While prominent LGBT activists fight about their lack of inclusion in Jo Becker’s book ‘Forcing The Spring’ Here in Indiana we are all anxiously awaiting a ruling from the 7th circuit court of appeals in favor of resuming same sex marriages again, however one glance at the landscape and one can’t help but notice thousands of other inequalities all around us.
Staring Indiana LGBT leadership in the face is the state’s lack of hate crime protections for lgbt people. 45 other states have passed such laws but Indiana seems hell bent on becoming last despite accelerated momentum towards equality. Hate crime protections was last defeated in Indiana in 2007 under the leadership of anti-gay activist Eric Miller of Advance America.
Other very real issues that lgbt hoosiers are grappling with that need confronted? Abusive gay cure therapy, LGBTQ homeless youth, bullying and suicide prevention and the Indiana school to prison pipeline that unfairly targets and jails young queer people. The Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog notes approximately 14,657 homeless youth in the 2011-2012 school year. We know that upwards of 40% of homeless youth identify as lgbtq. 58% of that 40% have been sexually victimized. Indiana currently has zero 24 hour shelters that specifically deals with any lgbtq population.
Tough HIV laws, trans prison populations, lgbt inclusive sex education, HIV, smoking, criminalized prostitution, poverty and hunger are just some of the very real issues beyond marriage facing the community that beg attention.
So the other day I wandered over to the facebook page of ‘Indiana Equality Action’ to see what the topic was. Much to my surprise it wasn’t none of the aforementioned issues facing Indiana LGBT folk. The topic was Laverne Cox and Orange Is The New Black. While Cox’s emmy nomination is a cultural win and should be celebrated; back home in reality people can still target and murder us without facing hate crime charges. When I left a message asking for information on Indiana Equality’s leadership on hate crime protections I was censored and blocked. A tired, old tactic often used by Indiana Equality but with the current uphill battle facing Indiana LGBT can we really afford to silence our critics? Indiana Equality hasn’t even updated their blog since December 2013, but I bet they are still accepting donations aren’t they?
I am reminded of and long for civil rights organizers like Mary Harris Jones, aka Mother Jones. Mary Harris Jones was an American labor and community organizer and change agent that didn’t give 2 flips about winning awards. In fact in 1902 she was called “the most dangerous woman in America.” for her success in organizing mine workers and their families against the mine owners. In 1903 upset about the lax enforcement of the child labor laws in the Pennsylvania mines and silk mills she organized a children’s march from Philadelphia to the hometown of then President Theodore Roosevelt in New York displaying banners “We want to go to school and not the mines!” Her motto was “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living”. Mother Jones often jailed for her antics was denounced on the floor of the U.S. senate as “the mother of all agitators” Jones replied “I hope to live long enough to be the grandmother of all agitators”
Same sex marriage is a fundamental right that sends a strong message to society that our lives, loves and families matter. However marriage activists stuck on self congratulations for the actions of courts could consider the bigger picture and expand their vision. Indiana needs a task force willing to confront and solve these problems head on because even with full federal equality, many of these problems aren’t going away anytime soon. And surely we could all learn a thing or two from Mother Jones.