While several folks have asked why I haven't been banging the amendment drum as loudly this legislative session, I'm happy to report some good news by way of explanation. I didn't have to.
Our grassroots effort from last year really built momentum across the state. Politicians, businesses, organizations and concerned individuals came together to work without the big egos and attention whoring that seems so endemic to a lot of entrenched organizations.
This time around our work from last year is paying dividends. With property taxes foremost on most politicians' minds, appeasing the religious right has felt the pinch. The Indiana House will not be holding a hearing on SJR-7 this year. That means Indiana's hateful bit of gay bashing is dead.
A Senate committee plans to debate the amendment next week, but the issue’s fate hinges on action in the House, where the amendment died last year in that chamber’s Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee.
Rep. Scott Pelath, the Michigan City Democrat who is chairman of that committee, said today that the most urgent issue emergency facing the state is property taxes, not same-sex marriage, which already is banned by Indiana law.
“I’m not planning on having a hearing,” Pelath said. “The short session (of the legislature) was designed to deal with emergencies. We have a very serious problem with the property tax system and we don’t have any gay marriages in Indiana.”
State Senator Brandt Hershmann has proven himself not a man of his word once again. Remember when he said he wouldn't introduce SJR-7 into the Senate until it had a hearing in the House? Apparently he lost his stare down and decided to bring the amendment up in the Senate again - even though it wasn't required to pass the Senate after it had already done so last year. What do you expect from a guy who allegedly forces his wife to have an abortion and then divorces her?
Even Hershmann's sour grapes hearing for SJR-7 can't take away from all the incredibly hard work the "little people" put into killing this discriminatory amendment. It was particularly pleasing to hear that at tonight's Stonewall Democrats event with new national leader Jon Hoadley, local LGBT leaders were acknowledging that the grassroots effort was how the battle was won last year and where their focus should be in the future.
After local LGBT leaders pooh-poohed bloggers and community organizers as trivial and unimportant, it makes me smile to realize that it took all of us - grassroots organizers and organizational lobbyists - to turn the tide. No one person made an overwhelming difference.
We all did.
And that's how it should be.
*While we spend a lot of time bitching about HRC (me included!) - we couldn't have done it here without Stu Rosenburg from HRC. That man is a powerhouse and if you get a chance to work with him - jump on it!