The passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson has left a gaping hole in Indiana political life. Julia Carson was a great leader and a strong progressive voice. As we consider her replacement, we should not forget the legacy Julia left and who can best live up to the service she provided and the strong support she gave to the LGBT community.
The winner of the special election to fill her remaining term will likely win the seat in the November general election and go on to serve a full term in Congress. This is not a decision to take lightly. Of the names coming forward as likely replacements, one in particular should infuriate LGBT voters in the 7th District.
Carolene Mays is no Julia Carson. She doesn't even deserve the honor of being named among the possibilities to replace her and it is a disgrace to think she could live up to the job.
On paper, Carolene Mays looks like the perfect replacement for Julia. Mays is the president and publisher of the Indianapolis Recorder, the paper of record for the African-American community in Indianapolis. She is a 3 term Indiana State Representative. She serves (or has served) on numerous non-profit and foundation boards. She's won numerous awards for service and she's even a member of the same church Julia attended.
The area she falls most short of Julia is her support of LGBT Hoosiers. As a State Representative, Carolene Mays voted in favor of SJR-7, the Indiana Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Mays has never disavowed her support of the marriage amendment - an amendment Julia spoke against often - and she has shown no indication she would change her vote if it came before her again.
Carolene Mays is no Julia Carson. Either she's a shameful political opportunist, who worried more about her political skin than the rights of LGBT citizens or she is a true believer in discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. Either way, she pales in comparison to the Julia I knew.
We could count on Julia to stand up for us; there was no question. She was a regular presence at our Pride festivals. She's been lionized by the Stonewall Democrats. She was instrumental in helping Indianapolis move forward with an inclusive human rights law. She voted against DOMA. She supported ENDA.
We cannot count on Carolene Mays for any of these things.
Julia was usually right and stood up for her beliefs. She voted against the war and spoke against both the war and George W. Bush long before it was popular to do so. Her funeral was a panoply of leaders and dignitaries who spoke of the fire and determination Julia had for her issues and her constituents.
If Carolene Mays will kowtow to the religious right over something as non-critical as gay marriage, how can we count on her to make the right decisions when it comes to war and peace or life and death?