Ed Team

An Evening with Lambda and Indiana's Finest

Filed By Ed Team | September 30, 2005 12:07 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement

Lambda Dinner Speech : 29. Sept. 05 NOTE: Indiana Equality was recognized by the Indiana Chapter of Lambda Legal foundation for its work to promote GLBT rights and fight the marriage amendment -- SJR7. This is the acceptance speech given by Randy Studt, President of Citizens for Civil Rights (Lafayette) on behalf of the entire Steering Committee. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the Indiana Equality Steering Committee and the statewide and regional civil rights organizations which make up Indiana Equality. As John pointed out, Indiana Equality was founded to achieve non-discrimination language in the state civil rights code. We believe that the Hoosier state will eventually join the ranks of states where one cannot be fired from a job, lose one’s housing or be denied public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Along the way, this effort has been stalled by the religious right in an effort to crush this community and hinder any progress for decades to come. SJR7 -- better known as the marriage amendment -- is the Right's way of using us and our families to build and control power in this state. They raise money telling lies about us and exacerbating the fears of our co-workers, neighbors and families.

It is understandable -- and yet regrettable -- that many Hoosier politicians of both parties desperately want to be able to run on a platform where heterosexual unions are the only legal marriages. They will vote for anything they can claim "preserves marriage." This is a hollow gesture akin to placing copies of the Ten Commandments in every classroom. Lip service to appease the masses. It won't support marriages and only serves to bash a group already struggling for basic rights.

What’s more, the proposed amendment is risky and dangerous to Hoosiers at large. Read section B with me... "This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." ... This section is full of untested language that is being used to deny domestic violence protection to women, repeal domestic partner benefits in state institutions, and challenge adoptions across the 11 states that passed similar amendments last year. If you think these are NOT part of the goal, ask the sponsors themselves or their supporters. Some claim this section does not prohibit protection bills for health or inheritance for same sex couples, but they know there is not a politician in Indiana with the cajones to actually propose such a bill. In fact State Senator Pat Miller, Chairman of the Finance Committee, just introduced a bill that criminalizes artificial insemination for lesbian couples in Indiana.

No, this amendment is the starting point for hundreds of unintended consequences and conservative activist courts. All Hoosiers should fear this amendment and the conservative activists who have proposed it.

But as LGBT citizens, we should not just be fearful – we should be angry at the forces behind this amendment, who have declared war on us...our families, our loved ones, the whole community. They are totally committed to this fight. They have amassed millions of dollars and will put both e-mails and bodies on the line to "protect traditional marriage." They will try anything to convince the average Hoosier through scare tactics that our community is alien, perverse-- that WE are somehow not like them- not Hoosier enough – when it is THEY who endanger the very idea of equality and justice.

So, how will we respond? Will we feel content to write a check to a national organization? Will we occasionally attend a fundraiser? Do we even know our legislator's names or how to contact them? Have we talked to our neighbors and co-workers to explain the consequences of this amendment? Are we a part of any organized effort -- ready to spring into action?
It is a sacrifice to fight back. Yet we will sacrifice more by not resisting – we will lose our hope of equal citizenship. So, fight we must! We must dedicate our effort, money, and time towards defeating this amendment and any other law which seeks to roll back progress in Indiana. Small pockets of freedom have sprung up in Tippecanoe County, Bloomington, Fort Wayne; and the fight still rages in Indianapolis. We must protect these advances from a marriage amendment that threatens Indiana’s future.

I look out at this audience and I see the leaders of Indiana’s GLBT and Allied business and political community, the very people who can help secure success against this threat. AND in Indiana we have a chance to achieve this goal.

The conservatism of this state can work to our advantage. It takes years to amend our constitution -- a venerable sign of Hoosier stubborn resistance to change. But that also means that we have the most time of any state to fight back. No other state has had the chance to organize and plan like Indiana. And Indiana Equality has the Campaign Plan to stop SJR7. But it needs each and every one of you to make a personal commitment to the LOCAL fight. Your time, effort, and money are essential to the GLBT family of Indiana.

Let me leave you with this thought. Each of us probably knows someone who has left this state due to the political climate. It's not safe or wise in many parts of this state to live openly and honestly. For me, it's the future of my students and my nephew Ryan thatg spur me to action-- to change the climate and the attitudes of Indiana.

In this great struggle, there will be ultimately one winner-- justice. And Lady Justice stands with History on OUR side. So, the question tonight is: Will you be part of the force to push back the darkness of ignorance and hate? Or will you stay on the sidelines? We urge you to join Indiana Equality to protect our families and defeat SJR7.

Thank you for your support!

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AUTHOR: bilerico

DATE: 10/01/2005 08:28:22 PM

Congratulations to Indiana Equality on winning the Lambda Legal award for organization of the year! I attended the dinner and got to watch Randy give this speech to 600 people. I'm very proud of both IE and Randy.