The following is a guest post by Anita Brown, a Ball State student and community organizer. If you can assist Anita, please send her an e-mail.
Members of GLBT Collegiate Community:
I am a graduate of Ball State University and former president of their GLBTSA, Spectrum. While continuing to advocate for the GLBT community I have run into some difficulty trying to combat some serious issues. By now you may be aware of an extremely damaging bill going through the Indiana legislature. SJR 7 is a bill designed not only to attack same sex marriage, but also to discontinue the benefits already afforded to same sex domestic partners and their children by more tolerant employees across Indiana. Unfortunately this amendment to the Indiana constitution needs only one more approval in the House before being sent to the public to decide the fate of the minority. I believe that this situation is damaging not only for Indiana but for America in general.
People have been debating for a while whether states or the federal government should decide on marriage rights. Since the U.S. congress has been dragging their feet on this issue (only dusting it off around November), some states have already taken the initiative with disastrous results, others however have chosen to reject government sponsored discrimination. I believe this creates a startling future problem vaguely reminiscent of the past. I believe this will create a sort of "reservation" situation mimicking the treatment of Native Americans in the late 1800's. The GLBT community will be forced to decide to live as half citizens in some areas or uproot their lives and move to other areas to gain the full rights of every other American.
Another topic being passed around the Indiana Assembly has been the so-called "Brain Drain." Indiana students go to Indiana colleges and universities, graduate, and move to other areas for this reason or that. Legislators are passing around ideas and approving bills to allow major businesses into the state so they can turn highly paid Indiana minds into Indiana tax dollars and general commerce for the economy. This ideology and SJR 7 come to a remarkable conflict. Indiana wants to keep their graduates but not the gay ones? When I spoke to him last, my own senator claimed that this wouldn't be an issue. This concept infuriated me as I hope it does for you also, because here is where your organization comes in. We want to let them know what they're missing.
I am attempting to compile a list of statistics to present to the legislature in a project entitled Reject the Reservation. It would include a rough number or college students involved with the GLBTA community and a list of their areas of study, illustrating the idea that if this bill is passed, there will be this many fewer taxpayers loyally bound to their state and their budget. The list will only contain numbers, no specific student names, to maintain confidentiality. I would also like to include the contact information for your organization in case the legislators want to verify that these numbers were actually obtained from your group. If your organization would like to participate all that is necessary is contact information for a group spokesperson, a total number of organization members or GLBT persons and allies polled, and a tally of their majors, for example: Total Students: 30, Elementary Ed: 6, Pre-Law: 3, etc. Feel free to tally GLBT students and allies outside your organization membership who would also consider moving out of an intolerant state. The more numbers we can present the better. The General Assembly's deadline for final presentation of legislation for the session is April 10. I would appreciate your results by March 26 so I can compile the findings in time to present them to legislators. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by phone or email with the information presented below. Thank you for taking a step to prevent legalized discrimination and promoting a tolerant future for Indiana and America.