Monday, February 17, 2014

MIke Delph, Twitter and the Founders

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 2:07 PM

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I had a chance to watch two political dramas spin out over the weekend: a few new episodes of House of Cards and Indiana Senator Mike Delph's (R-Carmel) Twitter filibuster.

The former is the Netflix-produced series starring Kevin Spacey as a completely amoral Congressman-turned-V.P. and Robin Wright as his steely wife. The latter was a series of Tweets that raged against the seemingly inevitable death of HJR 3 as a viable amendment to the Indiana Constitution.

Since House of Cards is a work of fiction, and since, as Hank Suever points out in his Washington Post review of Cards, "... the bumbling chaos and ego implosions of HBO's comedy "Veep" seem far more like the Washington I know," it's the Delph drama that frightens me most.

Delph firmly believes that LGBT Hoosiers have made "a lifestyle choice," that genetics have nothing at all to do with human sexual or gender orientation - any LGBT tendency is just a particular brand of lust. Ironically, Delph's admitted that his brother's gay. It's gut-wrenching to hear Delph's damnation of a "lifetsyle" "practiced" by someone as close to Mike as a sibling.

Delph's Tweets over the past four days, coupled with a Monday press conference, made his position remarkably clear: lobbying for a statewide vote on HJR 3 was just a "talking point ... Let the people decide." Delph's Tweets revealed that his position went a lot deeper than just a desire to "let the people decide." Delph's statements indicate a belief that any attempt to cleave the state from Scriptural teaching is a road to ruin ("Roman ruin", specifically). It seems the Hoosier Right firmly believed they could drum up enough support among voters in Indiana to codify their brand of theology. Because they don't see the LGBT population as a minority, because they don't believe some folks are just born that way like, say, lefties or green-eyed gingers, they don't believe a "minority" would be oppressed if HJR 3 passed.

The default position for Delph and a lot of Tea Party practitioners is a callback to the old "this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values" chestnut. Bemoaning the extension of marriage rights to gay citizens - or even unions recognized by businesses and not even the state - those who believe "gayness is a choice" are mortified by what they see as an America turning away from a religion upon which the country had been founded, an America defined by the words of the Founders when they drafted the U.S. Constitution.

And as for the Founding Fathers' religious intentions for the U.S.? Delph and his ilk couldn't be more wrong. An example is illustrated by Garrett Epps in his eloquent piece for The Atlantic penned back in 2011:

James Madison, the father of both the Constitution and the First Amendment, consistently warned against any attempt to blend endorsement of Christianity into the law of the new nation. "Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions," he wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in 1785, "may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?" Unlike the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution conspicuously omits any reference to God.

(Additionally, a great many of the founders were Deists, and judging by their behavior, Jefferson and Franklin certainly weren't fans of "traditional marriage.")

On one hand, Delph got what he wanted: attention. The explosion of Tweets hyping a press conference that chewed up 20 minutes, just for Delph to announce that he'd vote "no" on HJR 3 if the original language wasn't restored so the thing could make November's ballot, allowed the Senator the platform he wanted to tell us the manner in which we're all going to hell in a bucket. The Twitter blasts and the qualification of a reporter's question about whether or not Delph drank while Tweeting as "asinine" certainly played more like Veep than Cards.

In Cards, Spacey's Frank Underwood is so corrupt he'll stoop to murder to further his political aims. I'm certain some suspect that's how DC works. (Google "Vince Foster Conspiracy" for a peek into real craziness.) Mike Delph only stoops to Twitter, but his homophobia is very real and living in the Indiana statehouse for the world to see. Delph doesn't understand two things: 1.) the nature of sexual orientation, and 2.) the concept that the Constitution guarantees both freedom of and freedom from religion.

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Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck

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Ed Wenck has been writing for NUVO (as well as several other Indiana publications) for nearly 20 years while moonlighting as a radio host. He became Managing Editor of NUVO in 2013. He's authored four books and also reports for WISH-TV's Boomer TV program.

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