Jerame Davis

Profiles in Cowardice - Rep. Milo Smith

Filed By Jerame Davis | March 29, 2007 5:08 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: constitutional amendment, Cummins Engine, House of Representatives, Indiana, LGBT families, marriage, SJR-7

r59.jpgToday's profile is on Rep. Milo Smith (R - Columbus). It's appropriate to point out here that Smith represents my home town and most of my family lives in his district - House District 59.

Recently, Mr. Smith was quoted in the Columbus Republic as saying:

I will support the marriage amendment, because I believe it's between one man and one woman and God. That's a position I'll take and will continue to take as long as you guys elect me to serve you. (3/27/07)

Rep. Smith's fear of voting against this heinous piece of legislation is contrary to his own legislative goals, a number of his constituents' beliefs, and even his own family.

Let's look into this a little deeper, shall we? (Continues after the jump...)

According to Rep. Smith's website, he stands for "limited government" and, "promoting a Hoosier economy that creates high-paying jobs" among other things. I'm not sure how defining relationships and enshrining a second class of citizens in the constitution is anything remotely close to limited government. Oh, wait. I get it now. Limited government means limiting government to only those God has told him deserve it. Now it all makes sense...

Maybe that sensibility will attract the highly-educated, highly-qualified, people who are going to fill those high-paying jobs Rep. Smith wants to create. Oh, I guess that's not going to work out as planned either. You see, highly-educated, highly-qualified people don't like living in areas where intolerance, bigotry, and religious dogma are the laws of the land.

Being from the Columbus area myself, I happen to know that a good number of Smith's constituents are 100% opposed to SJR-7. Aside from people like my family, countless other families and even Cummins Engine Co. Cummins is what puts Columbus on the map. They are the only remaining Fortune 500 company (there were 3 at one time) headquartered in Columbus. They are one of the largest employers in our state. They generate a fair number of those high-paying jobs Mr. Smith wants to see in Indiana. Yet they are staunchly opposed to SJR-7. Does Mr. Smith want to explain to Cummins how SJR-7 will create demand for high-paying jobs when they say it will do exactly the opposite? I'd like to be there for that meeting.

In conversations with Rep. Smith, Columbus constituents expressed their grave concerns about SJR-7 and the impact it will have on families in Columbus. Mr. Smith gave indications to several people that the position Cummins took on this issue would have an effect on his own position. I wish I could see that in his statement to The Republic, which came out after Cummins opposed the amendment.

Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that Rep. Smith stands against his own family. Rep. Smith's son is gay. Privately, Mr. Smith has stated that he is not opposed to civil unions or gay relationships, but that he simply believes that his faith tells him that marriage is between a man and a woman. Somehow, he doesn't understand (or doesn't care) that SJR-7, as it is written, would not allow for civil unions, domestic partnerships, or other benefits to same-sex couples. What's more, his son is part of the "brain drain" that opponents of SJR-7 have been decrying for years. Having moved out of state years ago, Mr. Smith's son is a glaring example of good Hoosiers who are fleeing our state for more diverse, vibrant, and tolerant locales.

Perhaps Mr. Smith doesn't believe SJR-7 would affect his son since he has escaped to a more progressive state. However, what Mr. Smith is missing are those nasty unintended consequences of this poorly written and discriminatory amendment. For example, let's say that Smith's son has a partner and he and his partner come to Indiana to visit the family. During the hypothetical visit, there is an accident that hospitalizes the partner. There is more than a chance that under SJR-7 Representative Smith's son would not only not be allowed to make life or death decisions for his partner, but he could potentially be barred from even seeing him while in the hospital.

Another example of how this could potentially affect Mr. Smith's family: What happens if his son and his theoretical partner get into a squabble that turns violent while visiting Indiana? (Don't get me wrong here, I am sure Rep. Smith's son and his hypothetical parter are fine, upstanding citizens.) Does Mr. Smith want to explain why he feels his own son isn't deserving of the same domestic violence protections he and his wife enjoy? I'm sure that would be an awkward dinner conversation.

So, why is Rep. Milo Smith voting for this terrible, offensive, and unnecessary amendment to our constitution? Why is Rep. Smith voting against his own son's ability to ever come back to Indiana and live happily with a spouse of his own choosing? Why is Rep. Smith ignoring the business interests of the only Fortune 500 company left in his district and one of Indiana's largest employers? Why is he voting against his own stated goals and alleged personal feelings?

The only explanation I can come up with is cowardice. He's afraid of taking a principled stand against a bad law. He's frightened of standing up for a founding principle of our nation - the staunch protection of a minority from a tyrannical and unjust majority. He's too scared to stand up for his own flesh and blood even.

Can he be so certain that his vote for SJR-7 won't cause him the same political consequences he fears from voting against it? The hundreds of contacts I have in House District 59 will certainly know my position on Rep. Smith and his inability to overcome his fears and protect his own family by doing the right thing.

Because if he won't stand up for his own family, how can you trust him to stand up for yours?


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That last sentence was a GREAT campaign line! Please tell whoever runs against him to use it.

I'm quite disturbed by his definition of marriage including "God" since nothing in the Indiana marriage statutes refers to marriage as a relationship with God. His remarks certainly border on violating the bill of rights concerning not making legislation favoring one religion. He also appears to be claiming that those who marry before a justice of the peace are somehow required to be married in the eyes of "God." Clearly, the Rep. is against civil marriage ceremonies in their entirety, and thus must be supporting legislation to remove the rights of those who do not "marry" God from eligible participation in the Indiana marriage laws.

A few years ago USA Today reported that some 40% of the population chose not to marry in churches. . .would the representative care to elaborate on his statement concerning the definition of marriage? Or is there something about this amendment that is designed to force people to marry under state-appointed clergy?

Mike/Columbus | March 29, 2007 10:42 PM

A large group of Milo's constituents, (Columbus G/SA) asked over a month ago to meet with Milo. A Legislative Assistant from his office returned the call, and asked what the meeting was about. When told SJR7, the assistant said Milo would call us back... four weeks later, and we are still trying to get a meeting with him.

Hey Mary, is Milo Smith our next Dick Cheney?

Marla R. Stevens | March 30, 2007 11:50 AM

Members of my family have been planning a historic reunion of all the families with ties to Monticello that will take place in Charlottesville, Virginia, this July. They're very upset that my wife and I, who have been leaders in the reconciliation of the various parts of our family, will not be able to attend due to Virginia's draconian recent changes in its constitution and statutes regarding marriage -- one of the worst of which is a constitutional amendment with Part B language.

We patiently explain that our couples documents figuratively melt as soon as we set foot in that state, that the legal decisions regarding such measures have been not in our favor, and that legal experts we've consulted have inconsistent, sometimes conflicting opinions regarding the scope of the laws' effects -- enough to make it irresponsible for us to enter the state.

I wonder if Milo thinks his son irresponsible enough to visit Indiana should SJR7 pass in its present form.

I want to remind Milo and other Hoosier legislators supporting this hateful amendment that my wife and I were religiously married in Indiana nearly twenty-three years ago and, due to the fact that SJR7 cannot trump the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (or the protections governing freedom of religion in the Indiana one, for that matter), nothing in his amendment would affect our religious marriage nor prevent the religious marriage of same-sex couples in Indiana in the future. It will only prevent equal access to civil marriage for same-sex couples, and civil unions, domestic partner benefits, and the like for all Hoosiers as well as significant protections for all unmarried couples.

Now that's a big "only" but it cannot be big enough to dictate religious marriage.

If banning religious marriage for same-sex couples is part of what he's trying to do -- and I can only take him and virtually every proponent of these bans I've ever heard of at their word that that's what they're really after -- then I can't help but marvel at the magnitude of this collective disconnect from reality.

I asked Rep. Smith this morning how adopting a Constitutional amendment denying same-sex persons access to the legal and financial priviledges automatically provided by law to heterosexual married couples 'fits' with these words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" (Do those words sound familiar?)

And, further, I asked him to ponder this question: "Just exactly *whose* happiness will the amendment advance?" That's a difficult question for amendment proponents to answer.

(BTW: I wasn't aware that he has a gay son, if that indeed is true.)

ChoiceNotChance | March 22, 2011 10:32 AM

The Chamber of Commerce hosts Third House Sessions every monday morning while they are in session at 7:30am. It is open to the public and would be a fine time to make sure that Milo and Greg hear your voice.