Bil Browning

Indiana Democratic State Committee mails anti-gay flier

Filed By Bil Browning | October 27, 2008 8:41 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
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Since I started blogging, I've taken quite a few hits for being an equal opportunity critic. I've never hesitated to call out anti-gay politics - no matter what side of the aisle it originates. IndianaHouseDistrict33.jpgMy standard answer to those who think I should automatically support Democrats over all others is simple. I'm gay before I'm partisan; in Indiana several Democrats are worse on my issues than some Republicans. My community ranks higher than my political party.

A recent anti-gay mail piece for Democrat Andy Schemenaur for Indiana House District 33 is a case study in my mantra. To add that extra special touch, Schemenaur is running to represent my hometown of Winchester. In an election cycle that has voters fleeing rightwing nutjobs' negative division tactics, Schemenaur decided to run as a social conservative.

The mailing sent to voters in the district features a grinning candidate surrounded by his wife and family in half of the eleven photos. Two shots are clearly meant to emphasis his church in the background. It's entitled, "Faith & Family: A Hoosier Way of Life" so you can see where this is going... Pictures after the jump. (Click any of them to embiggen.)

SchemenaurComposite.jpg

Like I said, I grew up in Winchester. I came out as a Junior at Winchester Community High School; I got the beatings to prove it. When I tried to find out more about being gay, I had to go outside of the county to find more than encyclopedia references in the library. The area is not overflowing with gay people, African-Americans or non-Christians.

Indiana is not a trend-setting state. Hoosiers resist change at most levels, granted. But could someone please tell Andy Schemenaur that it is not 2004 anymore? "The Sanctity of Marriage" was the Republican boogeyman during the last presidential election. The Democrats are running on a platform of change and respect for each other now, not desperately denying gay friendly stances.

NEWSFLASH: We're not the goddamned whipping boy this year.

But the most infuriating part?

SchemenaurCloseup.jpg

It was paid for by the Indiana Democratic State Committee

A state party spokesperson asked to review the mailer before making a statement. No statement was ever given. E-mails to the Andy Schemenaur for State Representative campaign were not returned.

The African-American community and the LGBT community were both given seats on the Democrat's State Central Committee at the same time. I can't imagine the Committee paying for an ad advocating a constitutional amendment to ban interracial marriage without black leaders demanding an immediate apology.

Here's hoping our leaders do the same.


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All I can say is that at least he didn't write, "The ultimate goal involves the enlistment of our children. Because they can't reproduce, homosexuals have to recruit!" That by my State Senator John Waterman (Republican, District 39 - AlwaysPackingHeat) did in a brochure, during a year he wasn't running (2004). Of course, that is Senator John Waterman of Bilerico "Gay Holocaust" fame.

It's interesting that a high school newspaper (PDF - 1.25MB) from Speedway is the only reference I can find to Waterman's diatribes now. But I still have the PDF of Waterman's brochure produced by the Stonewall Democrats.

That was a year when Republicans gained control of the House and passed SJR-7 the first time. My representative was Republican for the first time in my short memory, the Elvis impersonator, Bruce Borders. He polled the district and then sent us back the results. Of all the issues the one with the greatest uninamity was that for a state constitutional amendment to define marriage heterosexually (and screw GLBTQs otherwise I might add); it was 85.7% FOR. Gee, I guess the two I filled out were a big part of the 10.9% who were opposed. 3.2% had no opinion.


The fact of the matter is that many such Democrats as Schemenaur exist in Indiana. Just look at the last time SJR-7 was voted upon. Most Democrats gave their vote for it (at least that is my memory). Sometimes I wonder why a gay man should be living on a farm in Indiana....

Such things in Hoosier politics can affect our federal representation, too.

In 2004, Mike Sodrel floated out a campaign brochure claiming that Baron Hill is in favor of gay marriage. What Baron Hill really said was that he felt a federal amendment regarding marriage was unnecessary. But it was too late for Hill to clarify his position, and that is generally credited to be why Mike Sodrel was US Rep from south-central Indiana for the 2004-2006 session.

In 2006, Hill played it smarter, and emphasized his position earlier in the race, so that Sodrel couldn't ambush him at the last minute. Hill won, and is now running for re-election. Hill is hardly a hero of the GLBT community, but he's a heck of a lot better than Sodrel.

If a candidate (of either party) is running in an area where championing our issue(s) aggressively is political suicide, what are we to expect of them? It is the goal of a political party to win a seat in government, and it is up to the GLBT community to educate the society around us.

I'd simply suggest that Schemenaur keep his damned mouth shut. No one told him he had to run a "Faith and Family" mailing. He could have done any sort of positive (or negative) mailing. In fact, he could excise the one small section attacking the LGBT community and replace with a section touting his leadership of a f--king Cub Scouts troop - and it would have been fine.

Instead, he went on the attack over a non-issue. Who accused him of being for same-sex marriage? Who said same-sex marriage was a problem in Winchester and Portland with gays getting married all over town? (Careful! You'll step on one!) Who held his feet to the fire and said, "When you introduce yourself to the voter, be sure to include an anti-gay swipe instead of just keeping it all positive?"

No one. He decided that. It wasn't "political suicide" for him. It wasn't even being talked about until he made it an issue.

And our state party paid for it.

I don't know who to be more disgusted with.

Bil, I am not familiar with the specifics of the political traffic going on in this particular race --- and in the absence of info to the contrary, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and accept your testimony on this.

You have good points; YES he probably picked this issue to highlight because he personally has a religious hair up his ass; and YES the Indiana Democratic Party should be chewed royally for paying for such a mailing; and YES the GLBT's across Indiana (not just this particular district) should raise Hell over this.

But now I have a person gripe to put into the record: I am sick and tired of the relatively rural gays (and lesbians) hiding in the closet, or their cornfield, at this late date in 2008. This is no longer the 1960's! It's 2008, goddamit!

In my own home county, Harrison County down near Louisville, I have written a few articles in the county paper, on gay issues and making clear that I'm gay personally. The results?: (1) I've never been insulted or treated badly personally, but (2) almost down to a man, the handful of closeted gays that I knew or were familiar with in that community decided to treat me like a pariah --- "I can't be seen with him because he's out." I took the risk of speaking up, and that's the support I got.

So fuck'em!

There is an element of this topic that, Bil, you aren't tuned into, but I am tuned into it quite painfully. And although I absolutely do not condone the type of campaigning that Schemenaur engaged in, I also know this: Cowardly, closeted gays who are afraid to stand up for themselves get the government they deserve.

I appreciate the even and fair hand you take, Bil. We've spoken about the need for constituency groups to never let "their party" off the hook on things like this. As soon as they think they can take you for granted, they do. In my opinion, the Democratic Party needs to have its' feet held to the fire on this.

Here is his e-mail, let him know what you think:

schemenaur@bright.net

It really isn't about the X Party or the Y Party, the D Party or the R Party. It's about fairness and justice.

I have no allegiance to anybody who screws me over.

I have never voted for a Republican, but I have no sentiment over "the Democratic Party" per se. At this point, I wouldn't give the Democratic Party of the State of Indiana one penny.

The two-party system as a way to manage public affairs is something worth questioning in any case. Tugs of war aren't a very efficient way to improve everyone's lives.

Wilson46201 | October 29, 2008 3:40 PM

The inside story is about how the US Postal Regulations favor parties, not politicians. A bulk mailing permit costs a politico the same as a business to use BUT the 2 State Parties in each state can use the charity or church rate. That can be quite a savings in a large bulk mailing. The State Parties usually dont actually pay for the mailings but are reimbursed by the candidates.

The Indiana State Democratic Party should have told the offending candidate gently but firmly his message is off-message. He is free to use standard commercial mailing rates if he still wants to but the State Party doesnt have to give him that discounted mailing cost.