(Photo by Joe Vitti / The Star)
Muncie, Indiana – The republican party and Governor Mike Pence are rewriting the history books on how Indiana is perceived if they continue their push on banning same-sex marriage. Their anti-diversity stance is the first time an amendment to our Indiana constitution will take away rights of a Hoosier. They also find themselves on the opposite side of the argument with the two largest employers in our Hoosier state.
Indiana’s political leadership may be trying too hard to appeal to the Tea Party, Koch brother, global corporation (ALEC) supported base which is trying to overtake the republican party. While the neo-conservative extremists are making their mark in the Southern states and Wisconsin, Governor Pence is trying to draw attention his way as well. Maybe he’s afraid one of the extreme right republican governors like Scott Walker or Ted Cruz are gaining traction and pose a threat to him becoming being a front-runner for a presidential bid.
We never knew what exactly a Hoosier was, but we all know it meant an open and friendly populace. Hoosier hospitality is what we are known for in Indiana. We take pride in it. We love Jim Neighbors singing ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ even though Jim is a gay man. We also like our Indy 500 Champions to drink wholesome milk after their victory.
We tout that a Hoosier hand shake means something – we stand behind our word and you can trust us. We stand for hard work and fairness.
Well, our previous governor and now Mike Pence are rewriting our legacy. Instead of standing up against the hate filled rhetoric coming from the extreme right conservatives – they embrace it. Instead of using former Sen. Richard Lugar’s defeat to a questionable Tea Party candidate as a sign Indiana has gone too far, they seized the moment as one of triumph.
Mitch Daniels took a stand against ‘Right to Work’ legislation early in his governorship, but endorsed it later. In 2010, a new crop of Tea Party candidates were elected into office and abandoned their campaign promises for writing social reforms. Then Gov. Daniels appeared on national television and condemned those acts, but later changed his mind.
Well, we’ve learned a lot about Mitch Daniels this year. He appointed 80% of Purdue’s board who later hired him during an off-site, non-public process. When a newspaper asked the board for hiring documentation, they declined to provide it. We’ve learned that Mitch tried to censor a peoples perspective to history and insisted a conservative view be taught to students.
So far this year, Mike Pence was caught misleading Hoosiers about the Affordable Care Act by telling us our rates would “go higher”. When he found out about Mitch Daniels attacks on academic freedoms, and 92 Purdue professors complained, did Mike support his teachers? No. Mike said nothing.
Muncie Voice learned this week that Mike created a new education committee in an attempt to circumvent the publicly elected superintendent of education. He didn’t even have the guts to tell her in person even though he had spoken to her frequently.
The same-sex marriage ban goes against Hoosier principles of fairness and being open to diversity. As we said, it also goes against the two largest employers in the state: Eli Lilly and Cummings, Inc.
Last week during a rally against the constitutional ban, Eli Lilly executive Rob Smith said, “Our values and our commitment to diversity require us to take a stand in opposing this amendment.”
Eli Lilly understands that an open and diverse community is needed to draw talented young professionals to your company.
We’re sure college campuses understand that when trying to attract young students to their schools, this ban will work against them. The Hoosier state will be seen as closed-minded and backward. It’s such a contradiction to our heritage.
A former republican staffer of Luke Messer (who opposes same-sex marriages), Megan Robertson is leading the ‘Freedom Indiana’ campaign against the marriage ban. She said, “Indiana has always been a welcoming community known for our Hoosier hospitality. This amendment directly contradicts the reputation that has helped us recruit jobs and economic investment for our state.”
Two of our largest employers in the state are against the ban and traditionally support the republican party, and a republican is leading the grass roots organization opposing the same sex marriage ban. We believe this is a turning point for Indiana. More republican leadership will need to emerge and take a stand against the extremism by symbolically stating, “We’ve crossed the line, and we cannot go beyond this point!”
We believe the republican leadership has gone too far in trying to appease this new faction of extremism within their party. Yet, many will discount our view because we support the people and common sense and refuse to be sucked into the hate and rhetoric underlying this ‘ southern evangelical conservative’ movement. It will take leaders within the republican party who will stand up to these far right bullies by holding up their hands to say, “Not in our state!”
One only need to read the headlines in Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina to see where this is heading. It’s not pretty. These are not the principles and values we value in Indiana. This is not what defines a ‘Hoosier’.