Jerame Davis

Profiles in Courage: The Fab Five

Filed By Jerame Davis | April 03, 2007 7:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: bad laws, justice, LGBT civil rights, SJR-7

The Fab Five
From left to right:
Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson)
Rep. Earl Harris (D-East Chicago)
Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City)
Rep. Russ Stilwell (D-Boonville)
Rep. Bob Kuzman (D-Crown Point)

It's rare in politics to find even one politician who will stand up to overwhelming adversity and do the right thing. Here, we have five. These five outstanding Democrats heard the myriad concerns about SJR-7 - the Marriage Discrimination Amendment - and simply said, "No" to the untold damage that poorly-drafted resolution would have caused.

Send them your thanks. Let them know they did the right thing by voting down SJR-7 in committee.

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I was planning on writing to Terri Austin! These reps are fantastic! This is a great day!!!!

Joe Miller | April 4, 2007 12:29 AM

Bil and Jerame: thanks for your post making it so easy to send a quick thank-you email to these champions, and all the hard work you and the community's other leaders have put into getting this result today.

I was at a small dinner party tonight with some of our city's mover's and shakers. Ten of us, all Democrats and one Republican (and one Californian) were well into a lively discussion about our city and state. At one point I mentioned that among the positive things that have happened recently, was today's defeat of SJR7.

No one had yet heard the news, and there were gasps, and people looking at me saying "Oh my god!, Is that true!" and "Wow!". Someone bgan cheering and immediately someone raised their wine glass -- then everyone raised their glass and we all toasted each other around the table in recogniton of the positive message today's vote sends about our city and state.

Today was a good day for every Hoosier no matter who they are.

Careful, Unintended Consequences | April 4, 2007 7:20 AM

It was a truly wonderful day.

But, based on the anti-gay-marriage comments of every single speaker at the podium, from what I'm told, we need to be careful.

For instance, my first inclination was to try to raise money for these five, because Eric Miller and Micah Clark will undoubtedly target all five, and they'll need it.

But can you imagine, if too much "out of the district" (read: GAY) money pours into their districts, Eric and Micah will use THAT against them.

It's a true cunundrum.

For now, I've sent thank-yous to all five via snail mail. Personal, hand-written notes to a courageous group.

Rep. Austin threw down the gauntlet to Eric...I saw her tearful speech on TV, as she looked right into Miller's eyes, and said "I know people will say I voted for gay marriage today, but I didn't, and everyone knows that."

I squirmed a little because she gave us what would politely be called a back-handed compliment, or something similar. But it was a victory. Today, they're rare, and beautiful.

Marla R. Stevens | April 4, 2007 9:00 AM

Fantastic? Beautiful? I read the Austin line assuring people that she was still an acceptably antigay bigot and I'm sorry, but all warm and fuzzy that does not make me feel.

DOMA is still the law of Hoosierland. All they did was not make it harder to repeal.

Yes, that's a good thing and worth celebrating but the baseline attitudes of most of those who made that possible are not.

As for giving people money, don't ever hesitate because of fear that it would be perceived as detrimental queer money or outsider money. Smith, Clark, and Miller won't. If the candidate is concerned about that, the candidate will be perfectly capable of refusing your donation. Let the candidate be the one who makes that decision. They will almost certainly know their district and electorate better than you will.

As a faithful straight reader of this blog and others from the Indianapolis GLBT community, I feel the need to comment.

Someone who does not support "gay marriage" may do so for various reasons. I am one who has said and would say does not support "gay marriage." I do however support civil unions, domestic partnerships and the thought of offering the same protections to a gay couple that are offered to me and my spouse. I, for one, do not know the positions of Reps. Austin, et. al., but I would believe they have a position similar to mine and other Hoosiers.

Marriage has a particular meaning to me and others that stops short of calling a legal and committed relationship between a gay couple a marriage. It does not mean that we do not support alternatives to marriage open to all, regardless of the gender of the partners. I know this might be an unpopular position, but it is a heartfelt one and one that has a greater possibilty of occuring in Indiana and other states where I have lived (including the south and the west) than does the idea of "gay marriage".

No one is deluded to think this was a vote FOR gay marriage. It would be absurd to think otherwise knowing that most if not all of those same Democrats oppose gay marriage itself. However, this amendment isn't about gay marriage, it's about taking away civil unions, domestic partnership, and anything else that gay Hoosiers could look to for recognition of their relationships. It's about banning anything that resembles marriage, anything that resembles recognition, and be damned those non-gay relationships that get harmed in the process.

Knowing this Fab Five supports a ban on gay marriage but voted against this particular amendment makes it all the more bold and powerful that they stood up to do the right thing in this instance. They were faced with the knowledge that they would get severe backlash for the vote and that this could likely kill the amendment's progress to the ballot.

That, by any definition, is courage. Courage that comes with knowing you are doing the right thing and not the politically expedient thing.

The fight isn't over, but this is a huge win nonetheless.