Chris Douglas

Why LGBT Hoosiers should vote for a Republican over a Democrat

Filed By Chris Douglas | September 28, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: election campaigns, indiana, indiana equality, kurt webber

The Indiana Equality Political Action Committee is a statewidebloghome2.png PAC established to elect candidates who will support and defend the needs of LGBT Hoosiers and their families. The committee is bipartisan and has now in 2010 issued endorsements of four Democrats and one Republican for the Indiana House of Representatives.

How, when, and to what extent such endorsements are publicized, I leave to the candidates themselves (who have been notified) and their advocates both on and off the PAC board. However, with the permission of one candidate, I am proceeding with publicizing his endorsement, which I consider to be of significant consequence for Indiana's gay citizens, our friends, families, and allies.

It is time that the GLBT community swing into strong support of the candidacy of Republican Kurt Webber for the Indiana House over that of incumbent Democrat Ed Delaney, and promote Webber's candidacy in the 86th District.

Some Bona Fides

By way of bona fides for this endorsement, it is important to note that that at the time of the vote, the PAC was majority Democrat and that the support of Democrats and Republicans together was required. Though I speak only for myself and in no official capacity for any of these organizations with which I have been associated, I speak as a member of the board of the PAC, the founder of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, as a member of the founding steering committees of Indiana Equality and of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination, and as an individual who representing Indiana Equality gave the press conference at the Indiana State House introducing the organization's public opposition to the attempt to amend the Indiana Constitution.

Further, I write as one who has never urged support for a Republican who I viewed as second to a Democrat with regard to public policy and the LGBT community, and indeed as one who has had no difficulty calling community attention to the relative backwardness of several specific Republicans attacking David Orentlicher, the seat's previous inhabitant, who was without question the State's most courageous defender of the LGBT community.

The Incumbent

First, for those who supported David Orentlicher (as even my Republican parents did), Representative Ed Delaney is no David Orentlicher. Standing on my lawn and soliciting my vote, Representative Delaney when he first ran told me that he supports current law banning same sex marriage. And, though civil rights law protects citizens from employment discrimination based on being, say, white, male, or Catholic or Protestant, Delaney expressed reservations about including the LGBT community in its protections.

When I asked why the law should not provide equal protections and religious freedoms to same sex couples, he asked my indulgence in understanding that he is Catholic. Though he cited same sex couples in his church, spoke glowingly of their adoptions, and his relations with them, he derived no apparent sense of responsibility for providing equal protection of the laws to their families.

In this regard, it should be understood that Ed Delaney, while no doubt a friendly person, on matters of public policy is to the right of a great many, even conservative, Republicans. Barry Goldwater twenty years ago argued for equal rights for gay citizens. President Gerald Ford said: "I think they ought to be treated equally. Period." Even Glenn Beck and Ron Paul characterizes marriage as a religious right [rite!?] that the government ought to have nothing to do with. On the other hand, Representative Delaney's public policy position seems to the right of Dick Cheney and indistinct from that of Ann Coulter.

The present incumbent's support for government legislative interference in our lives, and lack of passion for our defense, should come as no surprise to our community. After all, many of us well remember Ann Delaney, his wife, speaking at length in favor of passing the marriage ban into law in 1996 on Indiana Week in Review when she was Chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, (a law passed by a Democratic legislature and signed by a Democratic Governor.) With friends like these, silent in our defense and finding their voice only in support of measures of gross intolerance, who needs enemies?

The Need

Second, the 86th District more than any other district in the state is capable of producing a centrist leader, and should. The GLBT community needs that leader to be in the Republican Party. Why? The polls show overwhelming support among Hoosiers, as among all Americans, for extending the equal protection of the laws to glbt citizens. But history has shown repeatedly that in the absence of pressure from centrist Republican leadership, the job doesn't get done in Indiana.

This lack of progress in public policy in the Indiana legislature should be understandable to all, as the present incumbent himself is evidence of the problem. Among some Democratic legislators, why commit to progress when, even as you hold private views contrary to the equality of gay citizens, you can claim our votes? And how much easier it is if you can point to Republicans as being worse. Only when Republicans candidates and office holders are better has history shown that in Indiana we get general public policy progress from Democrats.

I submit that there is no scenario under which the Webber candidacy is not the better option for the 86th District, for the GLBT community, and for the State as a whole. Should the Democrats retain the House, we need a bold voice in the Republican minority caucus to demonstrate that old partisan lines no longer hold and to strip Democrats of their excuse for inaction . (Only upon the election of Scott Keller to the City County Council, and Republican sponsorship of an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance, did we finally see a majority coalesce for progress.) Should the Republicans win the House by several seats (as seems likely), even more so do we need a voice in the Republican Caucus around which support, present but still silent, can grow. (Many Republicans know that the support of younger Republicans for the Party now depends on progress.)

Finally, in the unlikely event that one vote determines the outcome, then we occupy a position of supreme importance. In Washington, it is the small number of centrists around whom public policy must be formed, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In the case of Indiana, however, policy formation would depend significantly upon the leverage of a candidate in Kurt Webber's position. For this reason, it is well for the community to be aware that the House Republican Campaign Committee has declined to offer any support for Kurt Webber, for it is known that Webber is his own man, and cannot be controlled. That is the kind of Representative the 86th District needs, and the glbt community needs, in the Indiana House of Representatives.

In the words fo Indiana Equality PAC: "Kurt is an outspoken champion of LGBT equality and received a 100% rating in IEPAC's candidate questionnaire and discussion. Kurt is running a strong campaign and will be a true trailblazer for equality and justice for all Hoosiers."

What You Can Do

Go to Kurt's website, wherever you may live, and pledge a contribution. Whether it is $25 or $500, your dollars will ensure that Kurt has the ability to fund publicity for his campaign. Second, especially if you are in Indiana's 86th District, request a yard sign. And for friends of Ed Delaney, don't accept mere sociability; nothing but support for full equality under the law for glbt citizens should be acceptable in a representative of the 86th District. Nothing less was acceptable to Barry Goldwater and Gerald Ford, nothing less is acceptable to the majority of America's younger generation (whether Republican or Democrat) and nothing less is acceptable to Kurt Webber, the better candidate for the 86th District.

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I had lunch with Kurt earlier in the summer after hearing that he was probably the only Republican (elected or candidate) at Pride in Indy. He told me in no uncertain terms that he'll vote against a Marriage Protection Amendment, and while he seems to be of the civil-unions-for-all crowd, he recognizes that as long as government says benefits are provided to married couples, then marriage should be equally open.

In addition to being a supportive voice of LGBT issues, Kurt believes that the Indiana House should be a Citizen's legislative body. He told me he has no political ambitions beyond serving as a state rep for a few terms, and then moving on with his life.

I wasn't aware of how far right Delaney's views on LGBT issues were. Maybe with a few more representatives like Webber (in all political parties), we could pass some legislation we could be proud of.

But with Webber unable/unwilling to keep Democrat Speaker of the House Pat Bauer in office, will that make a huge difference, Chris? Especially since the rumored would-be Speaker is known for his anti-gay stances. Previously, Brian Bosma was the Speaker but we all knew his position was based more on political points than true religious beliefs. How will this effect that?

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | September 29, 2010 11:35 AM


Thanks for the comment. You are speaking indeed directly to the point. First, the 86th District with regard to the Speakership is only one vote; if the Republicans are headed for a victory by more than one vote in the Indiana House (as seems highly likely), then who the 86th District Representative would vote for is of no importance. Even if that vote were the present incumbent's and that vote were for Bauer, it would be absolutely worthless, indeed worse than worthless. We would then have an incumbent in the minority party who lending moral support to the concept that government has a role interfering in the lives of gay citizens, rather than guaranteeing (as the Indiana Constitution demands) that any privilege or immunity extending to one class of citizen extends to all and that no religious preference be given by law to any creed. To the contrary, Delaney cited his creed, and his creed alone, to me in justifying his position that the law should refuse to recognize same sex marriages, regardless of the fact that many churches today marry same sex couples.

Webber, like Goldwater, Ford, Cheney, Beck, and Paul, takes the view that no religious view in our society can impose itself through the law over other views. Webber, by the way, is as much Catholic as Delaney, but Webber understands (as do the majority of the Catholic laity, by the way, according to polls) that Church's must role in Government should be limited.

Second, there would be the significant opportunity cost involved in supporting Delaney in a losing caucus. While we have a reluctant (on employment rights) or counter-productive (on rights to equal protection and religious freedom) status-quo incumbent taking up space in a powerless minority, we could have have instead a politically courageous and forward-looking individual in the Republican caucus willing and able to give voice to the vast majority of Hoosiers, young Republicans and Democrats and increasingly aware office holders alike, who believe that 1.) if the laws protect white male Cathoics (for example) from being fired based on their status and views, the laws should do the same for glbt citizens, and 2.) that government has no business protecting some decent law-abiding Hoosier families, but not others, for no good reason whatsoever beyond pure intolerance.

And if the Democrats win by more than one, we see (as we have) status quo still! An incumbent who has assigned a low priority to our concerns, and who willfully neglects the leverage that one of the most moderate, educated and progressive districts in the state afford. The 86th is a district where a full-throated defense of our communty would earn a candidate bi-partisan points, as was the case with Orentlicher, not threats to their incumbency. But Orentlicher was replaced with Democrat who decided to go a different direction, emphasizing fiscal issues alone, without regard to the injustices that Orentlicher fought against. He played it safe, as if someone else carried the responsibility. Understandable, given his personal reluctances and his willingness to subvert public policy to his own religious persepctive.

Here, too, the opportunity cost would be significant. The Democrats even as a majority have not moved anything with any seriousness because, while they view us as part of an electoral coalition, we are a controversial part which always places us low priority. They know they have conservative Democrats, especially in the Southern part of the State, who they feel they must protect from voting on matters affecting us. They don't want to open themselves up to attack from right wing conservatives. So... no progress on the easy stuff, and not even rhetorical support for us of the sort that is required to help change minds on the difficult stuff. As has always been the case, we need centrist Republicans (which include both "moderates" and "conservatives") to break the logjam, establish the necessary precedents, provide cover for helpful Democrats, and strip cover from the obstructionists.

As you observe in your comment about the former Speaker's reputed motivations, it is high time we understood our responsibility to change the dynamics of political power in Indiana, both today and in the future, which power has been the imperative Brian Bosma and Pat Bauer have been pursuing. Both have for political reasons been scrimmaging on a marriage amendment, while ignoring entirely the destructive effect of the debate on an innocent class of citizen. Neither has appeared, for political reasons, to support any progress of any sort that might produce an awkward vote.

It's time to break up the scrimmage, and move the ball forward.

By the way, make no mistake, there will be those on the far right will attempt to sabotage Webber's candidacy by driving support to Delaney, so they can claim that a candidate who (like Goldwater, Ford, and Paul) supports equality for glbt citizens can't win. And, if history is any indicator, the right wing could be joined in their effort by Democratic political partisans who, rather than demand progress of their candidate on glbt issues, instead seek to use the progress offered by the Republican against him, hoping happily to collect those votes of intolerance that the right wing is trying to drive away from centrist.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | September 29, 2010 11:43 AM


I forgot to mention those optimum scenario... where Webber is THE vote that would determine the outcome. Then he, more than any other in the house, would have have the ability to state expections and make conditions for a legislative agenda.



Rick Sutton | October 3, 2010 10:48 PM

An excellent post, Chris. It should inspire all of us to think about this race...closely. I did, and I'm still voting for Ed. It's a close call, but:

I think IE's PAC made a courageous move here. As much as I admire that, I cannot comprehend Kurt inside that House GOP Caucus. Have you checked the challenger list statewide? That caucus, win or lose the majority, is going to go even further right. They'll practically be an adjunct of Advance America. For that reason alone I can't vote for Kurt.

It'd be like opening a vein and watching the blood flow for sport.
Or slamming your finger with a hammer because it feels good when you stop.

My involvement in our movement goes deep, too. ICON and IE are strong causes, but we're not a monolithic community. I evaluate these candidates based on multiple issues, not just their status in a majority caucus or the Marriage fight.

Ed has been a staunch fighter on one of the issues most-important to me: public education. He rails regularly against that evil David Shane cabal. You know the one that hates public education but won't admit it?

Ed demands accountability from FSSA. The same FSSA that Mitch and Mitch allowed to be raped by an outside contract that lined the pockets of a few wealthy friends.

Ed believes in many things I believe in. I think he's a work in progress on gay rights.

This one is a close call. One way or the other, one of us will be happy the day after this election. If Kurt wins, I won't be sad...I'll pray mightily that he can survive the far-right onslaught in his own caucus.

Your community bona fides are impressive. I've got a couple too. I've been on the ballot in that district--it's wickedly independent. I'm sticking with the candidate I know and hoping he's part of a majority caucus. Yeah, it's imperfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Good luck to your candidate. And to you.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | October 4, 2010 6:31 AM

Thank you, Rick. Likewise.

To observers, I note your assessment of Delaney as a "work in process", and note that, generally speaking, the description applies to the whole Hoosier electorate, not just Ed. Our job is to help the Hoosier electorate along. In order to do that, we need our political candidates and office holders to be listed among the leaders in thought, not among those who need to be helped along. As long as our office holders are laggards, we will see less progress in the electorate than we are capable of, and no progress in public policy, which depends entirely on the officeholders.

I will offer a sidebar on FSSA. I am acquainted with a woman, very highly credentialed and of immense capability, who was hired for a position of leadership in the FSSA under the prior administration. She asked for reports on where money was being spent... in an organization of what.. hundreds of millions at least?... of expenditures, there were no reports available on where money was being spent. None. The computer system was incapable of even delivering such a report, and just one employee even knew how to extract the relevant data, which was dumped on her desk for her own analysis. She discovered that some leading employees were paying themselves overtime equivalent to entire salaries. She began to force matters, alarmed at what she was seeing. Because she became a threat to an immense scale of incompetence and corruption, the bureaucracy, with the best defense being a good offense, labeled her an inept trouble maker to the FSSA's director at the time, who I shall not name, but who was ill-equipped to run an organization of such size and complexity. The political appointee bought the bureacracy's label, and fired her. The whole stinking mess remained in place for the next administration.

Rick Sutton | October 4, 2010 11:04 AM

Oh, Chris...a sad story.

But the Kernan Administration did NOT hire-out the core functions, to a company corrupted by whorish behavior amogn gubernatorial cronies.

Why is it, that taking care of the least among us, invites so much damned corruption and graft?

A pox on all of them who prey on the poor. Evil personified.

As for works in progress, I'm one, too. Some days, I fall way short. Others, not so much. Others cna (and have, and will) judge that.

I still fear for Kurt in that caucus. He'll be like George Goble once said on the Johnny Carson Show:

"Ever feel like the world is a tuxedo, and you're a pair of brown shoes?"

And that, Chris, would be putting it very mildly.

I never knkew your recently-departed grandmother, but I know her daughter, and you do her very proud.

Chris Douglas Chris Douglas | October 5, 2010 1:46 PM

Rick, regarding Ed v. Kurt, I adhere to my observation that in the absence of a supportive Representative in the Caucus, we get nothing. With a supportive Republican, the dynamics can change overnight, witness the impact of Scott Keller on the City County Council.

In any case, I suggest to Stonewall Democrats that they consider retracting their endorsement of Delaney. While there may be other reasons for a Democrat to vote for him, the interests of the gay community as a whole are not among them. I suspect that Stonewall did not actually understand what they were getting. Their endorsement implies that on glbt issues he is more worthy of glbt support than Webber; on glbt issues, he is not.

Ethel Mae King was a wonderful person, Rick. We will miss her!