Bil Browning

UPDATED: Indianapolis Star Endorses Indy's Most Virulent Homophobe

Filed By Bil Browning | October 27, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Ginny Cain, homophobic politicians, Indianapolis, Indy Star, Jackie Butler, newspaper endorsement

While the Indianapolis Star endorsed out gay candidate Zach Adamson in his race for the Indy City-County Council yesterday, they took a completely different direction this morning. The newspaper endorsed Indianapolis' most virulently homophobic politician, Ginny Cain, banner_05_cain.jpgfor re-election over her Democratic opponent, out lesbian Jackie Butler.

Four years ago, Republican incumbent Ginny Cain ran unopposed for re-election. This time, she's drawn two challengers -- Democrat Jackie Butler and Libertarian Christopher Hodapp.

Cain, now completing her second term, has developed into a solid representative of her Far-Northeastside district. She's been a strong advocate for sound fiscal management and helped push innovative solutions, such as the utilities sale, for meeting the city's needs without resorting to tax increases.

Butler, an attorney, has served as a probation officer, public defender and acting judge. She knows the criminal justice and public safety side of local government well.

But Cain, despite a tendency to oversimplify issues at times, has served her district effectively. She deserves four more years on the council.

I wrote to the Star's editor and publisher to inquire about their selection criteria for candidates. If Cain had used slurs for any other minority groups and flatly said she wouldn't "ever" represent them, would they still endorse her campaign - especially when her challenger is a member of the community being subjected to bigoted and false accusations? I'm doubtful.

My letter to the newspaper staff after the break with more.

Here's what I wrote to Tim Swarens and Dennis Ryerson:

Dennis and Tim,

I'm writing a story on the Star's endorsement of Ginny Cain for the Indianapolis City-County Council today.

Since Cain has a history of making deeply offensive remarks about LGBT people, I'm wondering how that fit into the decision making process. The editorial states that she "has served her district effectively," and yet she blatantly says that she doesn't represent her gay and lesbian constituents.

She has called gay and lesbian constituents "unhealthy," "perverts," "sexual addicts," and responsible "for the destruction of human beings and civilization." She has repeatedly said that she would never vote in favor of anything that would benefit her LGBT constituents. Indianapolis Monthly just named her the most anti-gay Councilor in this month's issue and made special note of the fact that Jackie Butler, her opponent, is a lesbian.

So I'm curious how the Star ended up endorsing a candidate known for her extreme views on LGBT issues. If a councilor said similar derogatory things about another minority group, would the Star still endorse her? If a candidate had called an African-American opponent a "pervert," or a similar racial slur, would the Star endorse her? If not, what's the difference in the eyes of the editorial board?

My deadline for publication is 3pm today.

Thanks so much for responding.

Bil Browning

Unsurprisingly, I didn't get a response. I'll update this post if I do.

If you'd like to send your own e-mail to the duo to demand answers, you can email Tim Swarens or Dennis Ryerson yourself.

UPDATE: Tim Swarens has replied on the Star's decision-making process.


Thanks for your message. Members of the editorial board interviewed candidates, including Ginny Cain and Jackie Butler, about a variety of current issues and others that are likely to come before the council such as mass transit, infrastructure repair, public safety, parks funding and a comprehensive workplace smoking ban.

We based our decision in part on those interviews, but also the candidates' experience, and for incumbents their records in office.

We do have some concerns about Ginny Cain, as we noted in the editorial, but a majority of board members involved in the interviews thought that overall she has been a solid representative of her district, one she's twice been elected to serve by wide margins.

I apologize for bumping up against your deadline; it's been a very busy day.


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I'm pretty sure that if she had said similar things about any other minority group, the Indy Star wouldn't think 0.1 times before ignoring her and endorsing her opponent.

But as always, for many journalists, homophobia isn't really bigotry -- it's just another political point of view. It's for the same reason that we can still see Tony Perkins' smug face on TV from time to time.

"But as always, for many journalists, homophobia isn't really bigotry -- it's just another political point of view."

Wow, I never thought of it that I way, I just always assumed they didn't like gay ppl either, or at least didn't much care. Thanks for the differnt perspective! :)

Yes, indeed -- in the early 19th Century, supporting slavery was "just another political point of view" ...

Often, in historical perspective, we see that the real heavy lifting is getting a critical mass of people to acknowledge the true moral question involved.

That's ok, they'll come back for you. ;)

Wait, so actively hating a group of people is reduced to "despite a tendency to oversimplify issues at times"?

Bah, no one cares about the Star's endorsements anyway.