Chris Douglas

Sentry Shot. Camp Imperiled.

Filed By Chris Douglas | May 06, 2006 2:10 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

Tuesday evening the religious right stole a march on us; progressives, when we eventually awake, will find ourselves nearly surrounded and under fire. Bob Garton's loss was a defeat for moderates and liberals in Indiana, terrifying to any who understand what has been happening at the Statehouse. No matter what the future holds in electoral politics, no matter whether a Democrat replaces him, in Bob Gartons' absence, that future will likely reveal more success for social conservative extremists.

Bob Garton was caught in a crossfire. From one side fired right wing conservatives, understanding Bob Garton as the pro-choice, pro civil rights moderate who had quietly worked against, and sometimes successfully killed, extremist initiatives which had born such successful fruit in other states. From the other side fired those progressives who had little concept of the damage they were wreaking on progressive interests, understandable because Garton had survived successfully for so long that they confused him with the conservative peers whose aggression he was doing so much to check.

The Hate Crime Bill of 2000, Sexual Orientation, Garton, & Gender Identity

Seldom can the content of private meetings be revealed without damaging the trust of the participants and the future ability to cooperate effectively. I've heard much criticism in the gay community of rumored "secret meetings", as though quiet negotiations and understandings accomplish nothing. We are in an unusual situation, in which a case study can be discussed without compromising trust or threatening the future. Senator Garton, one whose cooperation and leadership (quiet and behind the scenes) was exerted on hour behalf, was one whose trust had to be protected.

Below is more detail about one situation, and Garton's involvement, than most would want. Only wonks may find it interesting.


In 2000 the House under Democratic leadership introduced a Hate Crimes Bill without sexual orientation included. The back-channel message to gay activists was that the House plan was for the Bill to pass the house with an expectation that it would not get heard in the Republican Senate. The Senate's refusal to hear a hate crime bill could then serve as campaign issue against Republicans. The reason it was necessary to leave out sexual orientation (as conveyed to activists) was that there were Democrats in the House from southern districts that could not vote for any bill that had sexual orientation in it, for it would open them up to attack in their conservative districts. They were also convinced that the Republican Senate would never hear a bill with sexual orientation in it.

To repeat the message conveyed to gay activists at the time, the expectation of the sponsors of the bill was that it would never pass and that the gay community was to be excluded.

The gay community mobilized admirably. In the view of the board of Justice, Inc., the exclusion of sexual orientation from the hate crime bill was an impermissable affront to the gay community, and a dangerous statement. Justice, Inc. under the leadership of Wally Paynter and advised by Kathy Sarris and employed me and Marla Stevens to work the issue, specifically to ensure that no exclusionary bill would be passed. We coordinated with the editorial board of the star to produce an editorial condemning the exclusionary bill on the very first day of the session. We also coordinated with HRC and Jesus MCC to produce a press conference and worked with both organizations to line up constituent meetings with legislators and victims of hate crime to testify. The community performed. House Leadership announced that the offensive bill would be sent to sub committee, and a message was given to gay activists that the intent was to kill the offensive bill.

As a result of the terrifying testimony of hate crime victims, however, an unusual bi-partisan consensus formed in the House Judiciary committee that something should be done, and a group of House Republicans signalled that they would support a bill with Sexual orientation in it. The Board of Justice, Inc. then decided that the death of the offensive bill should no longer be considered adequate and directed Marla Stevens and me to a new task: pass a bill that would establish the precedent of including sexual orientation. "Sexual orientation" while appearing in Fortune 500 nondiscrimination codes, had never made an appearance in official state policy or law. Indeed, politicians at that time were preferring to use the phrase "preference", if willing to discuss us at all.

But the conventional wisdom held that the Republican Senate would never hear a bill including sexual orientation. Before the bill in the house could proceed from committee, we had to know: would the inclusion of sexual orientation in the bill kill it? would Richard Bray hear a bill in the Senate Judiciary committee with sexual orientation? was the senate willing to pass a piece of legislation including sexual orientation?


Kathy Sarris and I requested a meeting with Robert Garton, and he called us into his office. We had a meeting which I thought I understood, unaware that I was in the presence of two diplomats experienced in nuance. I emerged angry with Garton, believing that we had acheived nothing, and said as much to Kathy Sarris, whom at that time I did not know so well. Kathy turned on me and said in reproval: "You weren't listening." She explained that Garton had in effect said that sexual orientation was never the Senate's problem: it was enhanced penalties that rubbed Senator Bray the wrong way, believing as Bray did that a crime should be punished based on its impact, not its intent. Despite the conventional wisdom that neither Garton nor Bray nor the Senate would ever consider a bill with sexual orientation, Robert Garton had talked right past me to convey to Kathy Sarris that sexual orientation had not been and would not be a problem for his senate.

With this knowledge, Justice Inc mobilized for the passage of a bill that would provide for reporting on hate crime, with enhanced penalties not included, but with Sexual orientation included for the first time in an official document from the State of Indiana. (Remember, we had been told no bill had ever been truly intended to be passed that year.)


But Marla Stevens brought me up short. She objected that the bill did not cover the transgendered. Completely ignorant on the topic, I didn't even know what Marla meant, but she educated me. What's more, Marla Stevens said that if the bill did not provide coverage for the transgendered, she would attack me and the bill , and so would her organization. Faced with potential failure, I spoke with allied lobbyists, all of whom said discussion of the transgendered was crazy, that it would kill the bill. I decline to name the names in the gay community who expressed a total lack of sympathy. I tried to speak with Democratic members of the sponsoring caucus, who waived me away angrily. At the direction of the Justice, Inc, and in desperation, I requested a meeting with Robert Garton.

Garton listened to my explanation of the transgendered and the problems they faced, their especially dire plight with regard to hate crime. And he said: "Gender Identity may be too much for the senate to absorb." And he sent me out.


A startling thing happened, however, in the senate judiciary committee. As the House black caucus made their presentation on the hate crime bill to the senate judiciary committee, a senator thought to be conservative introduced a baffling and unexpected amendment. It provided that crimes conducted against anyone based on their membership in any group could be classified as hate crimes and reported. The senator asked the bill's sponsors to affirm that they thought his amendment was a good one. They responded in confusion, for neither they nor I (sitting well back in the audience) could figure out what had produced this unexpected amendment. As they floundered about, the senator raised his voice and commanded of me: "CHRIS DOUGLAS, DON"T YOU THINK THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AMENDMENT?" The scales fell from my eyes. I understood immediately that Robert Garton had found a way to provide coverage for the transgendered. I affirmed.

Of all the people that I discussed the transgendered with, gay, straight, democrat, republican, only in Bob Garton did someone who listened and felt compelled to act. I sat quietly in many community meetings in which I heard many influential members of the gay community say that it would be impossible to see progress for the transgendered, and heard transgendered express frustration that nobody in the gay community believed progress was possible. For a long time thereafter, formal public progress on nondiscrimination for the transgendered proceeded through Todd Rokita's nondiscrimination policy, to Scott Keller's nondiscrimination policy, to MItch Daniels nondiscrimination policy before any movement on the topic occurred among Democrats, for the sole reason (in my opinion) that after my respectful hearing and response from Bob Garton, I insisted on discussing the question with Republicans. Talley would not have included transgendered without Peterson. Peterson would not have included transgendered without the cover from Republican attack provided by Daniels. And Daniels would not have been in the Republican chain of nondiscrimination on transgendered had a respectful hearing not begun with Garton when no other serious political leaders would discuss them. (And none of it would have happened without Marla threatening me with life and limb, and holding the interests of the transgendered to be as important as the interests of gays. ) If this all sounds like a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a chain of events producing an earthquake, that is indeed the way I see it. Had Bob Garton not been a decent and conscientious legislator, setting a precedent through a willingness to listen and act, in my opinion our HRO would not include the transgendered today. (Incidentally, Jesus MCC and the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination also deserve credit for their early insistence on progress for the transgendered.)

It is easy now to say that Garton's willingness to address sexual orientation and gender identity were minor, but at that time, remember that sexual orientation was considered to be so white hot as a topic that even our allies in the House had not wanted to include it. That bill, incidentally, passed the senate 44-6 with sexual orientation included, disproving completely that the sexual orientation was a problem. Any who think the precedent of of the words "sexual orientation " and coverage for the transgendered in an indiana law wasn't important, don't understand the importance of precedent in lobbying. Enhanced penalties? no. Advancement for the glbt community? yes. Wouldn't have happened without Bob Garton.


Some in the community have wondered why Indiana Equality was not leading an all out charge to produce the letter writing campaign against the attempt to ban adoption by same sex couples last year. The answer to that, I can now observe, is that it was already known that Bob Garton would help ensure that it would be killed. LIkewise, the attempt to ban domestic partnership at state universities. And other measures. Sometimes, the Indiana Equality coalition was far better informed and had done far more coordinating than it could afford to share publicly with the community. Sharing its information would have doomed the coalition's effectiveness and imperiled Bob Garton's. (Oh, well. He's gone now, done in by the religious right's understanding that he was responsible for similar blocking actions on measure related not to us, but to their pro-life agenda.)

I am convinced that Bob Garton would have been important to achieving a change to the harsh measure that the marriage amendment is. For those who judge him harshly for having voted for the amendment, I judge him less harshly for I know that he cooperated in the attempt to mitigate it, and I feel confident that he had in his thinking the prospect that he would have another chance to mitigate it in 2007.

I suspect that feminist lobbyists would be able to report on things Garton has done to try to help, although lobbyists who remain active at the Statehouse will likely have to remain mum.


I do not mean to convey that Bob Garton was godly, for I am sure he had his faults and, like all of his generation, has had to evolve in his thinking about gays. But I do suggest that he was a better man than he has been made out to be. He sponsored the first bill to extend civil rights protections to women in Indiana, and he backed the ERA. The religious right came to know that Bob Garton was not their friend, and now they have taken him out, abetted by those critical of one element of his service.

I fear we may discover that life will get no better and may get worse with Garton gone. Forward progress on nondiscrimination, hospital visitation, inheritance rights, etc, I fear may no longer be possible, as I believe they would have been with a Democratic house and with Garton as head of the senate. Even with a Democratic House, (and even with Garton replaced successfully by a Democrat), a more radicalized conservative Indiana senate Republican caucus will exert tremondous pressures on a Democratic house to pass the marriage amendment without change. (Bauer allowed the Democratic caucus to take a bullet for us once; I would be both surprised and impressed if he allowed the caucus to take a bullet for us again.) The radicals of the Indiana Senate and of the House will throw all the crazy measures up again, and this time, some are likely to start passing. I disagree with Brian Howey's analysis: I think Governor Daniels is much weakened by the new world, for the radical right has drawn a target on his back as much as on any, and it will be ever more difficult to pursue economic development while containing the extremists.


Finally, I 'm going to take the rare and exposed position of disagreeing with conventional wisdome with regard to the topic of benefits for the legislature, for I think the average observer has not genuinely questioned why a man as sound as Garton supported those benefits (as does Bauer) while the wingnuts (Bosma, Waltz, Drozda) have thrown the benefits over the side.

I remember listening to Cleo Washington, the Senator from Gary, give a tearful farewell to the Senate in 2000. Washington said he could no longer afford to serve, for he couldn't support his family given the time he was away from his practice and the paltry pay. (Washington, a Democrat, seemed to have a real regard for Garton, which seemed to be mutual. Washington observerd that Garton at the last minute in the dead of an evening called Washington to the floor where to Washingtons astonishment he was allowed to enter and pass a bill he thought was dead. The bill offered hope to some men on death row, many African American whom Washington thought innocent. It was a tearful recounting of the Garton's role. )

This has become the reality fo the Indiana legislature. The pay is low and part time for what is actually practically a full time job. Mainly it is the independently wealthy (Bosma, Waltz, etc.) or those in potentially compromised positions (Drozda, Frizell, etc.) who can afford to take a righteous position against pay and benefits. In the meantime, it has become difficult to recruit decent candidates to run for office. The effect is that few who are middle class and have a family to raise can afford to serve in elective office. And any who have health problems either themselves or in their families cannot responsibly give up their health coverage, which they will never be able to recover.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the senate was moved to initiate benefits so people like Washington could serve. To those who claim that the legislature could raise pay, I say wake up. Responsible legislators have been attempting to improve the picture so that better candidates can be recruited. But the Bosma's, Waltz, and Drozda's of the world, because of their personal (inherited) wealth or their compromised finances (recieving money as they do from gambling industry and other suspect sources), can loudly and self-righteously oppose pay raises and benefits. Of course they do; they don't want or need them, and pay raises would enable more and better candidates to run for office. So responsible legislators like Garton and, yes, Bauer, are forced to do what they can and endure the criticism. They can't speak candidly, for to do so is to point a finger at their legislative peers and say: "We, the state of Indiana, can do a lot better than the crop of people we have serving; we need to make it possible."

In my opinion, the press drew a bead on Garton's back and decided they were going to take him out over the topic of benefits, a topic which I don't think they thought through fully. (They continue, in my opinion, to fire shots at the only people who are trying to diversify the candidate base, but who can't say that without threatening and alerting current office holders.) Friendly press did so in the mistaken, but understandable, belief that progress for Indiana would result. The result instead, I fear, will be retrogression, with the gay community especially vulnerable.

If the press REALLY want to impress, it's time the press called for pay raises and improved benefits. No legislator can call for pay raises and survive; but we would all be better served.

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"Tuesday evening the religious right stole a march on us; progressives, will find ourselves nearly surrounded and under fire. Bob Garton's loss was a defeat for moderates and liberals in Indiana, terrifying to any who understand what has been happening at the Statehouse. No matter what the future holds in electoral politics, no matter whether a Democrat replaces him, in Bob Gartons' absence, that future will likely reveal more success for social conservative extremists."

We already find ourselves nearly surrounded and under fire. Saying that Bob Garton was our sentry is both dishonest and laughable.

lookout: a person employed to watch for something to happen

If we employed him, he must have fell asleep while on duty. SJR7? Maybe a secret double agent, but he sure as hell wasn't a sentry.

"Bob Garton was caught in a crossfire."

Bob Garton CREATED the crossfire. He lost because he had no ear for the concerns of his constituency, especially on the health care perk.

"The Hate Crime Bill of 2000"

Isn't it a bit dishonest to refer to it as a "hate crimes bill?" It wasn't a hate crimes bill, but a hate crimes reporting bill. I'm sure it was difficult for him to go out on a limb to support a bill that has no teeth, very little funding, and backhandedly makes the false case for those that say there is no need for hate crimes legislation in Indiana.

"Seldom can the content of private meetings be revealed without damaging the trust of the participants and the future ability to cooperate effectively. I've heard much criticism in the gay community of rumored "secret meetings", as though quiet negotiations and understandings accomplish nothing."

LOL. The criticism is more to the fact that Indiana Equality has a history of taking credit for efforts that it had no hand in. I could make a long laundry list, but I think most of the readers of this blog know the history and the claims made.

"Any who think the precedent of of the words "sexual orientation " and coverage for the transgendered in an indiana law wasn't important, don't understand the importance of precedent in lobbying. Enhanced penalties? no. Advancement for the GLBT community? yes. Wouldn't have happened without Bob Garton."

One of the people you noted that worked on the hate crimes reporting bill was Wally Paynter. I've talked to him directly about this bill and he said that supporting it was a mistake for the reasons I've stated above. Apparently he's one of the unwashed as well?

"Sometimes, the Indiana Equality coalition was far better informed and had done far more coordinating than it could afford to share publicly with the community."

Maybe if IE didn't have a habit of lying about it's successes and passing off its failures, folks wouldn't be so suspicious.

Mitigate? He took part in discriminating against a group of vulnerable Hoosiers. This is a civil rights issue that can not be lessened or muted into acceptance.

"The radicals of the Indiana Senate and of the House will throw all the crazy measures up again, and this time, some are likely to start passing."

Good! I was out on the street talking to folks about the assisted reproduction bill that Pat Miller put out. I can tell you that nothing in this state will put these extremists out of office quicker than these draconian type measures, especially reproductive issues. Most women don't support abortion on demand, but the numbers bare witness to the fact that they don't support an all out ban either.

"I remember listening to Cleo Washington, the Senator from Gary, give a tearful farewell to the Senate in 2000. Washington said he could no longer afford to serve, for he couldn't support his family given the time he was away from his practice and the paltry pay."

Gosh, can I borrow a tissue?
Frankly, I'm sick of hearing this crap that the legislators don't get paid enough or get enough benefits. Last time I checked, they RAN FOR THE OFFICE. Anyone that comes in not knowing the time and effort it takes to do the job isn't really worthy of the office, IMO. I might see your point if the benefits in question weren't a lifetime benny. The fact is that the legislators were getting BETTER benefits for a part time job than most Hoosiers get for their full time jobs.

Regardless of what motivated Senator Garton, he went against the house and pursued a benefit that most Hoosiers don't have. He's either out of touch, or he committed political suicide knowingly.

Chris Douglas | May 7, 2006 11:42 AM

On the question of benefits, Marti, I would ask you to rethink your position, and replace your attitude towards current office holders with a desire to establish an environment in which a more diverse crowd can afford to run.

Whereas in an evolutionary context, none of us should be too pleased with an environment that winnows out many types of people, leaving in many instances a suspect crowd.

For instance, Bosma and Waltz enjoy inherited wealth and position. In the case of Bosma, I suspect he has all the health benefits he needs from his family's company, and based on his others sources of income, would for the sake of ambition dispense entirely with legislative pay. Waltz may be little different. As a young healthy male, he's of the variety that hardly even bothers with health insurance if they can get away with it, and if he wants to buy it himself, finds it cheap and easily obtainable. I have not looked closely at all the legislators on the Republican side, but I suspect you will find many such examples.

Then you have legislators that enjoy "full time" jobs, employed by institutions that have business before the legislature, or are regulated by the legislature. These institutions have in the past included the public utility companies, (employed Mannwheiler) public and private schools (Orentlicher, Garton) and other entities which may or may not compromise the legislator's ability to act without prejudice on behalf of the public.

Then you have pure corrupt financial employment... out of state consulting contracts by the gambling industry buying off its "critics" (Drozda) or funding a legislator's lifestyle outright (Frizell).

The legislature is in reality nearly a full-time job, so anyone with a truly demanding full time job, and no inherited or accumulated wealth (most of the population) really cannot afford to run for Indiana's legislature. Single, employed mothers raising kids, for instance, would have a hard time serving in the legislature, if not employed by a company that sees a benefit in employing a legislator.

Likewise, the nature of health insurance is that if that single mother has a disabled child requiring significant health care, or if a married man has a wife suffering from cancer, neither could possibly contemplate running for elective office. While they may step away from quality health insurance coverage, and gain health coverage from the legislature, they will never again be able to get quality health coverage once they leave office. So while it is people with middling pay, struggling to educate kids, and take care of a sick spouse that we may feel are most sympathetic to the plight of average Hoosiers, these kinds of people are the least likely to be able to afford to serve.

You might say, under the current system, that our legislature is forced into a situation in which it disproportionately represents a slice of population that is very much different from the population as a whole.

So we get skewed perspectives in the legislature by being penny-wise and pound-foolish, distrusting the motives and integrity of current legislators, while refusing to provide an environment conducive to getting better legislators.

The Senators (and Bauer) who stood by the benefits in spite of the their political unpopularity were the ones who care about the future and quality of the legislature; those who so self-righteously and self-servingly dispensed with those benefits (Bosma, Waltz, Drozda) are the real subversives of good, diverse legislative government for Indiana.

I believe Garton, who did not need the benefits himself, was an honorable man on this topic; the press has been hoodwinked. The press, in my opinion, needs to stop condemning Garton, Bauer, Long, Kenley, et al, credit them with some good intent, and then, if press considers their proposals improvement-worthy, find alternative proposals.

The press should ask: What package of pay and benefits makes legislative office accessible to the most diverse array of Hoosiers? And the press should recognize self-righteous denunciation of increased pay and benefits as the self-serving acts of those who supplant the good of Indiana with their own politically ambitious demogoguery.

Chris, perhaps if voters had seen their representatives fighting to ensure affordable and accessible health-care for all Hoosiers the outcome might have been different. Instead we saw our money wasted on prayer in the statehouse, reproductive rights bill, trying to get a bill passed that would take away the power of the city council (which would have shot down the current HRO)and SJR7. If you are angry, you really need to direct this anger at the Republican party and the Reps that have pandered to the religious right. They loved and feared that evil it's eating its own.

Not falling for it | May 7, 2006 4:07 PM

I for one do not want my tax dollars going toward grossly inflated salaries, or outrageous perks and benefits for part time lawmakers who are trying to take my rights away from me.

Rather than trying to rationalize additional incentives for lawmakers, it might be better if we were to limit the amount of time these lawmakers are allowed to sit in session. Every minute they are in Indianapolis, our lives, liberty and pocketbooks are in peril.

It's too bad that tightly-wound gay Republicans can't seem to come to terms with the seriously negative results of their party's actions against our community (and our nation). Why they continue to try to convince us, and themselves, otherwise is confounding.

It took a while to wade through the long-winded rationalizations above, but once digested, it's the same old stuff we've heard before. As a well-known former Republican president might have said of it: "There he goes again."

One of the things that most disturbed me is the link implied between David Orentlicher and Bob Garton. Douglas says: "Then you have legislators that enjoy "full time" jobs, employed by institutions that have business before the legislature, or are regulated by the legislature. These institutions have in the past included the public utility companies, (employed Mannwheiler) public and private schools (Orentlicher, Garton) and other entities which may or may not compromise the legislator's ability to act without prejudice on behalf of the public."

The attempt to paint David Orentlicher as a shady character in the mould of Garton and Mannwheiler is unfair. Nice try, but Dr. O, as he's affectionately known, is a brilliant man; he's a medical doctor, lawyer, and professor. He actually serves the community with his high degree of integrity and service.

Garton, on the other hand, is the Vice President of Professional Development at Ivy Tech State. Notice a difference?


There are so many points you make with which I disagree, there isn't enough space here to discuss all of them. Because so much disinformation has been disseminated against this so-called hate crimes law they give us, let me address it. It isn't a hate crimes law, which all but 4 states in the country have, including most of the southern and western states. Only Indiana, Wyoming, South Carolina and Arkansas are without a hate crimes law. It only provides for the reporting of hate crimes for purposes of tracking hate crimes. The feds had already began doing as virtually every other state. Had we done nothing, we would have probably been compelled to because of the federal law.

I also want to correct you on this: "I understood immediately that Robert Garton had found a way to provide coverage for the transgendered." Sorry, but the law only says "sexual orientation"; it does not expressly cover "gender identity" as does the Indianapolis HRO.j

As to Bray, you obviously are unfamiliar with who this man is. His father was a U.S. Congressman from Martinsville back in the 60s. He was a big-time member of the John Birch Society and, true to Martinsville's deep roots with the KKK, fought the enactment of civil rights. The deep-seated bigotry he learned from his father will always find him on the wrong side of our issues.

And please don't confuse the issue of whether our lawmakers are adequately compensated for their part-time jobs with an understanding of our issues. These guys take down anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 for this part-time job (depending on whether they're in leadership or not), have a retirement plan that has us kicking in $4 for every $1 they kick in, on top of the life-time insurance plan Garton gave them. Not to mention all the free meals and entertainment they enjoy while tending to the people's business. You need only refer to John Krull's column in the Star today explaining how his journalism students were not surprised by Garton's loss--they spoke to the people--and they heard loud and clear what the people of his district thought of Garton on these matters.

You also conveniently brushed over how Garton used to make a living giving motivational speeches to businesses. There was only one problem--almost all of his clients were businesses with business before the legislature. He only gave up that gig after the Star started pouncing on him--then he nailed a $100,000 plus job doing nothing at Ivy Tech, along with Pat Bauer, Craig Fry and Bill Crawford. If you can't understand the problem with this sort of behavior by our elected officials, then I don't know what to say. When elected officials use their positions of powers to line their own pockets, people will react the way they've always reacted, and they won't care how many good things the politician has done for them in the past.

Chris Douglas | May 7, 2006 4:42 PM

Lori, I agree with you about David Orientlicher. His sign graced our yard in the last election, (from which it was stolen twice, incidentally. The theft of Orientlicher signs from yards on the North side during the primary is very troubling.)

My point in the case of both Orientlicher and Garton is that they both have jobs that allowed them to take a great deal of time out of the office. In the case of David, I don't think Indiana University especially either favored or disfavored the position. In the case of Garton, I have a hunch that Ivy Tech did favor his position. Whether any of the legislators are corrupt (there is not question in my mind that David is not, and I don't think Garton was either), the situation in the legislature is not a healthy one when no one in an ordinary job could afford to give it up to serve.

It is essential to the protection of the glbt community that the Democrats regain the House of Representatives. That point I stipulate. But I think we will all be sobered to find the difference that is made when the main traffic cop in the Senate moves from Garton to whomever his successor as President Pro Tem may be.

You don't have to believe me, Lori. Soon enough the turn of events in the legislature, and the increased success of legislative efforts against us will become apparent, I fear.

Also, Lori, generally I agree with you that the Republican Party has been a disgrace, and I would attempt to persuade you otherwise, for again, I agree with you. Consequently, I don't think you can quite paint me as a Republican apologist.

The question has been how to staunch the attacks against us. My observation is that at an early line of defense against the most extreme measures was shot down on Tuesday evening. Garton should be understood as someone who was helpful in 2000 regarding positive action, tried to be helpful with regard to the mitigation of the anti-marriage amendment, and was essential to killing efforts to ban domestic partnership at the universities and to ban adoption of children by same sex couples in Indiana.

I would observe, incidentally, that Garton pretty much adopted a stance supportive of David Orientlicher's challenge of prayer. Without criticism (as I recall), sarcasm, or protest as we heard in the House, Garton proceeded to moments of silence in the Senate as though nothing could be more natural.

Chris Douglas | May 7, 2006 5:20 PM

Gary, "Hate Crimes Law" is short hand for a law on the topic of hate crimes. I have never said "Hate Crimes Enhanced Penalties Law." Regarding the importance of the precedent of getting sexual orientation in to state law, I stand by my observation.

I particularly stand by this observation because I was directly and personally involved (with others) in getting sexual orientation into statements by Gilroy, O'Bannon (as Doug Meagher will attest), Rokita, Keller (who needed no convincing), Randolph (who betrayed us) and Daniels.

Regarding the transgendered, I respectfully standby my observation. As the person who saw to it that it was in Todd Rokita's policy, Scott Keller's policy (who needed no convincing), and Mitch Daniel's policy (all before it was covered by the Democratic Party, Kernan, or Peterson,) and who participated in lobbying Kernan's office and Peterson himself, I know exactly how important Garton's precedent, because I used it every step of the way.

Regarding the other corruption in the Indiana State legislature, I tend toward agreement with you. My observation is that the legislature should be paid reasonably (not overpaid, either), and that all of the other stuff ought to be banned. (I agree that the legislature should address health care reform, that our health insurance system is generally broken, too.) I stand by my observation that low pay and low benefits restrict who can serve and invite corrupt influences of the sort that we agree exist.

Regarding Bray, I stand by my observation also, for I state it as fact, not opinion. Bray never expressed opposition to the inclusion of sexual orientation, but his opposition was to enhanced penalties. The bill with sexual orientation language passed his senate judiciary committee unanimously, quite a fete considering it had been the position of many that sexual orientation was his hangup.

I am not advocating for Richard Bray, by the way, nor even for Garton. I'm ensuring that some understanding exist that loss of Garton and the coming rigtward surge of the Senate Republican caucus, some of which he was able to check, will be damaging to the interests of the glbt community, (and indeed to those believing that women have a right to make decisions about their own bodies, and to those supporting the separation of church and state.)

Chris Douglas | May 7, 2006 5:25 PM

One more thing, Gary. The precedent of the inclusion of sexual orientation in the hate crime bill.. whether in reporting alone or in enhanced penalties... was important to securing Senator Lugar's support for its inclusion in the Federal Hate Crimes Law. With the passage of the local bill including Sexual Orientation, Lugar could refute conservative criticism of his support at the national level by saying that he was expanding language consistent with that already existed in Indiana.

Straight-Shooting Democrat | May 7, 2006 6:26 PM

My words will be concise:

1) Sen. Garton was NO friend of the LGBT community,

2) Chris Douglas is so righteous that he routinely loses sight of reality -- including the meaningless "hate crimes" legislation he banters on and on and on and on about, and

3) Anyone who has any positive words for the work of Kathy Sarris on behalf of the LGBT community has no credibility. When she finally stops trying to "help" the LGBT community, we might finally find success.


The point on Orentlicher is important. He earned his position before he ever stepped foot in the legislature. To even begin to compare his job with that of Garton's is completely unfair.

The other point--the existing GLBT leadership in lobbying efforts at the state level has been an abysmal failure--the worst in the nation. A change will come in short order, even if that means creating a totally separate organization.

Good Lord! It's like a catfight in here!

Here is my simple beef. I was a republican because that was how I was raised. They have a good gig going - scare people about the homos and the people will give us lots of cash and votes.

One of two things will have to happen to stop this:
1. The republican party will have to decide on their own that it is wrong to demonize an entire group of people to get elected. This is not likely, homos are just another in the long line of this tactic (blacks were before us, the "scary mexicans" are next).

2. The voters will have to say enough is enough. Unfortunately, since the whole thing works on fear being whipped up in the masses, this doesn't look likely either.

Until we are no longer the demon of choice, we must fight for our very survival. Nobody will do this for us. As long as candidates are elected using this formula of demonizing us, nothing will change.

Why should it - at least from their perspective. They don't even have to mail anything out - just call some pastors and it is on every church sign and sermon list in the state. Free weekly advertising!

The shameful part of the whole thing is that this is a tactic of divide and conquer. Not only are they dividing us from the rest of society - THEY ARE DIVIDING US FROM US.

Get a grip and work together for God's sake. We don't have any resources compared to theirs. Why waste the few we have on each other?

David had a much easier time slaying Goliath because none of the Jews were pelting him with rocks at the same time.

Marla R, Stevens | May 8, 2006 8:58 AM

With the exception that Justice did not employ me nor direct my actions -- that I was pleased to consider Justice representatives colleagues instead, Chris is accurate.

With Garton gone, things are pointing to it being more, not less, difficult for LGBT people in the Indiana Statehouse.

The politically naive drama queens won't get it and the angrily partisan will rail. If we're lucky, policymakers who are contemplating putting a toe in the water on our behalf will ignore the message it sends that we're fools and ingrates and remember that smarter people put feet on the ground to try to help Garton win.

And cooler, smarter people actually doing the hard work of incremental change will, if they're also lucky and wise, use the unwitting self-destructiveness of both the political two-year-olds and those blinded by partisanship to position themselves as the reasonable ones who can both explain the at-best valiant and at-worst oppositional for the sake of being oppositional and thus gain as well a collegial ear to make progress on the issues all of us really share. Actually, I should say, because of the loss of Garton's too-subtle-for-those-who've-yet-to-evolve-past-infantile-sledgehammer-politics-to-see tempering influence, the cooler and smarter, if lucky and wise, will use the not-so to do the more critical than ever work we're now more stuck with of not going backwards.

Costumes and makeup ready, girls and boys? The Tempest is about to begin!

contrary to what someone said above, this really doesn't seem like a cat fight at all, but a reasonable, intelligent discussion with much to digest from both sides. This is great, and I hope it continues. (without the cheap potshots and non-content from anonymous posters, of course.)