Jerame Davis

Don't insult the Congresswoman

Filed By Jerame Davis | December 27, 2007 5:32 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Carolene Mays, Congress, gay friendly, House of Representatives, Indiana. SJR-7, Indianapolis, Julia Carson, marriage

The passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson has left a gaping hole in Indiana political life. Julia Carson was a great leader and a strong progressive voice. As we consider her replacement, we should not forget the legacy Julia left and who can best live up to the service she provided and the strong support she gave to the LGBT community.Indiana State Representative Carolene Mays

The winner of the special election to fill her remaining term will likely win the seat in the November general election and go on to serve a full term in Congress. This is not a decision to take lightly. Of the names coming forward as likely replacements, one in particular should infuriate LGBT voters in the 7th District.

Carolene Mays is no Julia Carson. She doesn't even deserve the honor of being named among the possibilities to replace her and it is a disgrace to think she could live up to the job.

On paper, Carolene Mays looks like the perfect replacement for Julia. Mays is the president and publisher of the Indianapolis Recorder, the paper of record for the African-American community in Indianapolis. She is a 3 term Indiana State Representative. She serves (or has served) on numerous non-profit and foundation boards. She's won numerous awards for service and she's even a member of the same church Julia attended.

The area she falls most short of Julia is her support of LGBT Hoosiers. As a State Representative, Carolene Mays voted in favor of SJR-7, the Indiana Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Mays has never disavowed her support of the marriage amendment - an amendment Julia spoke against often - and she has shown no indication she would change her vote if it came before her again.

Carolene Mays is no Julia Carson. Either she's a shameful political opportunist, who worried more about her political skin than the rights of LGBT citizens or she is a true believer in discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. Either way, she pales in comparison to the Julia I knew.

We could count on Julia to stand up for us; there was no question. She was a regular presence at our Pride festivals. She's been lionized by the Stonewall Democrats. She was instrumental in helping Indianapolis move forward with an inclusive human rights law. She voted against DOMA. She supported ENDA.

We cannot count on Carolene Mays for any of these things.

Julia was usually right and stood up for her beliefs. She voted against the war and spoke against both the war and George W. Bush long before it was popular to do so. Her funeral was a panoply of leaders and dignitaries who spoke of the fire and determination Julia had for her issues and her constituents.

If Carolene Mays will kowtow to the religious right over something as non-critical as gay marriage, how can we count on her to make the right decisions when it comes to war and peace or life and death?

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I agree, Jerame. At least we know that Mays was the only member of the black caucus to vote in favor of SJR-7. My worry is that Andre Carson will be the only other nominee. What do we really know about him? Is he gay friendly? Who can really say? He hasn't voted for anything!

I've known André Carson since he was 9 years old. He's gay-friendly - I've been answering his good questions about LGBT politics and issues for many years now. He was raised by Julia Carson herself - he has her politics and attitudes. The LGBT community need have no worries whatsoever about André. Like Julia, he'll represent all his constituents well!

Jeffrey of the NGLTF wrote elsewhere:

I was one of the speakers at Julia's memorial service--gay, Jewish and of European descent. Julia Carson crossed all lines in a multi-cultural way and persons of all views loved her. Look at her voting record to determine what she was really all about--she did not vote the NOI, Jackson, Lugar or Evan Bayh way---she voted CARSON---pro-gay, pro-Jewish, pro-peace, pro-labor, pro-grassroots. That's all that matters now. If you follow the reasoning of some of these folks, why is there not criticism that right-wing Bushite Mitch Daniels was the MOST prominent figure at her funeral..? I am glad for EVERYONE who was there to honor her.

Furthermore, I would like to know where all the missing Indiana county-city commissioners, state senators and state reps were? both black and white. Guess they were jealous of her success? But short of being on a sickbed, anyone missing has no class in my book.

Finally, Andre Carson has IT ALL. He is totally his grandmother's grandson. He has the vision, the soul, the experience, the sensitivity, the kindness and the legacy of Julia Carson to carry him through and he will be much much better in Congress than all those other names being bandied about. Like his grandmother, he LOVES Indianapolis and will bring it home like she did, always.

Wilson, Can you provide a link to that quote please?

I have to say, I saw lots of City-County Councilors, County party officials and State Representatives and Senators when I watched the funeral on TV. (I also saw you a few times!)

I was embarrassed though that certain people didn't show up. Julia supported Hillary's campaign and neither she nor Bill attended. Barack Obama wants to be all things political to black people and yet he didn't show up either. Nor did Nancy Pelosi or even the Vice President. (Isn't it his job to attend funerals?)

I just got the press release - Democrats will be caucusing on Jan 12th to select the candidate they'd like to nominate to run for Julia's old seat.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker today announced the date and time of the Seventh District caucus to select a candidate for the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, who passed away earlier this month.

By law, the parties must caucus within 30 days of the vacancy to select a candidate who will run in a special election to be called by Gov. Mitch Daniels. The Indiana Democratic Party filed its official caucus notice with the Indiana Election Division today.

Details of the Democratic caucus:

DATE: Saturday, January 12, 2008

TIME: 10 a.m. (registration will begin at 8:45 a.m.)

LOCATION: Shortridge Middle School Auditorium, 3401 North Meridian Street (enter from 34th Street)

There are 560 precinct committeepersons who are eligible to vote in the caucus. To be eligible, a committeeperson must have been on the list no later than Nov. 15, 2007, and must live in the district.

The winner of the caucus must receive a majority of votes from eligible precinct committeepersons who are present and voting. If there are multiple candidates, and no one receives a majority of the first vote, the candidate receiving the least number of votes will be dropped, and a new ballot will commence until the winner has a majority.

Candidates for the caucus must declare their candidacy by filing with the Indiana Democratic Party and the Indiana Election Division at least 72 hours prior to the caucus.

Candidates also must file a financial disclosure report with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. If they intend to raise money, candidates must establish a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

Filing with the Indiana Democratic Party will begin on Jan. 2.

Media will be permitted to observe the caucus but will not be allowed on the floor

Linda Perdue Linda Perdue | December 28, 2007 5:00 PM

You are absolutely on target, Jerame. Mays not only ignored Julia's lead on numerous issues involving the LGBT community, but ignored her own caucus. She appears to be all about personal gain and glory. She'll not get my vote!

And it seems to me that Andre Carson is a very very reluctant candidate for his grandmother's seat. The people who seemed most interested in seeing him take the spot at the funeral were from out of the state! I doubt Hoosiers are going to be trottin' up to the line to do what people from Ohio tell us to do... I say let Andre mourn his grandmother in private and spend 4 years on the city-county council getting his feet wet as a public servant.

There are any number of good people interested in the seat and ready to actively raise money and campaign for it, that would serve us well. Could we do any better than David O and Joanne Sanders?

I'd love to see Joanne Sanders take the seat. Hands down, my favorite.

I do love me some Joanne Sanders.. Shes great..
Julia's funeral was a great showing of support. I was very surprised who showed up.. But I was even more surprised who didnt! The service was Long.. but very moving.
I would like to hear some of Andre's positions on LGBT issues. I know hes got the breeding and has worked with Julia, but I'd still like to see it on paper.
David O. is amazing in so many ways.. But can we afford to loose him in the State house? Who could do what he has done? His electoral victories have amazed many, and I wouldn't know who could win in that district if not him? That is not to say he wouldn't make a great congressman, quite the contrary. And he could probably keep the 7th democratic. This is a very tricky and important question we in the 7th will have to face.
At the funeral, the women from the Congressional Black Caucus said on numerous occasions that Julia said many times simply one thing over and over.. "Andre". It would seem that she had the faith in him. I would just like to have him sit down with us and let us know for sure.
Julia's shoes will be near impossible to fill. Can we find someone who:
1: Would Represent us all like she did, and be able to resist throwing us under the bus for political gain, and survive,
2: Would Maintain the indestructible hold she had on the 7th district seat,
And 3: Would not create a complicated void elsewhere?
I was very torn when I saw the great list of people who might be interested in that seat. So many have excellent records.. Its going to be an up hill decision for many. I just hope we dont see the same thing happen here what we have seen of the presidential candidates do, and viciously trash each other.

Linda Perdue Linda Perdue | December 29, 2007 1:19 PM

When I'm on my deathbed and keep calling the name of my grandgirl(s), please do not assume I'm asking that they take my place.

Thank you.

Oh, I totally agree, Linda. I was a bit taken aback at the politicking at Julia's funeral. Andre has not proven himself yet in my opinion. I thought it was a stretch to put him on the council, but jumping to Congress after, what 3 or 4 public CCC meetings? That's just freaking nuts.

This is a serious issue and emotionally voting in someone with no experience is about as bad as putting in the homophobic Carolene Mays. I don't know if Joanne is going to throw in her hat, but she'd be my pick if she did. I'd probably support David O, but I really think we need him here more than in Congress. He's right on the issues, but he's so important to have in the Statehouse. I guess that's what happens when you do too good of a job - you never get a promotion.

I guess if the only choice is between Andre and Carolene, I'll have to go with Andre, but I'll vote for Jon Elrod before I'll vote for Carolene Mays. He may be a Republican, but he's right on most of the issues, particularly ours. And if it's Carolene that gets the nod, I'll volunteer for the Elrod campaign.

Maybe those of us who know her should start letting Joanne know how much support she has...

Kevin Warren | December 31, 2007 6:04 PM

David Orentlicher is a wonderful State Representative and has proven to be a great
ally to the GLBT community. Although he would be
greatly missed at the state level, he deserves to
move on. He would be a tremendous asset to us all in Congress. Having said this, Neil and I are hosting a fundraiser on his behalf on January 9th. For more info, please contact me at