Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hoosier Opinions Change But Radical Right-Wing Republicans Don't

A great editorial in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette argues that progressives don't need to spend their energies trying to change the hearts and minds of Hoosiers on such issues as same sex marriage, gun control, and immigration; state polling already shows a shift in public opinion on such issues. There just haven't not been any commensurate changes in Republican politicians:
What’s not changing is the resistance of Indiana elected officials to recognize those changes, a resistance affecting not just gay marriage but dozens of issues held hostage by an ultra-conservative faction effectively employing its electoral clout. Until more moderate voices do the same, Indiana will continue to waste time on divisive issues that hamper its economic progress.
The editorial concludes that progressives need to focus on getting people to the polls: "If Indiana is ever to escape the quagmire of divisive and backward cultural issues, moderate and progressive voices need to spend less time changing hearts and minds and more time registering voters and getting them to the polls." Amen to that. You can read the entire op-ed here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Democrats Slate Six Candidates for Local Offices

Saturday's caucus resulted in the slating of six Democratic candidates for county and township offices. They include the following:

• Thomas Busch will run for Circuit Court judge against Republican Les Meade.

• Eric Grossman is the Tippecanoe County assessor candidate against Republican Linda Phillips.

• Michael Childress is slated for the Wea Township Board

• Michael Oxenrider is slated for the Wabash Township Board.

• Larry Funk is the confirmed candidate for the Lauramie Township Board.

• Ashley Smith is slated for the Fairfield Township Board.

Party chair Heather Maddox says, “We’re very excited about these candidates. It’s a great group of people. They’re solid people from top to bottom.”

The Journal and Courier ran a story about Eric Grossman's experience for the assessor office; read it here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stay Granted on Overturning of Same Sex Marriage Prohibition in Indiana

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's request a stay of Judge Richard Young's overturning of Indiana's same sex marriage law was granted by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago pending appeal to the Supreme Court. Several similar rulings have been handed down by federal courts in the past several months (all of them ruling that same sex prohibition violates equal rights and equal protection), so it seems likely that the Supreme Court will provide a ruling in the foreseeable future.

However, the stay leaves same sex couples who have been granted marriage licenses and were married during the time when it was legal in Indiana in a kind of legal limbo; read more about it from USA Today here. Sunday's op-ed by the Journal and Courier's editorial staff was headlined "Why Not Today on Same Sex Marriage?" Why not indeed. The J&C editorial concludes, "The biggest winners here are those who understood that the institution of marriage changed not one iota on Wednesday in a state where same-sex couples also are allowed the equal rights and equal protections marriage offers."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Indiana Ban on Same Sex Marriage Ruled Unconstitutional!

On the same day that a federal appellate court ruled against the Utah ban on same sex marriages, Indiana U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana's law was unconstitutional. In his ruling, Young wrote that “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.” He goes on to say that, "In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as (the) plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage." And Judge Young notes that he has never seen a phenomenon in the federal court system like the same sex marriage cases, all of which have been decided in favor of the same sex couples. You can read all of Judge Young's ruling in Dave Bangert's column in the Journal and Courier here.

Meanwhile dozens of same sex couples rushed to their county clerks' offices to obtain a marriage license and to get married. You can see video footage of Indiana's first same sex marriage from the Journal and Courier here.

Meanwhile Indiana Public Media reports that Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey says she believes the court ruling only applies to counties named in the lawsuit. “I regret that I am upsetting some citizens of the county but I do take an oath, as I said, to uphold the law and at this moment I am not aware that the law has changed for Tippecanoe County,” Coffey says. The Journal and Courier has video of her explaining that the she can't issue licenses because the forms still contain the terms "bride" and "groom."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Group Will Educate About Same Sex Marriage

A new group, Hoosiers Unite for Marriage, will launch a statewide campaign to promote the right to marry for same sex couples. Freedom Indiana helped to defer the Indiana constitutional amendment on marriage, but its goal is only to prevent the adoption of the constitutional amendment. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Hoosiers Unite can't be directly involved in political or legislative work. "Our mission is really to educate the public and engage with the public," Megrath said. "As long as people are having these conversations at this critical mass, we want to make sure people are hearing really good and powerful stories." The group will focus on sharing the stories of same sex couple who are disadvantaged by the state's stance. Read more here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pelath Says Dems Will Use Data to Combat Extremism

Democratic House minority leader Scott Pelath says in an op-ed that the Republican Party has become an extremist organization under the control of the Tea Party. To combat that extremism, Pelath says state Democrats should view that situation that situation as "an opportunity for Indiana’s Democrats to show ourselves as the party that is in touch with working families and values hard work." Pelath says Democrats will use the same "big data" analytic tools that have brought victories on the national stage. Data will be the basis upon which field organizers will deploy trained local volunteers to "reach the voters who are most impacted by Indiana Republicans’ restrictive Tea Party agenda." Read Pelath's entire op-ed here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mourdock: US Going the Way of Nazi Germany

Republican state treasurer Richard Mourdock has a gift for saying offensive things that upset people, as when he famously said that when a woman becomes pregnant by rape “it is something that God intended.” Now, in what we can only hope is his swan song in public life, he has insisted to the State Republican convention that the US is headed towards become a Fascist state because of its state of "bankruptcy." He set up a lengthy analogy to the Nazi takeover of Germany. Many were offended, including some Republicans. But how did the audience at the Republican convention receive his remarks? With a standing ovation. Read more about Mourdock's remarks here.

John Krull of Franklin College notes that Mourdock is wrong about most every point he makes, including that Hitler was elected into office by the German people. But more importantly he is wrong about the US fiscal condition:

The U.S. government’s debt as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product has begun to decline – and even at its peak was below the debt-to-GDP ratios of most other developed nations, including Japan, Great Britain and Germany. It also is not as high as it has been at other times in our history.

The fact that the debt-to-GDP ratio is even as high as it is a product of our decisions, during the early 2000s, to launch into two expensive wars – one of them ill-advised – and give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Those tax cuts never delivered the promised economic boom. The tax rates for most Americans, particularly the most wealthy, are at the lowest level since the late 1940s, something grievance junkies such as Mourdock never acknowledge.

And the bulk of our debt is held not by others, but by us – by American citizens and corporations.
Read Krull's full remarks here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Republican Platform Doubles Down on Marriage

They debated the language of a marriage plank in the Republican platform, considered some "softer" versions, but in the end writers of the Indiana Republican platform opted for the most radical formulation of their position, one that calls that calls marriage between a man and woman the “foundation of society.” It was the only platform plank that did not receive unanimous approval. In 2012 the party opted not to include a marriage plank in its platform, but, in response to the faltering of the Indiana constitutional amendment and the wave of states legalizing same sex marriage, the party has opted to double down on its uncompromising insistence that only heterosexuals have a right to marry. Read more here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Analyst: Pence's Presidential Resume Is Thin

Indiana political analyst Lesley Weidenbener thinks Gov. Mike Pence's presidential resume is pretty thin. His accomplishments, says Weidenbener, are "either not making tremendous impact on Hoosiers or can’t wholly be attributed to his administration." For example, she considers Pence's claims to be a taxcutter from the national perspective and then from the Indiana perspective:

National perspective: Pence cut the inheritance tax, business property taxes, the corporate income tax and individual income taxes, while keeping the state’s budget in the black.

Indiana perspective: Pence’s tax cut proposals were largely scaled back or rejected outright by a Republican-dominated state legislature. Lawmakers were already cutting the inheritance tax. The Senate insisted on the corporate income tax cut, which Pence had not requested. The individual income tax cut, which is half of what Pence requested, has yet to take effect and will eventually slice the tax burden for the average household by only about $75. And no part of the business tax cut will occur unless local officials approve it. Plus, most of the financial hit for the state budget will come in future years.

Read Weidenbener's whole analysis here.

Judy O'Bannon Introduces Auditor Candidate Mike Claytor