Testing…

Arguments about morality have been hurled from both directions in the fight over HJR3.  Those who want to place the ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution argue that (their version of) biblical morality demands it; those of us on the other side–religious and not– define morality in terms of how we treat other people, and find HJR3 lacking.

There’s another “moral” question involved, however, and it is less often noted.

You might think of HJR 3 itself as a moral test being administered to Indiana legislators.

I have a good friend who is a lobbyist. He’s over at the statehouse every day, and–like all lobbyists–engages in constant conversations with Indiana lawmakers. He tells me that a fair number of those who can be counted on to vote for HJR3 know it is the wrong thing to do. They will admit–privately–that it will hurt Indiana, hurt children being raised in GLBT families, that it is bad public policy, and even that it is morally wrong.

But they “have to” vote for it because they represent conservative areas of the state. Because they might face a primary challenge if they vote their minds and consciences. Because it would be awkward explaining a “no” vote to their constituents.

My friend finds this understandable, if regrettable. I find it despicable.

Sometimes, life gives us hard choices. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we have to choose between doing what we know is the right thing and doing the easy, self-serving thing.  How we act in those situations is the true test of character and morality.

Some of our legislators are truly homophobic. Others believe, for whatever reason, that gay citizens are not entitled to equal rights. They’re wrong, and most of them probably realize that they’re on the wrong side of history. But they’re voting their beliefs, however benighted I may consider those beliefs.

The truly contemptible lawmakers are the ones who know better, the ones unwilling to do what they know is right because doing so might entail some personal cost.

They fail the test. Big time.

 

20 thoughts on “Testing…

  1. If anyone doubts the idiocy of this current battle in the Indiana House; they need to see there is no rationalization for the faction voting to uphold this law for THEIR religious convictions, forcing them on others, while spouting the 1st Amendment as their basis. Those lobbyists and elected official who are voting against their own convictions of what is right as well as legal, saying they are supporting their constituents have forgotten those constituents who are members of the LBGT residents and their supporters in their areas. They are only fooling themselves and, like sheep, following the Judas goat into anti-1st Amendment oblivion…and hopefully removal from office in upcoming elections.

    I am well aware that my words fall on deaf ears; the harm done to many residents in this state will not be seen by their blind eyes. They look only inward and feel no remorse for their actions, knowing this red state will allow it and probably continue voting for these same self-involved, pseudo religious elected officials. Other states are watching; businesses around the country are watching, and for those who spout religious support for their actions, God is watching.

  2. The word “Leadership” came to mind reading your piece today. These legislators totally fail in their leadership skills. Instead of leading the boobs out of their ignorant villages into the light, the cater to the darkness. Sad. Now millions of dollars will be wasted on an ugly divisive campaign to hurt gay families. Sad & wasteful. And we will have to listen to stupid hurtful ads on radio and TV for months. ICK. Then …. who know?

  3. Thank you, Sheila, for your always insightful and fair commentary; it is much appreciated and shared with others. We will keep trying to educate folks, and in the meantime, keep trying to urge people to “do the right thing” in an effort to make a difference. Hard as it may seem for some of these elected officials to retain their seats if they vote for equality, even harder it should be for them to live with their conscience of doing the unconscionable.

  4. I used to think I was republican. I used to think the fiscal conservative policies made sense. I liked the idea of small government staying out of the way as much as possible. What happened to that party? Unfortunately, i’m guessing it will be a long time before I vote anything other than straight ticket Dem.

  5. Sheila, this is a wonderful column. Maybe it will be seen by a couple of these “have to” legislators who will realize that they “have to” do the right thing, no matter how hard it is.

    Those who will vote for HJR-3 anyway…Despicable? Definitely. Reprehensible? Absolutely. Cowardly, craven? Exactly.

    I would, though, suggest one thing. The title, “Testing…” could be seen by some as just a “test post” to see if your blog is working, and they might skip reading the column. This is one that shouldn’t be skipped.

  6. Years ago an Activist from the Left I know, made the observation you are wasting precious time trying to convince those with entrenched beliefs they are misguided. Quite simply they are brainwashed from birth, and receive continuous reinforcement through out their lives. They reject Science when it clashes with beliefs they were taught in the “Young Earth” creationism.

    The same holds true here in Gay Marriage or Civil Unions. You are probably not going to convince the Bible Thumpers they are wrong. My friend’s advice was to focus on changing the minds of those who are open to the message and make doubly sure your allies remain active.

    Sheila, you are correct the Lawmakers who are contemptible are the ones who know in their hearts they wrong in discriminating against Gay’s but for their own personal gain seek to enshrine bigotry in Indiana.

  7. Maybe they should ask AZ representatives how the Papers Please law affected the state’s income? Many many people have decided, since the AZ Governor signed the law, that they don’t want to come for vacation anymore. Maybe, just maybe, when it starts to impact their bottom line, they will stand up and take notice. The only thing that won’t work with this argument is that Indiana isn’t a state that draws tourists. Except maybe to a football weekend. No funds from sales tax and/or hotel tax and then maybe, they will take notice?

    Haaa haaa, I crack myself up.

  8. The truest leaders in history are the ones that had the courage to go against their own majority to do what was right. They were not just leaders, they were also heroes.

    Those who voted yesterday to advance this bill…. going against their minds and consciences to do so – are not leaders or heroes. They are cowards. And history will depict them as such. In the future, we will read about this fight and watch movies about this movement and we will shake our heads at the depiction of these lawmakers. We will be ill at the thought that people used to treat (and vote against) other citizens in this way.

    And Indiana? Indiana will be where that bigotry and prejudice took place.

  9. Last night’s committee hearing, where many on both side gave impassioned testimony, was in reality a charade. The GOP lawmakers scarcely asked a single question, revealing how open their minds were to the actual testimony. When the Democratic reps asked for time to digest the testimony they heard mere minutes before, the were struck down. In reality, the committee could have walked in and voted because not one ‘No’ voter ever considered for a moment the testimony being delivered.

    I have great faith that, in time, SCOTUS will acknowledge that the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment will supersede any state laws restricting equity. But the cost to Hoosiers in terms of actual dollars, dividing neighbor against neighbor, and our standing as a state to the country at-large will be substantial. It’s staggering that the party of big business ignored big business in its quest to ramrod this divisive, flawed policy.

    A very sad day to be a Hoosier.

  10. Thanks Sheila! Reminds me of this quote: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” -MLK, Jr.

  11. Thank you Shelia for your insight I do enjoy reading your thoughts. I’d like to share some of my personal experiences with you and your readers. While earning my degree at Purdue I had a political science professor lecture one day on the significance of history and the role it plays in shaping public policy. For those elected officials who will not risk voting against the will of their constituents, when they are aware that the desire of their constituents is not for the good of ALL the people, they should consider the position that our founding fathers faced in regards to ending slavery. It would appear that the entire nation did not believe that owning another human being was a problem. It took a few courageous men to push legislation and actions that clearly was not the desire of their constituents. However, it was the right thing to do.

    Although many religions may not allow gays and lesbians to be married in their churches, this should not preclude a marriage under the law. Marriage represents many things to all of us and is a right that every citizen should have. No matter your faith one thing is needed for every citizen to be married and that is a marriage license – a document issued by the government not the church. I am very disappointed that many believe it is acceptable to with hold a right from someone when they themselves enjoy the same right they wish to withhold from others.

    100 years ago my grand parents were married in western Kentucky at a time when marrying outside of your race was illegal. Today people would rise up if they government disallowed interracial marriages. As we continue to evolve things will change and unless some things are challenged change may not happen.

  12. PatMcC. I agree, as Sheila observes it’s a matter of leadership in taking tough but right decisions. Lobbyists paid to represent political or industry interests not their own, like big tobacco, can find themselves conflicted in their roles in issues of morality however. What to do as an employee of a lobbying company tasked with representing a morally repugnant client your company has taken on … when you are a family’s sole bread winner & can’t afford to leave the company on a matter of principle?

    Kilroy, in Australia our current Federal Liberal Government (as of September 2013), which is traditionally like the Republican Party you describe, has also been overtaken by conservative agendas since coming to government: women’s rights, abortion, gay marriage. Legislation recently passed in one state to allow same sex marriage – where hundreds of couples from all over Australia travelled to that state to get married – has, initiated by the Federal Government, now been challenged by Australia’s High Court on a ‘legal technicality’ to overturn this state legislation.

  13. Your article points out perfectly the distinction between a politician and a statesman. We are awash with politicians, when we need statesmen.

  14. TO ALL OF SHEILA’S READERS/COMMENTERS: PLEASE OPEN YOUR STAR TODAY, SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 2014, TURN TO PAGE A10 AND READ “VETERAN KICKED OUT OF HJR-3 HEARING FOR A SILENT GESTURE”. THIS ARTICLE SHOWS HOW LOW THE STATE OF INDIANA AND IT’S ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE STOOPED IN THEIR BID TO RULE OUR LIVES AT ALL LEVELS. THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY JOHN KRULL, DIRECTOR OF FRANKLIN COLLEGE’S PULLIAM SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM. HIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT STAFF SGT. SCOTT SPYCHALA, A U.S. AIR FORCE VETERAN WHO IS ACTIVE WITH AMERICAN VETERANS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS (AVER) AND AN ELEQUENT SPOKESMAN WITH HIS SILENT GESTURE DURING THE COMMITTEE MEETING, A MEETING WHICH WAS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN AFTER QUESTIONABLE TACTICS BY BOSMA. READ THIS ARTICLE AND PASS IT ON; IT IS INSPIRATIONAL.

  15. AgingLittleGirl; thank you for posting the link to this important article showing the total disrespect elected officials in the state of Indiana have for it’s residents and the power they have to control even an innocent silent gesture. I am appalled and disgusted by the situation and by the lack of interest bordering on total disregard for this action. Thank you most of all for caring enough to read the article and provide this link.

  16. JoAnn, You’re welcome. Your comments on this blog have provided me with some interesting viewpoints and I look forward to reading them. Peace to you and yours.

  17. Interesting to note though that many of the votes against HJR3 came from rural Republican representatives. I was not surprised when you know and talk to some of them. They bucked the leadership yet they listened to the calls and personal contacts made from the “locals”. Poor Bosma is on the back side of a mediocre career.

  18. Regardless of desire or consent, it is not unjust discrimination to discriminate between acts that respect the inherent personal and relational dignity of the human person, and acts that do not respect our inherent dignity as human persons. Marriage, by its inherent nature is restrictive to begin with because not every couple can exist in relationship as husband and wife. If, in order to be married, it is no longer necessary to exist in relationship as husband and wife, any relationship can be defined as marriage if one so desires.

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