moral family values.

When you are running on a platform of lies, you can't be surprised when someone pulls out one the planks and you fall through. They want to destroy my family and they don't care if that destruction comes by lies or truth. Whatever it takes to win.

The master's tools may never tear down his house, but they can make him think twice about using those tools against my house. This is but one tool in our arsenal. Not everyone will agree and not everyone will participate. That's OK. There are plenty of people out there that think that playing nice, paying lobbyists, or holding rallies isn't terribly effective either.

In most political battles, there's a carrot and a stick. They carry only a stick and, until now, we didn't have a stick of our own. We've repeatedly showered them with kindness - and when the other side is respectful and engaged in a true dialogue, that works - but that's just not what we have here.

They don't care about the truth about gay families, they only care about the power they can grab by abusing our families. We're not on a level playing field.

This reminds me of something my mom used to say...Understand, my mom is 5 ft 4 in., has never weighed more than 110lbs, and grew up in a rough situation with all brothers..."Sometimes, you need an equalizer." It's not playing dirty when you're already outnumbered and/or outgunned to pick up a stick and use it to make things a little more equal.

That advice may not apply in every situation, but it certainly applies here.

Marla R. Stevens | January 25, 2007 11:56 AM

Carrie --

I don't consider telling the truth "the master's tool" -- the tools they use include duplicitously using a false cloak of righteousness behind from to hurt us while being the very things they descry -- in short, they lie both actively and by omission. We propose doing exactly the opposite.

Several --

I don't think of any of these tools as ways of life -- they're just tools. But this one does get people talking and they can't help but talk about the underlying issue when they discuss our tactics in fighting it, whether the discussion about those tactics is pro or con.

Talking about these issues in a world where we don't usually make it onto people's radar screens is almost always in our favor and never more so when the issue is civil marriage equality and an amendment that purports to be about it yet goes so very much further -- well into the lives of het people. The people-in-glass-houses-shouldn't-throw-stones announcement got Bil on that radio program this morning, for example, where he had a chance to discuss SJR-7.

Jeff --

We're not the people pretending to be spotless and saintly. Rarely are whistleblowers so perfect -- and we don't have to be. We just have to be accurate.

-- Marla

Just a NJ blogger here to say we're with you all the way. I've posted your call for information and a link at one of the sites where I post that gets good traffic. As for having qualms about the tactic, those who have them, good for you. You should. It isn't what anyone wants to do. It isn't noble or seemly. It asks us whether the ends justify the means. Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no and we have to come to that on our own when the question arises. For me, the question is whether those who oppose equal rights for all people should continue to operate under cover, acting privately as hypocrites and publicly as keepers of the public virtue?

Um, no, they shouldn't.

Anyway, it isn't right to whack a mule in the head with a 2X4 to get it to move, but sometimes you have to get its attention first, you know?

anony-mouse | January 25, 2007 4:13 PM

How long before there is a counter backlash against the gay community? To paraphrase Dilbert, never fight dirty with the Right; they will drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.

Another brief warning - beware mousetrapping. It would be very easy to feed you false information and then use it to discredit you and drag you through the dirt if your repeated it.

I won't complain about attacking hypocrites... but there's another avenue that I think can work to advance civil rights.

I think that part of the reasons the fight is so tough is that people still see homosexuality as based in sex, not love.

I'm going to say this like it was easy, knowing damn well it's next-to-impossible: if you can convince people "gay is about who you love romantically; it's who you love that determines who you sleep with", you won't win the extremists, but you'll gobsmack the quiet supporters. It's the quiet supporters who cause the anti-marriage proposals to win.

To me, the tool in question is of making people's personal and sexual lives the business of the public as an act of malice and manipulation (whether it is deserved or not). And I understand that there are certain reasons that this is felt as the most appropriate course of action, as I have stated before. I have also stated before that I think there will be certain consequences of these actions that may affect the children and families of those you seek to out and publicly embarrass for being hypocrites. Maybe this is necessary for progress, but it does not sit well with me and it never will.

It is not my place to tell you what is right and what is wrong - it is certainly not my place to judge. This path is not the right one for me and I will not participate in it. But that said, I will again reiterate my complete support and love for my family and friends and colleagues who have determined this plan a neccessary part of the fight for freedom and justice.

I don't have dirt on anyone, but I am *totally* with you in spirit.

Marla R. Stevens | January 25, 2007 7:15 PM

Carrie --

May I please recommend to you Richard D. Mohr's Gay Ideas: Outing and Other Controversies which, although it appears to be out of print, is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Gay-Ideas-Outing-Other-Controversies/dp/0807079200/ref=ed_oe_h/002-1218672-5763257

Mohr shares your concerns about tone and intent -- "malice and manipulation" as you put it -- as do I (it should give one pause as you're right that the human consequences can be powerful, the pain not limited to the target, and the risk of getting worse a sometimes a hard reality) while laying out the best argument for truth-telling I've ever read. It's not an easy read -- Mohr's writing is very dense as befits the philosophy professor he is -- but the essay covers all the bases.

One of the most important aspects of the essay is the discussion on the differences between privacy and secrecy. I think you'd find it a compelling read although I'm pretty sure it will not change your opinion altogether -- just give you plenty of additional food for thought.

Thanks Marla! I will most definitely check it out.

It appears the vast majority of what I've read is geared toward those on "the right", although some small mention is made to "those on both sides" of the political spectrum in campaign to "out" those in opposition to your beliefs. It should be noted that many self labeled "conservative" Democrats in the House favor and would vote for such a resolution yet never receive the scrutiny of their personal life commonly reserved for GOPer's. And hasn't House Speaker Bauer gone on record stating he will not allow such a resolution to advance in the House this year? Without adoption of both Houses from two consecutive Assembly's such a resolution cannot be placed on the ballot, so I don't understand why your efforts aren't focused on holding Speaker Bauer to his word - a supposed ally and friend of the GLBT community?

While not as scandalous as some of the above requested tactics, it's not at all "playing nice" but rather the real political hardball game of common sense and accountability from those in the position to make a lasting difference instead of contributing to another sordid headline. Just one opinion.

Thanks for the kind words and warnings everyone. I appreciate it.

I'm also enjoying the back and forth between Carrie and Dave and some of the rest of you. I think the two of them are raising some valid issues that we need to look at, address and possibly compromise on.

I think one of the best parts of running a blog is the comments section. I enjoy hearing several ideas on the best way for us to accomplish something as a community. Perhaps that's one of the problems I have with the amendment - the "other side" is trying to shut off all debate by passing an amendment.

Keep discussing. Keep passing the word. Keep talking to your friends and family - not just for gossip but also about SJR-7. Keep making a difference.

This is absolutely beyond FABULOUS! You also have a link at www.towelroad.com

I have a few stories about our good buddy Dick Lugar and his love for the one-eyed love monster! How about State rep.-- or is he a senator-- J.Merritt(whose daddy owns Ross and Babcock) and who also has a perpensity for golf and you know, golf SIMPLY IS NOT golf at the Club unless one drinks in excess and then has to drive home!

I've thought about this for 24 hours now--and I still think it's the right thing to do. Not happy about it, but it's right.

With calm, reasoned accuracy and laser-beam focus. Get the info (you will get gossip), check it out as best you can, don't fall victim to the mousetraps noted by others, and use the information wisely.

If those against whom some of this info will be based, can't stand the heat, well, you know.

An earlier post indicated (I think it was Kevin) that Speaker Bauer had promised not to bring this up. Wrong-a-mundo, Kevin. That was in the past. Now, thanks to our remaining largely silent, he IS allowing it to come forward for a vote on the House side. So we're in a defensive pattern out of the blocks. Brilliant, huh?

And as for the post discussing 08 Amendment ballot strategy...there is no strategy that will work. We dont have enough time and money. If this goes to the voters, we'll lose at least 2-1. And the right-wingnuts who will flock to the polls will mean, conservatively (no pun intended), the House will probably go to 55 or 60 Republican seats. This ballot Referendum has that kind of drawing power. If you doubt it, look around the country. Sadly. Kiss the Governor's office goodbye, which is almost a gift to Republicans, because MMM is screwing up this state at a record pace.

But I digress...later with the strategy and our failure to hold Bauer accountable to US. For now, let's respond to the calls of our community's leaders and show up at hearings, and pray for Bil's blog post to hit a home run.

(It will.)

there are many people who are willing, able, and actually doing all those good, kind, and right things that they see as the best way to gain their rights.

for the rest of us. YES!!! degrade, destroy, annihilate.

do they care about us? no. they've shown that by thier repeated actions. now we have the means to fight back. let's use it

damage to the community? pride to the community!

In thinking about the approach you're taking here, it might be helpful to consider the difference between showing someone to be a hypocrite vs. shaming someone for their sexual behavior or "morals." Most of us who are gblt or queer would argue that sexual shaming has to stop--we've had enough of it--and our nation's code of "morality" is sorely lacking. My view is that there's nothing inherently wrong with having sex in all its glorious forms nor is there anything inherently wrong in having sex outside of marriage or with two or more people so long as everyone involved is in agreement that this is what they want. What's wrong is declaring that one particular form of sex and morality is right, forcing others to live by that code, and then doing the opposite in your own personal life. Focusing on the hypocrisy of the legislators without simultaneously pushing the view that certain sexual acts or desires are wrong might seem tricky to pull off, but if you can do it, you could make a case not only against legislative hypocrites but also for individual sexual freedom.

Though I don't totally disagree with the above poster (Debra) I would however like to point out that these lawmakers are the ones making these rules of morality. If their lives can hold up to the same standards, then I guess they won't have a problem. The hypocrites that are trying to legislate discrimination (and have a little strange on the side), sounds like they are gonna have a problem. Again Debra, we ain't settin the rules but we will shove the rules that "they" set right back down their hypocritical throats.

I'm in, I posted about this on my blog now. Great idea. It's time to expose this damn hypocrisy.

http://www.xtra-rant.com/2007/01/26/2193/