Tag Archives: HJR6

When Abstaining Isn’t

There’s been an unpleasant little episode playing out at IUPUI, where I teach. Although both Indiana University and IUPUI have officially come out in opposition to HJR6–passage of which would make it incredibly difficult to recruit first-rate faculty–the Executive Committee of IUPUI’s Staff Council recently decided to abstain, and remain neutral.

As the name suggests, the Staff Council is an organization of staff–the administrative assistants, IT experts, development professionals and others without whom the university simply couldn’t operate. And evidently (unlike the situation with faculty, virtually all of whom oppose the measure), some staff members support HJR6.  So the Executive Committee–without a staff vote and in what I take to be an effort to avoid controversy–decided to sit this one out.

The problem is, there are some things you can’t sit out. There are some issues–and this is one of them–where taking “no position” is taking a position.

We don’t think kindly these days about the white Southerners who decided to “stay neutral” about segregation, or the whites (North and South) who “stayed neutral” about discrimination in housing and on the job.

When you say “Well, maybe black children should be entitled to go to school with white ones, but a lot of my neighbors think blacks are inferior and I don’t want to piss off my neighbors so I’ll just stay quiet and accept the status quo,” you are endorsing that status quo. When you say “I know gay people already can’t marry in Indiana, but some of my colleagues want to make sure we outlaw civil unions too, and I don’t want to argue with them,” you are endorsing the legitimacy of your colleagues’ anti-equality position.

I understand that some Christians–certainly not all, or these days even most–consider homosexuality a sin. That is their right. Their churches have a right to preach that doctrine, a right to refuse to marry same-sex couples, to write letters to editors and to fulminate to their family members at Thanksgiving. But in our constitutional system, they should not have a right to deny gay people equal treatment under the law, and (however grudgingly and inconsistently) most courts, government institutions and everyday Americans have come to agree.

The right to equal treatment by civil authority is more than a constitutional requirement; it is a moral touchstone of American culture. It’s not something one can be neutral about.

Refusing to engage–abstaining from the struggle in an effort to placate everyone–satisfies no one. It’s cowardice–and betrayal.   


My Very Own, Home-Hatched Conspiracy Theory

Maybe I’ve been drinking too much of the seasonal eggnog.

Yesterday, I began to hear reports that Brian Bosma and David Long had decided to reject Common Core. Now, in the real world, that makes no sense–Indiana is well along the trajectory of implementing Common Core, some 75% of teachers endorse it, and most of the opposition comes from folks who automatically resist anything promoted by the federal government (because, you know, it’s being promoted by the federal government), and others who don’t know the difference between standards and curriculum.

Changing back to state-specific standards now will be very costly. So why would a couple of fiscal watchdogs who supported Common Core when Tony Bennett was in office take this sudden U-Turn?

Here’s where my eggnog addled conspiracy theory kicks in: Bosma and Long really, really want to extricate themselves from the no-win mess they’ve gotten themselves into over HJR6. They want to change that second sentence and kick that can down the road. But there’s Eric Miller, with his mega-church primary voters, and he needs to be appeased by winning something. There must be some bone to throw him. The media has turned up the heat on the negligent and/or abusive “Church ministries” daycare operations he’s intent upon protecting. So–let’s let him “win” the battle against those awful feds and their Common Core!

LIke I say, maybe it’s the eggnog.

Maybe it isn’t.


In Praise of (Certain) Republicans

If there is hope for the re-emergence of the Republican Party to which I gave a significant chunk of my adult life, it lies in the actions of seven GOP members of the Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night.

Republicans Will Gooden, Ben Hunter, Robert Lutz, Janice McHenry, Michael McQuillen, Jeff Miller and Jefferson Shreve joined all of the Democratic council members in support of a resolution urging the Indiana General Assembly to reject HJR6. (For anyone who has spent the last couple of years on Mars, HJR6 would place Indiana’s current statutory ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution, and would add gratuitous language outlawing civil unions and official recognition of anything else creative minds might consider “equivalent” to marriage.)

Six Republicans voted against the resolution, but the future of the GOP–if it has one–lies with the seven who refused to be bullied by activists from the far right fringes.

The capture of one of America’s major political parties by extremists has made governing–and civil discourse– virtually impossible.  It has already made GOP candidates unelectable in urban areas, and caused wholesale defections elsewhere.

Those seven Republicans understand something that too many of those remaining in the Grand Old Party seem to have forgotten: politics isn’t–or shouldn’t be–religion. When every vote becomes a test of moral purity, when every issue is a contest between Good and Evil, when any deviation from Approved Doctrine is blasphemy and anything less than ardent affirmation is evidence that the errant member has gone over to the dark side, what you have isn’t a political party.

It’s a cult.

Kudos to the seven who refused to drink the Kool-aid. May their numbers increase.