Evangelical Lobbyist Eric Miller: The Most Powerful Man in the Indiana Statehouse 

Throughout the month of February, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers settled into the pews of Protestant churches around the state for Sunday service.

Opening the bulletin that detailed the events of the worship service, many of these churchgoers found a red, white and blue flyer emblazoned with the American flag. The insert called for them to attend an upcoming “citizens’ rally in support of marriage” at the Indiana Statehouse in late March.

“Marriage should only be for one man and one woman!” the flyer proclaims. “Advance America is leading the effort to pass Senate Joint Resolution 7, an amendment to the Constitution, which would ban same sex marriages.”

As it frequently does, Advance America, the self-described largest Evangelical “pro-family, pro-church” political organization in the state, was sending out a legislative update to its members. Founded in 1980 by Indianapolis attorney Eric Miller, Advance America boasts a political network that includes thousands of members drawn from nearly 4,000 Indiana churches.

This isn’t the first time Advance America has rallied Evangelicals at the Statehouse to express their opposition of same-sex marriage. Two years ago, the group organized a similar anti-gay rally and the bus transportation for those coming from churches and Christian schools from around the state, when SJR 7 last came up for a vote in the Indiana Legislature.

“God says marriage is one man and one woman,” said attendee Martha Robinson as she stood under the Advance America banner draped across the rotunda prior to the start of the rally. “And we need to obey that if we don’t want to destroy ourselves. God made us. We need to listen to Him. He knows what’s best for us.”

Robinson’s sentiments were echoed by other Evangelicals in attendance, as well as by lawmakers who spoke and assured the crowd, as then-Speaker of the House Brian Bosma did, that “there are few legislative functions more important than preserving traditional families.”

Republicans from both the House and Senate took turns at the microphone, including Sen. John Waxman, who addressed the assembled crowd, many of whom had come in response to a pamphlet he’d mailed to his constituents a few months earlier warning of the evils of homosexuality and imploring citizens to vote to save the innocence of children by voting for him.

“In 1998, the Democratic administration opened the door to gay adoptions. This action started the implementation of a larger homosexual agenda,” Waxman warned. “The next step is the legal recognition of a homosexual union. The ultimate goal involves the enlistment of our children.

“Because they can’t reproduce, homosexuals have to recruit! We must continue to fight back in order to preserve our children’s innocence!”

“The institution of marriage was not created and cannot be defined by government,” Republican House Rep. Woody Burton said, drawing cheers. “Only God can create marriage!”

Welcoming the large crowd who had assembled at his request, Advance America’s Eric Miller took to the podium at the “Save Marriage!” rally promising to be the eyes and ears of Evangelicals in state government.

“This is your Statehouse,” he told the enthusiastic crowd, minutes before they burst into “God Bless America,” “and I am here to make sure your family, your church and your faith are protected.”

Beneath a fiery cross

The relationship between religion and politics is a controversial one in Indiana this legislative session. Hoosiers, in large numbers and regardless of political party, are dissatisfied with the way in which our elected officials treat religion in the crafting of public policy, a viewpoint that matches national trends.

According to a 2006 Pew Research poll, while more than 75 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian, nearly 50 percent of Americans believe that conservatives have gone too far in imposing their religious values on American public policy.

At the same time, nearly 70 percent of Americans believe liberals have gone too far in keeping religion out of schools and government.

These opinions don’t fall along religious or party lines, however. According to the same survey, Christians split their votes nearly 60/40 between the Republican and Democratic parties during the last election; only slightly more pronounced than the nearly 50/50 split of Americans overall between the two parties.

Of all American voters, the easiest to characterize are Evangelicals, who make up nearly a quarter of the American population and form a distinct group whose members share core religious beliefs as well as crystallized and consistently conservative political attitudes.

Not only are they overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly Republican, they are also steadfast in their belief that Christian values should be the single most authoritative source in the governing of America. An opinion the majority of Americans do not share.

This fundamental belief that the Bible should be used as a governing authority superior to the will of the people, even if the Bible contradicts the will of the people, gives rise to nearly every contentious political debate in the country, quite often between Evangelicals and the rest of the country.

And because they make up 25 percent of the total voting population, and nearly 50 percent of all voting Republicans, their political clout is substantial. For Republican candidates, it is nearly impossible to win without Evangelical support.

The political rhetoric and literal mission of lobbyists like Eric Miller and Advance America is a blend of patriotism and religion meant to shape government by giving a voice to the variety of fears and frustrations that resonate with Evangelicals — particularly their frustration over a declining morality and sinners who openly flaunt their disobedience to biblical principles; fear of the wave of immigrants who are threatening the economic and social order of things in their communities; and a post Sept. 11 fatigue that gives rise to a suspicion of all things foreign — including ideas, beliefs and lifestyles they consider alien.

Miller believes that Indiana politicians are wise enough to campaign on the same issues Advance America promotes. Speaking recently of last fall’s election, he boasted of Advance America’s success in shaping an election outcome that matched the political agenda of his Evangelical constituents. “I think you didn’t really see any candidate running in Indiana at the state or federal level that said they were pro-abortion, in support of homosexual marriage and that they wanted to tax churches.”

In Indiana, as they do nationally, Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly cast their votes for Republican candidates who promise to protect their faith, their families and their freedom from what they see as an ever-more-secular society. Miller’s lobbying success comes in positioning Advance America as the watchdog for these Evangelical religious and political interests in the Statehouse.

“My whole desire is to bring honor and glory to my savior Jesus Christ,” Miller said recently. “With that goes my desire to help fellow Hoosiers in the state.”

Having lost his Republican bid for Indiana governor in the 2004 primary election to Mitch Daniels, Miller holds no political office and has never been ordained as a minister. And yet, according to the Advance America Web site, “For over 20 years, Advance America, with Eric Miller at the helm, has led the battle for Hoosier families at the Indiana Statehouse. Families, churches and business have benefited from Eric’s leadership in state government.”

Whether or not the lobbying efforts of Evangelicals like Eric Miller have helped or hurt Hoosiers is a matter of opinion, one that is increasingly being debated. Another debate concerning the social and political agendas of Evangelicals are the fundamental similarities between this group of Christian soldiers and the most infamous army of religious patriots in Indiana history.

Traditional Hoosier values

It is a part of our cultural history that we don’t like to discuss much, nor do we much like to acknowledge any ancestral resemblance. To point out similarities in contemporary religious expression or belief borders on blasphemy, and analogies to contemporary events are nearly always dismissed as hyperbole.

But the truth is that during its 1920s heyday, the Ku Klux Klan numbered over 5 million members nationwide, by some estimates more than 10 million — all of them white, Protestant, fiercely religious and fiercely patriotic.

Unlike its earlier incarnation in the post-Civil War era, however, this time the KKK was not primarily a rural and Southern phenomenon, and its popularity was evident in cities across America, none more so than Indianapolis.

While racial superiority remained a fundamental tenet for the 20th century KKK, stated plainly in the 1925 Klansman’s Manual as “the God-given supremacy of the white race,” history routinely forgets to mention that the ideals of the group surpassed racism.

When the KKK was at the height of its popularity in Indiana, Communists, Catholics and Jews were just as inferior and immoral to its members as homosexuals, bootleggers, the “modern” woman and, of course, Negroes.

Some branches of the Klan notoriously resorted to violence during this period, particularly in violent crimes against black communities and individuals. But an equally dangerous aspect of the Klan’s power in Indiana came from a blend of religious and patriotic duty that fueled local politics.

Founded in 1920, the Indiana chapter of the KKK quickly became the largest and most powerful branch of the Klan in the country. By 1924, more than 40 percent of white males in Indianapolis claimed membership, as did one in every three white men in the state, and the Klan accurately and proudly boasted control of the mayor and governor’s offices, the Indiana General Assembly and the Indianapolis City Council almost exclusively in the form of the Republican candidates they backed.

During the 1920s, the mainstream embrace of the Ku Klux Klan was also demonstrated in churches throughout the state, as Protestant clergy were often the most ardent Klan supporters in each community.

In Indianapolis, the Rev. William Forney Harris of the Grand Avenue Methodist Church was not atypical when he encouraged Klan membership among his congregation in 1922, preaching that these were times of “moral decay,” and as such, “any organization that stands for decency and order ought not to be shunned.”

“Kinship of race, belief, spirit, character and purpose” were the basis for membership in the KKK, and the role model for Klansmen was “their Criterion of Character Jesus Christ.” Additionally, the 1925 manual commands, “Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism.”

Like Evangelicals today, members of the KKK in the 1920s believed patriotism and religion to be the most fundamental principles for personal and political duty.

“The true Klansman is pledged to absolute devotion to American principles. Before the sacred altar of the Klan, face to face with the Stars and Stripes, and beneath the holy light of the Fiery Cross, he pledges himself in these words: ‘I swear that I will most zealously and valiantly shield and preserve, by any and all justifiable means and methods, God-given freedoms and sacred Constitutional values.’”

Protecting sacred rights and values

The symbolism of the American flag and the Christian cross that dominated the iconography and rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s are no less relevant to those seeking a reformation of social and political values today.

In a very literal sense, Evangelicals are using both church and government in their efforts to uphold what was their grandfather’s oath to zealously and valiantly shield and preserve the sacred constitutional rights and privileges they believe to be under attack.

Church bulletins and a monthly newsletter are only part of Advance America’s lobbying functions.

The organization routinely informs families and churches about what is occurring in state government and activity in the General Assembly by way of a 24-hour toll-free hotline, faxes, mailings, speaking engagements, voting record summaries on the Indiana General Assembly and a variety of other communication methods, including an e-mail alert system.

Miller promises that Advance America’s staff reads and reviews every piece of legislation filed in the Indiana General Assembly, more than 1,500 in some years. They evaluate each bill, offer testimony before legislative committees, talk directly with legislators, draft amendments and bills, sound the alarm when individuals need to call their legislators.

There is no issue seemingly more important to Evangelicals than stopping same-sex marriage and “the homosexual agenda.”

“Radical feminists, abortion zealots, liberal politicians, and haters of the Judeo-Christian ethic have in their own ways ushered in a new era devoid of religion, gender distinctions and traditional family relationships,” Dr. James Dobson states in the Public Policy Statement of Focus on the Family, the largest and most powerful Evangelical lobbying organization in the United States.

“Together,” he continues, “they have brought the institution of marriage to its knees. I have been most concerned about the anti-family agenda being pushed forward by radical homosexual activists.”

At every hearing for SJR 7, Eric Miller is always present to advocate on behalf of Evangelicals seeking a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“Traditional marriage is the foundation of every society,” Miller said recently to a room full of Indiana senators considering the amendment. “Banning same-sex marriages and civil unions will prove to be the greatest moral battle of this generation.”

At that same hearing, Sen. Brandt Hershman, the author of SJR 7, explained his rationale for the amendment: “This is the way it’s always been in Indiana, in America, in the world, in the history of civilization.”

Like nearly ever other state in America, Indiana has had a law stipulating that the only legal marriages in Indiana are those between one man and one woman since the Federal Defense of Marriage Act of the 1990s. However, Evangelicals in Indiana do not believe that law is sufficient enough to prevent future same-sex marriages in the state.

“Efforts to legitimize same-sex marriage hurt the traditional institution of marriage and open the door to legal challenges in favor of polygamy and other outlandish behaviors,” according to Sen. John Waxman.

“To address this attack on traditional marriage, Senate Joint Resolution 7 was introduced by Sen. Brandt Hershman to amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and prevent recognition of same-sex couples. I co-authored this measure and helped usher it through the Senate.”

Known by its supporters as the “definition of marriage” amendment, SJR 7 will amend the Indiana Constitution by adding, “Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman.” It also provides “that the legal incidents [rights] of marriage cannot be construed or conferred upon unmarried couples.”

In order for the amendment to be ratified, it must pass two separately elected legislative bodies. It passed both the House and Senate in 2004. Having passed the Senate again last month, if it passes the House before the session ends in April, it will be put on the 2008 ballot as a question to voters.

Pure examples of patriotism

In addition to Advance America’s efforts on behalf of SJR 7 this legislative session, there was another bill working its way through the House of Representatives that Miller believed attacked traditional values and had him using the full force of the state’s Evangelical political machine in opposition.

When the legislation passed out of a House committee late February by a vote of 9-1, thanks in large part to the supportive testimony of Marion County Republican Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, Miller’s Advance America went into overdrive.

“Should homosexuals and cross-dressers get special protection?” Miller asked in an e-mail action alert to thousands of churches and families concerning House Bill 1459, the “hate crimes” legislation.

“This bill establishes a very dangerous precedent because it would create two classes of victims,” he warned. “[It] represents an attempt to give special protection to homosexuals and cross-dressers by stating that a crime against them is to be treated with more severity than a crime against a senior citizen, a child or a pregnant mother.

“It is wrong for the government to mandate special rights for the homosexual lifestyle — a lifestyle that many consider immoral,” Miller contends.

Though Miller is a lawyer, he seems to have misunderstood HB 1459 at best and misrepresented it to his constituents at worst. The truth is that the legislation is in no way a legal precedent. Over the past 10 years, all but five of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia have passed hate crimes legislation similar to the one being debated this year in the Indiana Legislature.

Additionally, Miller failed to inform the recipients of his e-mail that Indiana law already has multiple classes of victims — including more severe punishments for those who commit crimes against children, the elderly, the mentally handicapped and law enforcement officers.

Another inflammatory aspect of Miller’s call to arms against HB 1459 was the deliberate omission of the true scope of the legislation. His e-mail did not mention that the bill was written by one of the most venerated African-American members of the Indiana House of Representatives, nor did he mention that the legislation defines a hate crime as one committed against someone on the basis of their skin color, race, religion, national origin, creed, disability, sex AND sexual orientation and gender identity.

He did, however, warn of the potential, and entirely fictitious, possibility of a threat the hate crimes bill poses to Evangelicals.

“This bill represents a step in the wrong direction with regard to free speech,” he warned. “Will the next step be to prohibit speech that someone views as hateful? For example, will legislation be introduced to prohibit pastors from speaking out against the homosexual lifestyle from the pulpit? Call or e-mail your representative and ask them to vote no on House Bill 1459.”

Miller’s pleas were heard. The Statehouse was reportedly flooded with calls and e-mails from concerned Evangelicals who had received Miller’s message and registered their opposition to the hate crimes bill.

Republican state Rep. Jackie Walorksi credited the hundreds of e-mails, phone calls and letters she’d received from Evangelical Hoosiers concerned that the bill would restrict religious free speech with her decision to oppose the legislation.

At the end of the week, she pushed through an amendment to the bill that included language that would make a crime against an unborn fetus a hate crime. Once Walorski’s amendment was added, the measure failed to garner enough support from the remaining House members for passage.

Naked women and dead men

Perhaps it is more irony than hypocrisy when those who set themselves apart from the majority in an elevated sense of moral righteousness fall from grace with a loud thud due to what they’d be the first to term as sin in others.

According to the Klansman Manual, major offenses for a 1920s Klansman were, among other things, treason against the United States, disrespect of virtuous womanhood, drunkenness, profanity and unworthy racial conduct (“being responsible for the polluting of Caucasian blood through miscegenation”).

D.C. Stephenson came to Indiana at the age of 31 in 1920, by way of Texas and Oklahoma, and settled in Evansville. After a failed run for Congress as a Democrat, Stephenson changed his party and threw his ever-increasing political clout behind Republicans. He joined the Ku Klux Klan at the same time.

In 1922, Stephenson was made grand dragon of Indiana and 22 other northern states. Under his leadership, membership in the states for which he was grand dragon grew dramatically — as did his bank account and his political power.

With the KKK firmly in his grasp, Stephenson turned his attention to politics. Klan members voted for other members and friends, and because the platforms of the Republican Party and the Ku Klux Klan were nearly identical, by and large the Klan won its power in Indiana politics through Republican candidates. When Republican and Klansman Ed Jackson won the 1924 governor’s race, D.C. Stephenson was undeniably the most powerful non-elected person in state government.

Klan memberships sold for $10, and Stephenson kept $4 per membership for his “expenses” in Indianapolis. By some estimates, he made more than $2 million in less than two years. His eight–room office on the third floor of the new downtown Kresge Building was elaborate, dramatic and near the Statehouse. Stephenson took full advantage of the proximity to grant and seek political favors from his fellow Klansmen now in political office.

When asked once by a reporter if some of his activities might be illegal, Stephenson laughed and reportedly answered, “Son, I am the law in this state.” That wasn’t true for Stephenson in the end.

In March of 1925, he was arrested for the abduction, rape, confinement and eventual murder of Madge Oberholtzer, a 28-year-old Indianapolis woman who died as a result of the violent bites Stephenson inflicted across her breasts, among other injuries.

In the early weeks of his arrest, Stephenson boasted that his political friends would see to his release. When that didn’t happen, he revealed the detailed records he’d kept during his brief, but stellar, reign in Indiana politics.

As a result of Stephenson’s damning evidence and three Marion County Grand Jury investigations, Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall and six members of the Indianapolis City Council were indicted on a variety of corruption, bribery and conspiracy charges, as were Gov. Ed Jackson, the former Republican state chairman and several judges — all of whom self-avowed Christians, all of whom were members of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan and all of whom were Republican.

As Stephenson himself later said of his meteoric rise and fall, “Everything is fine in politics as long as you don’t get caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman.”

Judge not, lest ye be judged

The author of the “defense of marriage” amendment, SJR 7, Republican Sen. Brandt Hershman, is perhaps Eric Miller’s biggest ally in state government. Hershman is always present at Advance America Statehouse rallies, and he can also be found in interviews with Eric Miller on the Advance America Web site touting Evangelical political successes.

Hershman is also one of the staunchest anti-abortion politicians in the state. Each year, Sen. Hershman introduces a number of his own bills that seek to make abortion unavailable until they are illegal; bills Advance America never fails to encourage its members to support.

Hershman was a lot less conservative in his views towards abortion on May 30, 1997, when he reportedly drove his first wife, Tracy Hershman, to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Merrillville, Ind., and, she claims, paid for her to abort their child. Though the couple had been married for nearly eight years, Hershman asked his wife for a divorce a week later. He has since remarried.

When asked about the abortion during his campaign in 2000, Hershman told reporters, “I will not discuss my ex-wife or my personal relationships with anyone.”

Though Eric Miller is also divorced, many in and around the Statehouse predict his fall from grace will be as a result of financial disclosure, and not sexual indiscretion, Miller himself included.

Now that the 2007 General Assembly is in session, Miller is in full lobbying mode on behalf of his Evangelical constituents. And, as he explains to his supporters, lobbying costs money.

“Contributions are needed and appreciated!” reads the bottom of a Feb. 21, 2007, Advance America newsletter in bold typeface.

“In order to continue to serve as the eyes, ears and voice for the families and churches of Indiana, Advance America depends on the tax deductible contributions of individuals, families and businesses around the state…Your contribution will help us pay our expenses during the time the 2007 General Assembly is in session, which could exceed $295,000,” reads the entire plea.

Because Advance America is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status, Eric Miller is not technically a lobbyist, but a “grass-roots” organizer. Therefore, he is not required by state law to disclose how he spends the entire $295,000 in contributions from Advance America supporters.

He does disclose some lobbying expenses each year, however, and if this year is on par with recent disclosures, Miller will claim he spent between $20,000 and $30,000 in lobbying expenditures, or about 10 percent of the total contributions Advance America receives.

Miller is both a practicing attorney and the head of Advance America. Advance America and Miller’s law firm share downtown office space and, in several cases, staff. He draws a salary and benefits from Advance America that exceed $100k, and his law firm receives an annual retainer from Advance America that exceeds $100k. Additionally, Miller is paid a separate salary from his law firm.

Perhaps coincidentally, Eric Miller is also waging a battle against House Bill 1551 this legislative session.

In an Advance America e-mail alert, Miller recently warned that legislators “should not be passing bills that interfere with the right of a pastor and church to speak out on biblical issues” by requiring organizations that spend more than $500 a year informing the public about a legislative issue or calling for public action on a legislative issue to claim those expenditures as lobbying costs and register with the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission.

Under current law, a “grass-roots” advocacy campaign does not have to register as a political action committee engaged in lobbying. But the authors of the new legislation believe large political organizations like Advance America, with tens of thousands of members and hundreds of thousands in contributions, are abusing both their non-profit and grass-roots status.

If Advance America becomes subject to more stringent lobbying regulations, not only would Miller have to divulge how much he is spending to be the eyes and ears of Evangelicals in Indiana, but what individuals and organizations in Indiana politics are on the receiving end of those expenditures.

Onward Christian soldiers

“The American home is fundamental to all that is best in life,” declares the Klansman Manual of 1925. “In society, in church and in the nation. It is the most sacred of human institutions. Its sanctity is to be preserved, its interests are to be safeguarded, and its well-being is to be promoted. Every influence that seeks to disrupt the home must itself be destroyed.”

Like the KKK, the foundation of “home” for Evangelicals today is what they consider the traditional and God-ordained marriage between one man and one woman. This belief is exemplified by the mission statement of the Indiana Family Institute, the local chapter of Dr. Dobson’s Focus on the Family, “dedicated to the preservation of home.”

“We believe firmly that the family is the key institution of society, and overall health of any city, state, region or nation is largely determined by the health of this bedrock institution,” states the Indiana Family Institute. “Our objective is two-fold: preserve pro-family policy already within State Government and push for additional policies that will strengthen Indiana families.”

Following last year’s election, Indiana Family Institute’s parent organization, Focus on the Family, sent out a letter of thanks to the millions of Evangelical voters in the country, giving credit for conservative political victories to organizations like Advance America and their lobbying efforts.

“These independent, state-based organizations have become powerful forces for the values and moral principles that matter most,” Dr. Dobson writes. “[They] were especially effective in the battle to protect traditional marriage. They were instrumental in nearly all 13 states that passed constitutional amendments defending marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.”

For elected officials at all levels of Indiana politics, Evangelicals are a political force to be reckoned with, none more so than Advance America. Testimonials as to Miller’s political clout are posted on the organization’s Web site, and the video clips include personal endorsements by some of the state’s most powerful Republican leaders.

“Eric Miller has led an organization — an army of volunteers — on the ground out there who are very important when it comes to promoting the values and virtues that are shared by many Hoosiers,” according to Congressman Steve Buyer.

“I’ve worked with Eric Miller for over 18 years,” a smiling Sen. Richard Lugar says. “And I’ve witnessed the growth of Advance America as a powerful voice for families, churches and businesses in Indiana.”

“Eric and I go back a long, long way, to when I was at the Indiana General Assembly, I think I started there in 1908,” Congressman Dan Burton jokes. “No, it was a little bit later than that. Nevertheless, Eric was there with me, doing a remarkable job, and he’s been a remarkable leader ever since.”

“I know that Eric Miller and Advance America can make a big difference when he takes on an issue and in one day can light up our [switch]boards here at the Statehouse with thousands of calls that can make a difference,” House Rep. David Frizzell says.

Prior to the 2006 elections, Miller was a frequent speaker on the campaign trail, motivating voters throughout the state, speaking at a community center in Greenwood with Republican legislators Woody Burton, Patricia Miller and David Frizzell; at the Fair Haven Baptist Church in Portage with Secretary of State Todd Rokita; and the Goshen Senior Center with legislators Jackie Walorksi and Marvin Riegsecker, among others.

And in the next few weeks, Miller expects these senators and representatives to repay him for his support with votes in favor of SJR 7.

A call to arms

Having passed the Senate last month by an overwhelming majority, only 10 Democrats voted against the amendment, SJR 7 is now awaiting action in the House of Representatives.

Four years ago, when Democrats last controlled the House, Speaker Pat Bauer let SJR 7 die in committee. This led to a walkout by House Republicans, a political stunt with repercussions for both parties. Few expect Bauer to repeat the tactic this session.

If the amendment passes out of committee and receives a full House vote before the Legislature adjourns, as it is expected to do, voters will see it on the ballot in 2008.
Opponents of SJR 7, however, are holding out hope for one last bit of political maneuvering that will postpone its passage.

If a House member introduces an amendment to SJR 7, and that amendment passes, SJR 7 must begin its ratification process all over again, as the amended version must be voted on by two separately elected legislative bodies before it appears on the ballot.

And that’s exactly why Eric Miller is sending out e-mail action alerts, producing monthly newsletters and placing Advance America flyers in the Sunday bulletins of thousands of Indiana churches this month, asking the tens of thousands of Evangelicals he represents to attend a Statehouse rally later this month “in support of marriage.”

“Please call or email your Representative and urge them to support SJR 7!” each communication urges.

And if history is any predictor of future events, Evangelicals will respond to his call to arms.

“God didn’t make [homosexuals] that way. It’s a choice, and we don’t have to accept that choice,” believes Levi Figley, who attended the last Advance America rally at the Statehouse to protect marriage. “I’m married to a woman, and she’s married to me. And that’s the way God wants it.”

That’s the way Eric Miller wants it as well. And given the power he wields at the Indiana Statehouse, and the Indiana religious and political traditions that power is rooted in, SJR 7 will pass and his prayers will be answered.


Most important issues of the election

All voters

53% War in Iraq
37% Economy
27% Values issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.)
23% Corruption/scandals
21% Terrorism

Evangelicals

49% Values issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.)
47% War in Iraq
32% Economy
29% Terrorism
23% Illegal immigration


Survey says…

Indiana voters have been split in nearly every poll over the past few years when it comes to same-sex marriage. While the majority does not favor same-sex marriage, the majority equally opposes a constitutional amendment to ban them.

On other issues, however, Indiana residents have been found to overwhelmingly support basic human rights and equality for gay and lesbian Hoosiers in employment, housing and public accommodations, often by very significant margins, according to a 2006 poll conducted by the Indiana University Center for Survey Research.

The survey found respondents overwhelmingly agree (79 percent) that gay and lesbian Hoosiers should have the same civil rights protections as others. Clear majorities support such protections in urban, suburban, small town and rural areas, and across all age, educational attainment and racial groups.

Respondents also overwhelmingly favor hate crimes legislation (77 percent). Moreover, of those who favor hate crimes legislation, the vast majority (85 percent) believes that crimes based on sexual orientation should be included.

Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of the respondents indicated that they support hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples. Slightly over half (53 percent) support inheritance rights.

Indiana Equality commissioned the Indiana University Center for Survey Research to survey the attitudes of Indiana citizens on issues facing lesbian and gay Hoosiers. For more information and to see the complete poll results, go to www.indianaequality.org.

 

 

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