It is the one year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. June 26, 2015 was the day that the fundamental right to marry became guaranteed to same-sex couples in America. A year ago, I suggested that this date would someday appear on high school history exams. Hopefully this reminder will help.
Today in Indiana, the LGBT community is still not defined as a class for purposes of civil rights protections by the state. Many local units of government have passed ordinances, but the Indiana General Assembly remains paralyzed on the issue.
Arguably worse though, Indiana also is one of only five remaining states that does not have any law to serve as its policy for “bias” or “hate” crimes. During the past legislative session, Senator Sue Glick authored Senate Bill 220 to fix this obvious state shortcoming by establishing judicial sentence enhancements in certain circumstances. It easily passed the Senate, but died in committee in the House.
The recent Orlando hate crimes also lead me to ponder the current debates circling around topic areas of gun control, terrorism, and foreigners in general. Watching Congress squirm on these issues this past week has been generally embarrassing. It’s not that I believe decisions on these things are easy, it’s that the simple decision to act at all absolutely is.
2nd Amendment enthusiasts currently control Congress. This seems to be the same bunch who wants to call any random act of mass firearm violence an “act of terrorism,” as if that magically transforms the act into something unrelated to gun policy. And finally, if the murderer(s) can be categorized as someone who isn’t one of us, as in of a minority religion or from some other country, all the better.
That way, it’s not really our fault.
The perpetrator this time purposely wanted to be looked upon as a “radical Islamic terrorist.” I believe the reason he did was because it makes his acts scarier to many of us. In predictable fashion, many immediately blame the lack of brute force being used by President Obama in an attempt to eradicate ISIS as the reason this happened. Others simply blame his tolerance of undesirable people entering our otherwise idyllic portion of earth as the real reason we are unsafe.
Who knows really? Maybe it’s a little bit of all of that.
Whatever the reasons, in one horrible early June morning in Florida, American policy challenges involving LGBT rights and protections, guns, terrorism, foreign and immigration policies all collided under a single spotlight.
It is undeniable that many Americans think there are decisions to be made. We have decided it is time to decide.
Those of you who regularly read my column know that I have felt this way for quite some time. I think it is often very easy to identify those times when we, as a people, need to take action to address something which is no longer tolerable. As an extension, I also believe avoiding action simply because it represents change, or because of an illogical fear of the unknown, is as intolerable as the original problem.
There is too much to discuss here for me to cram into a column.
So I thought I would write it in a book.
On July 7, my first book, Contrary To Popular Belief, will be in bookstores. It can be preordered right now at IBJ Book Publishing (ibjbp.com). It is a chronicle of columns I have written over the past two years, but it is organized by topic, with each topic being explored a little more deeply than a column will allow.
Wouldn’t you know it: each topic in today’s column has its own chapter.
This weekly writing project has had an unexpected effect on me. To do it my best, it has forced me to read and learn far more than I had planned. We opinion writers already think we are the smartest people around, but the process of publishing every week has actually made me smarter, though arguably not yet smart. Reading has a funny way of doing that for a person.
So I am hopeful those who are interested in the kinds of things I write about each week would like to do even more reading this summer. It is a book designed to be read during this particularly chaotic time in American and Indiana politics.
I’m fairly certain there won’t be any other book like it. At least not this year. I think we should give all of this a little more thought. Because we have important decisions to make.