Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has become the target of conservative Republican groups propagating anti-tolerance rhetoric and politics this summer. They say the governor is undermining family values and Christian principles.
Concerned Women for America: "Indiana may soon begin hiring men in dresses in order to satisfy the governor's affirmative action plan."
On April 26, 2005, Gov. Mitch Daniels issued his administration's EEO Policy Statement barring state civilian employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.
The statement reads, in part, "sexual orientation and gender identity shall not be a consideration in decisions concerning hiring, development, advancement and termination of civilian employees." The Indiana National Guard is implicitly excluded from the policy.
It is the same policy Daniels put forth as part of his campaign last year that recommended an anti-discrimination policy exceeding Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines but is consistent with standard business practice for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the majority of state policies. In essence, Daniels has simply fufilled his campaign promise.
And while the hoopla over the policy has reached a crescendo in recent weeks, it is worth noting that Daniels' policy differs very little from the one established by Governor O'Bannon in 2001 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the state's workforce, covering almost 35,000 employees.
While there is no federal law that specifically outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector, 15 states have laws that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both private and public jobs: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia also prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in both the public and private sectors.
Seven states have laws prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in public workplaces only: Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In addition, while not clearly articulated in Oregon's state legislation, court cases in Oregon have found that sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited in public and private employment in Oregon.
Additionally, 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies have included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies, and a total of 211, or more than 40 percent, of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner health benefits for same-sex couples.
But Eric Miller, founder of Advance America and the Republican gubantorial candidate Daniels soundly defeated in the primary election, is leading the attack on the state policy with inflammatory and exaggerated claims that Daniels' actions provide "recognition and special rights for the homosexual lifestyle" and "paves way for quotas for homosexuals, transvestites" and encourages "activist courts to justify the recognition of same sex marriage."
Miller and Advance America have been the state's largest and most vocal advocates for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Indiana and against government policies prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals, and they have been credited with successfully lobbying the Indianapolis City Council to defeat a similar discrimination policy in April of this year.
Micah Clark, leader of the 12,000 members of the American Family Association of Indiana, a conservative, pro-family group, has called Governor Daniels "a disappointment in the family values department." He criticized Daniels for not being out front in favor of issues such as a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and for having the policy banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
And the outcry has now gone national.
Concerned Women for America, a conservative Republican organization whose self-proclaimed mission is "to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens - first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society - thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation," has joined Miller and Clark in encouraging members to contact Daniels and express their "outrage" over his decision to "to shame religious traditionalists, distort religious doctrine, redefine marriage, and to promote homosexuality as healthy and moral."
CWA also warned its members that "Indiana may soon begin hiring men in dresses in order to satisfy the governor's affirmative action plan."
But Governor Daniels doesn't appear to be backing down from his position or caving to extremist viewpoints or email deluges. As he recently told reporters, "I don't believe in discrimination, period. We had that (anti-discrimination) policy in our campaign. We left it in place. Basic rights of assembly, employment, housing and so forth ought not be limited based on a person's race, creed, color or lifestyle," he said.
The governor has consistently maintained a policy of inclusion in moving the state forward economically. "If we are going to become a state that is forward looking and ready to compete, willing to take risks and try new things, it will take leadership and that leadership should come from every sector of society," Daniels said.
"We are in this together. We will not succeed if any large portion of Indiana does not move forward. Leadership of the kind I'm looking at right now provides that essential role of reassurance, of explanation, of demonstrating it is about all of us working together."
"Let's think deeper. Let's be profound. Let's be as smart about this as we can be. There are minds to change ... and there are apprehensive people to reassure, uplift and reach out to."