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Jerry Davich: Today no time to be on wrong side of history

Jerry Davich.

Jerry Davich.

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As Indiana regresses closer to permanently banning protections for gay and lesbian Hoosiers, I can’t help but wonder which side of history we will side on.

The right side, the fair side, the just side? Or the wrong side, the backward side, the bigoted side?

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee in the Indiana General Assembly will vote on whether to advance House Joint Resolution 3.

Formerly known as HJR-6, HJR-3 is a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution, essentially protecting the state’s existing ban on gay marriage while hammering another nail into the closet of gay rights (though “gay rights” is already an oxymoron here.)

HJR-3 also will ban Indiana from recognizing gay marriages from other states (where it’s legal) and preventing Indiana from legalizing these types of civil unions within our state.

Some of the Indiana lawmakers behind this controversial bill are still living in the 19th century, not the 21st century, and they think too backwardly about today’s social issues. Also, I believe they’re not voting with their brains, but with their bigotries, while too often relying on selective biblical scripture to bolster their outdated, unwanted and discriminatory judgments.

This is why I am writing about this issue today, though I wasn’t planning on doing so until Saturday afternoon. That’s when I became convinced that HJR-3 actually has a legitimate chance of getting forwarded by our lawmakers. This possibility astounds me.

I’m not alone, of course, in my opposition to this proposed bill, as many public officials, business groups and statewide organizations have come out of the proverbial closet to also oppose it for various reasons.

“We hope committee members will do the right thing and vote down this divisive amendment,” said Megan Robertson, campaign manager for FreedomIndiana.org. “But if they choose to move it forward, we’ll continue to remind them that it’s the wrong move for our state.”

FreedomIndiana.org is a statewide bipartisan coalition of individuals, businesses, faith leaders, civil rights and community organizations united to defeat HJR-3. The organization is hosting a rally on Monday at 6 p.m. (EST) in Indianapolis.

“The amendment sends a chilling message that some Hoosiers are more protected under our state’s founding document than others,” Robertson told me. “It will hinder our ability to recruit top talent and grow our economy, and it flies in the face of our hospitable reputation.”

If this bill is passed by the General Assembly, this issue will be on the ballot in November to be approved or rejected by Hoosier voters. Our public officials certainly know this.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is one of several region mayors who already publicly oppose the amendment, even suggesting that its name was changed to possibly confuse Hoosier voters.

“Others say it changed from HJR 6 to 3 because the bill has lost half of its supporters already,” McDermott wrote Saturday on his Facebook page. “If this initiative goes on the ballot, an incredible amount of NEGATIVE ATTENTION from across America will be focused on our state until we resolve this once and for all.”

“Obviously, this will hurt Indiana’s image across our country,” he added. “Also, attracting corporations to Indiana (like Boeing Corp.) will be MUCH harder if they think Hoosiers discriminate against gay couples. If it’s really about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, then why don’t we leave these divisive issues off the table and let the U.S. Supreme Court figure it out first?”

The most common complaint against gay marriage, gay relationships or gay anything, for that matter, involves the bible, with Christians quoting it religiously to justify their eternal opposition. Homosexuality is a sin. Period. End of discussion.

“I feel marriage is a union between man and woman. One of the main purposes of which is procreation,” said Peter G. of Portage. “I just don’t see how two men or two women can procreate as God has made us. That’s where my religious beliefs take me.”

Sound familiar?

“They are entitled to their selective biblical scripture. But they are not entitled to force their religious beliefs on the entire population of Indiana by enshrining them in the state Constitution,” countered Curt Ellis of Valparaiso. “(Lawmakers) were elected to represent all of their constituents, not just the evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.”

One protester’s handmade sign summed it up well for undecided Hoosiers, and hopefully for some of the fat-cat politicians who still support HJR 3: “Claiming that someone else’s marriage is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating a donut because you’re on a diet.”

Kenneth Stavitzke of St. John, noted a different viewpoint: “If there is one profound argument for same-sex marriage that perhaps everyone can agree upon, I believe that children (adopted, fostered and otherwise) all deserve the love and stability of two parents without regard to gender.”

At FreedomIndiana.org, visitors can sign and send this form letter to their lawmakers: “As your constituent, I’m writing to urge you to support liberty for all Hoosiers by rejecting HJR-3. In Indiana, we believe in ensuring liberty — not taking it away. That’s why the majority of Indiana voters oppose this divisive and hurtful attempt to alter our state’s constitution.”

“Major Indiana businesses ­— including Cummins and Eli Lilly & Co. — oppose the amendment because, like the majority of Hoosiers, they know that HJR-3 is bad for families, bad for business, and bad for Indiana. Please protect Hoosier families and vote NO on HJR-3.”

Republican supporters of the amendment recently issued a two-page explanation to better clarify the bill, its reach and intent. Such back-pedaling interpretations aren’t needed for those of us who can clearly read between its discriminatory lines.

A half century ago, a similar decision on a hotly contested social issue — civil rights — was offered to Americans, including Hoosiers. Eventually, through the prism of time and sanity, it was revealed how ignorant and intolerant those naysayers look to us now.

Today is no time to be on the wrong side of history once again.

Connect with Jerry via email, at jdavich@post-trib.com, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.



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