Bil Browning

Hate crimes in the Senate

Filed By Bil Browning | May 09, 2007 3:09 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Brad Ellsworth, Congress, Evan Bayh, hate crimes against LGBT people, House of Representatives, Joe Donnelly, Matthew Shepard Act, Richard Lugar, Senate, violence

While Representative Joe Donnelly is guest blogging here on today and Rep Brad Ellsworth will blog tomorrow, the vote is already over in the House of Representatives. They voted against our community and are explaining their actions.

You do have a chance at helping out with the Senate though - but you have to act fast. The Matthew Shepard Act hasn't been voted on there yet. With President Bush signaling that he will veto the legislation, I've been hearing that some Senators are thinking, "Why bother sticking my neck out? It's not going to matter." While we know it does matter, they're thinking of their political careers and not our human rights.

Here's what our Indiana readers can do to help:

  1. Call Senator Lugar and Senator Bayh's Washington DC offices and tell them you want the Senator(s) to support the bill.

    You read in Rep Donnelly's post that he barely got any e-mails/calls in support of the bill. From talking to Rep Ellsworth, I know this to be the case with his office too. Do you want to give the Senators the same problem? While the right wing hatemongers might still outnumber us in sheer volume of e-mails/phone calls, we have to bring that ratio down dramatically!

    Senator Evan Bayh's Congressional Office: (202) 224-5623

    Senator Richard Lugar's Congressional Office: (202) 224-4814

    If you are an out of state reader (and we've had thousands of you over the past couple weeks!), please look up your Senators' office numbers and give them a jingle. It doesn't take any time at all to do and it will help immensely.

    And then tell all of your friends to call too!

  2. Stop in to your Senators' local office and support the Matthew Shepard Act in person.

    Nothing makes a stronger statement than a personal visit to the office! That trumps everything - e-mails, phone calls or even hand-written letters. Since several of our readers come from the Indianapolis area, I'm only going to post the address for the Senators' Indy offices to save space. If you live elsewhere in the state and need help finding your closest office, send me an e-mail and I'll help you find out where it is.

    If you live outside of Indiana, go visit your Senators' local offices. Remember to be polite but firm. Tell your stories to the staff and ask that the Senator call you back or write. We have to let them know how important this is!

    Senator Evan Bayh
    1650 Market Tower
    10 West Market Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

    Senator Richard Lugar
    1180 Market Tower
    10 West Market Street
    Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

We can make a difference! Let's do our utmost to do some of the grassroots organizing that's been sadly lacking in our state. We may have failed Representatives Ellsworth and Donnelly by not garnering enough support for them to vote with us; let's not make that same mistake again!

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Jen Jorczak | May 9, 2007 3:48 PM

If you live outside Indy, this page gives you local contact info for Bayh, and this page for Lugar.

Wilson46201 | May 9, 2007 4:12 PM

I spoke to Senator Evan Bayh in person Saturday night at the J-J Dinner and thanked him for his sponsorship of the Hate Crimes Act. He smiled graciously and stated he was honored to do so. He won't waver...

The "problem Senator" for Hoosiers is Dick Lugar. He is possibly winnable on this issue. By all means concentrate your lobbying and persuasion efforts on Republican Richard Lugar!

"We may have failed Representatives Ellsworth and Donnelly by not garnering enough support for them to vote with us; let's not make that same mistake again!"

So now its WE failed Rep. Ellsworth and Donnelly? May I respectfully suggest (okay, maybe not so much) that it was Ellsworth and Donnelly who failed US all ...

Stuart Rosenberg | May 9, 2007 5:54 PM


You are the man, as always!!

As the Regional Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign for the Midwest, I wanted to emphasize to readers that it is important to make sure everyone's friends, neighbors, partners, family, supporters, etc. also contact Indiana's two Senators. Please take a moment to forward Bil's post around and encourage fellow Hoosiers who stand for equality to make their voices heard.

You can go to the Human Rights Campaign website at to send an email directly to your Senators. Additionally, if any readers of are interested in becoming more involved in this effort to pass meaningful hate crimes legislation I would encourage you to email me directly at

Don't let the right-wing extremists be the only voices heard in Washington. With your help, we can make sure that Senator Bayh and Senator Lugar hear loud and clear that hate will not be tolerated in Indiana!

I see your point, Kay, and I actually think we're both right on this one...

While they failed us by not voting the way we wanted them to, we failed the two Reps by not speaking our truths to them. I've heard the exact number of pro vs con contacts, and Rep Donnelly was extremely generous when he called it 5 to 1. And that's AFTER weeding out all the e-mails from out of the district! You have to admit, it's hard to support something when it seems like most of your constituents don't...

We can't let that happen in the Senate. Let's do everything we can to make sure that the Senators don't have the same excuse to fail us!

I fully trust that Ellsworth and Donnelly are well aware of our "truths." For them to say otherwise or for us to believe otherwise is ... best left unsaid here.

Playing the numbers game (who does the most contacts) is a futile exercise because we are the minority! Constantly trying to compete is playing into the hands of the religious right.

Besides, it is demoralizing to many (being told it's their fault), draining on personal energy, and (it seems) a huge wasting of community resources.

I and some of my community up here will be meeting with Congressman Donnelly on Saturday May 19th. If you would like to write a letter to him, email it to me as a Word attachment and I will print it and personally hand it to him. I would love to walk into this meeting with lots of letters! Email me at

We need to speak up. There are plenty of us. Let's not give them an excuse to vote against us again.

A. J. Lopp | May 9, 2007 11:28 PM

"kay" said:

Besides, it is demoralizing to many (being told it's their fault), draining on personal energy, and (it seems) a huge wasting of community resources.

Generally speaking, politics is [potentially] demoralizing. Politics is invariably draining on personal energy. Politics is [often] a huge [apparent] wasting of community resources.

Welcome to the world of politics, kay!

Now, let's get off our whining rear ends and contact our two Hoosier senators. That is the way politics works, whether you like it or not. Do you want to win, or don't you?

(P.S. The fact that we are the minority is all the more reason why a higher percentage of us must contact our senators and congresspersons.)

Lopp, I put on my big girl panties decades ago; I'll suggest you do the same.

A. J. Lopp | May 10, 2007 5:47 PM

Good for you, kay! ... Then act like it!

Huh, and just when I thought it couldn't get anymore daftly boring ... go figure.

A. J. Lopp | May 12, 2007 4:05 PM

Exactly. Boring by design. If you are bored, kay, then the other Bilerico readers must be bored to tears with both of us. I have no interest in pursuing a pointless online pissing match.

Now, contact Senators Bayh and Lugar and urge them to vote YES on the Matthew Shephard Act (as I did yesterday while in downtown Indy) ... and let's drop this crap.

A. J. Lopp | May 12, 2007 4:10 PM

P.S. At both Senator Bayh's office and Senator Lugar's, I was told that a visit to the office counts no heavier in the constituency stats than a call or an email. So unless you enjoy searching for parking spaces downtown and pressing the buttons in a skyscraper elevator, just make a call or send an email.

Don't make me separate you two!

I'm here to tell you, Alan, that they're feeding you crap. Very few constituents actually show up at the office, so when someone does it's taken much more seriously. You took time out of someone's day to stand there face-to-face and talk about hate crimes. That message will get delivered if enough of us show up and do it.

A. J. Lopp | May 13, 2007 2:39 PM

Well, Bil, maybe I didn't do it right?

In both cases, I only dealt with the receptionist at the front desk, who, in both cases, obviously translated my input and personal info into an email which, they assured me, would "go directly to the Senator's office in Washington D.C."

Should I have insisted on speaking with someone other than the receptionist, maybe a staff assistant of some sort? The Indy office is, of course, a field office, and I believe the legislative aides do work in D.C. ... Right?

All I'm saying is that you know that receptionist sent an e-mail that said "This guy came into the office to register his opinion." You took extra time. Just like handwritten, stamped and snail mailed letters mean more than e-mails because they take longer, office visits rank right up there too. :)