[EDITOR'S NOTE:] The following is a guest post by Barry Welsh. Barry is running against Republican Congressman Mike Pence in the 2008 elections. Rep Pence is an absolute embarrassment to his party and my state and consistently takes anti-gay positions. Barry, who announced his candidacy at YearlyKos, is making a concerted effort to reach out to the blogosphere so I'm sure you'll see more from him in the future.
I am Barry Welsh and I am running for Congress for the second time against Mike Pence in Indiana's 6th Congressional District. I want to thank Bil for the opportunity to talk with you, his readers.
In 2005 and 2006, we ran a campaign based on three words, “People Before Profits”. I still believe strongly in that motto, but it is not enough. This cycle I add that I am for a Public Government and Private Lives.
I believe the founders of this nation intended Public Government and Private Lives, which I believe because of my experience reading, studying and teaching the Constitution of the United States of America. That document is meant to ensure equality to all, and that includes equality in the workplace.
Senator Edward Kennedy is sponsoring a bill in the Senate, and Representative Barney Frank, Representative Deb Pryce, Representative Tammy Baldwin, and Representative Christopher Shays, are sponsoring a bill in the House known as ENDA. This legislation extends workers' protections that already apply to gender, religion, and race to sexual orientation. ENDA has exceptions for businesses with fewer than 15 employees and for religious organizations.
ENDA seems to be a no-brainer. Who would vote against human rights and equal protection to all Americans? Mike Pence, that's who. On this, you can be certain.
The vote should come up at the end of September or the beginning of October, unless it is tabled.
The vote Mike Pence makes impacts you. Representatives do not just affect their district; they affect all of us across the country. That is a political fact, one that is often overlooked.
I am not a member of the GLBT community, but I have family members and friends who are, and I do not want to see their rights or your rights not fully enforced. As I said in my debate with Congressman Pence last year on the issue of civil unions, "Why is so much time spent trying to deny the rights of a few, when there are so many big problems that impact us all?” He did not respond, but the only three possible answers are fear, hate, or distraction, and none of those answers are acceptable.
Let me be forthright with you. For the past ten years, I was a minister with the United Methodist Church, and in the church marriage is a sacrament and churches should not be forced to perform any marriage. But the Church is based on the Bible. The government is based on the Constitution, and, if the government is going to perform civil ceremonies for anyone, they must perform civil ceremonies for everyone, or it is discrimination.
Some of you may not agree with my position, but I am not writing to pander to you or make empty promises. I am writing so you know who I am and what I stand for. I see this as not only an issue of human rights but also an issue of the separation of church and state. A separation, in my opinion, that must be maintained. It is an issue of equal protection under the law. Rights granted to some should be rights granted to all, and the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law of the land.
When I was in the pulpit every week, I talked about inclusion, love and peace. I will still be talking about inclusion, love and peace, only to bigger audiences. I hope I will have your support in doing so.
Thank you again to Bil for allowing me this opportunity and to you for reading. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. If you would like to help defeat Mike Pence in November 2008, please consider volunteering for or donating to the campaign. To learn more about how to do that and my position on other issues please visit my website or check me out on MySpace.