For the first time in history, LGBT Hoosiers have reason to believe that things are starting to really get better in the state they love.
For starters, the Indiana GOP has no plank in its platform on marriage. This omission was either a major oversight or a signal that times are changing in Indiana on the issue of marriage equality. It perhaps shows that the GOP, at least in Indiana, is starting to perhaps believe that defending their version of "traditional marriage" isn't such a winning wedge issue any more.
Let's hope they take the next step and fail to reintroduce HJR-6. After all, they would just be doing it on their own now with no supporting plank in their own party's platform.
More change was evident on the Democratic side where traditionally Hoosier Democrats have seen their party try to stay out of the fight when it comes to LGBT issues. This year, State Chairman Dan Parker should be praised. Diversity and equality were both themes of the Indiana Democratic Party Convention in Fort Wayne and came up in convention speech after convention speech.
Congressman Andre Carson urged men to get right and stop practicing sexism and homophobia. Addressing the Indiana Stonewall Democrats and Progressives, Scott Reske announced a position change to now favoring marriage equality essentially reversing his vote on HJR-6 from 2011. Joe Donnelly went further than 2010 Senate candidate Brad Ellsworth did and told the Stonewall caucus said he would oppose any constitutional amendment on marriage. Vi Simpson told LGBT Hoosiers to "push back hard" against anyone telling them that they don't reflect Hoosier values. Finally, and most historically, an official plank was adopted to the party platform in opposition to writing discrimination into the Indiana Constitution when it comes to marriage. Belief in marriage equality is essentially in writing for Hoosier Democrats.
The 19th state's Democrats also are sending several LGBT delegates to the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte. Many of these delegates were not appointed by the Indiana Democratic Central Committee but were elected by delegates in each Congressional District caucus at the state convention.
It's not just D's and R's, though, pushing the equality torch forward, on the Libertarian side of things, Rupert Boneham and his party have both made it clear that they stand for equality. The Indiana Libertarian Party, in fact, has gone further than both of the other parties and has been the most liberal on the issue thus far.
These are baby steps, but they are steps in the right direction. When gay and lesbians can live openly, serve openly, and love openly, that benefits our state. Someday, we won't even talk about these issues as committed Hoosiers, regardless of gender, are able to get married in front of family and friends and have that marriage mean something and be recognized by the state. I know I left my party's convention more hopeful than ever that that day is not very far off.
Do we have other issues we can be looking that need to be addressed? Certainly. I bristle, though, when people say that this is an issue that is somehow less important than others. That's simply because the person usually saying it is not living it. It's important to place yourself in another's shoes to see what the world looks like from their perspective. For LGBT Hoosiers, this is part of their civil rights that are being denied in a state-sponsored manner. That's not right, and none of the fearmongering slippery slope arguments explain why keeping two committed humans apart is a good idea.
Let's hope this spirit of acceptance and tolerance continues and the pace of progress continues to accelerate as we move into 2012 and beyond.