Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sometimes, We Win

Many of you are involved, at some level or another, in the political process. You probably know that, at times, it can be a really draining occupation, especially when you're working on an issue that you feel strongly about.

I've done a few phone bankings with Freedom Indiana on defeating HJR-3. And without getting too specific, we used a system that would target people in specific Republicans in House districts, call them up, and tell them to contact their legislators to oppose HJR-3. We'd only work on general assembly members who were uncommitted.

One of those was Jerry Torr, a Republican from Noblesville.

I attended one of the phone bankings that targeted Torr's district.

I remember it really well because I felt like I was hitting road blocks the entire time I was calling in his district.

One person responded, after I gave my introduction, "Is this about Obamacare? Because if so, I'm against it".

A few just hung up.

One person quoted the Bible and then hung up.

One guy asked a lot of great questions such as what committee it was assigned to (at the time, it was still HJR-6 and it had no committee assignment) and even though he was on our side, he refused to do the transfer until he did more research.

I don't know if the handful of transfers helped Mr. Torr decide or not. But I'd like to believe it helped in a small way.

That's change. Even if HJR-3 passes, that is how you get people to change. You make phone calls, you talk, you get your voice heard.

It isn't always the sexiest process out there. It doesn't mean everything will be resolved the next day, the next month, or the next election cycle.

But sometimes, those small victories mean a lot. And I'd like to thank  Rep. Torr and his constituents for giving me this small victory.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Proponents of #HJR3 Should Think of Long-Term Impact

HJR-3, the proposed constitutional amendment that would super-duper ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, etc..., has passed a committee vote in the Indiana House of Representatives. The proponents of HJR-3 were excited for a victory that, a few days ago, may not have happened since the original committee was likely to vote it down.

It is evident that, due to the support of much of the evangelical and Tea Party groups, that proponents of this amendment largely take a stance based on their Christian faith. This is not to say there aren't proponents of HJR-3 who take their stance based on other reasons, but the vast majority of them are based on faith.

And I want to speak to those people.

Let's first off point out that there is no push for additional legislation for marriage regulations and laws based on Christian faiths. In some Christian faiths, it is forbidden to re-marry. Even if you divorce that person in a civil court, the Church may still see you as a married couple. In the Roman Catholic Church, there is a process known as annulment, but it is a difficult, long, and costly process, and not all annulments are granted.

Why is that?

Some of the major proponents, both within the legislature and the movers and shakers of the evangelical activist groups, have been married and divorced multiple times. State House gossip suggests a lot more than passing laws goes in when the legislature is in session. Yet the evangelical groups, the Moral Majority crowd, welcome these people into their fundraisers with open arms.

Why is that?

And finally, let's think of the long-term impact of HJR-3, the possibility that a religious belief will be enshrined in our state constitution.

What happens in 50, 100, or 200 years, if Christianity is no longer are the majority religion? What if another religion is the majority, or atheism and agnosticism is wide spread? Is it now okay to impose religious believes, either by statute or by the constitution, just because one has the power to do so?

I think freedom means freedom for everybody. And I hope my fellow Christians will stand up for everyone's freedom. Maybe then, they'll stand up when your freedom could be put to a vote.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Some Pondering on #INLegis and Marriage

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are from a non-legally trained, and may very well be illegally trained, mind.

The amendment to define marriage and something-something-something and place it in the Indiana Constitution has been HJR-6 for quite some time. Bills and resolutions get their numbers based on when they're filed, and this one has been HRJ-6 for several years, both when it received hearings in committee and when it hasn't. So it is quite interesting that now, in the 2014 legislative session that may very well pass it and put it on a ballot in November, it has changed from HJR-6 to HJR-3.

Opponents of the amendment have already produced yard signs and other merchandise using "HJR-6" or "Nix 6". I predict the Freedom Indiana folks will be ordering a massive amount of "3" stickers soon.

HJR-3 in and of itself is only two sentences long. But it is accompanied by HB 1153. At first glance, HB 1153 is fairly innocent. It sets up the ballot measure if HJR-3 passes, establishing the wording that would be used if and when HJR-3 is put to a public vote, and that sort of stuff. But HB 1153 also attempts to establish legislative intent and interpret what HJR-3 means legally. 

To my non-legally trained mind, that sounds kind of illegal. Legislative statute shouldn't define or interpret a constitutional provision. In fact, it is a constitution that defines what a  legislature's powers are, not the other way around. And even if it could, the companion bill could be struck down by a court or repealed by a later legislature.

This Saturday, Mark Small and I will be hosting Civil Discourse Now and discussing the HJR-3 issue. I'm sure we'll also be addressing the more broad issues of marriage equality and other issues concerning the LGBT community.

Joining us on the show will be a couple of good folks from Freedom Indiana. Campaign manager Megan Robertson and deputy campaign manager Peter Hanscom will be calling in during the broadcast. Regular readers of the blog will remember Megan running Mayor Greg Ballard's re-election campaign in 2011. She has worked a long time in Republican electoral politics and has been an interesting choice to run this very different campaign.

Also joining us will be LGBT activist Tanya Domi. She was on the show last September when we last discussed marriage equality.

We are working on getting a guest who are for the passage on HJR-3. While Mark and I both have our views, we are eager to get all views out as part of our discussion. All guests will be treated fairly with respect.

We will air this show live, Saturday, at 11am-1pm. You can tune in via Indiana Talks' website, or download the "Tunein Radio" app on your smartphone or tablet and point it to "Indiana Talks".