- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne. June 30, 2014.

Relying on the Beast

Even soccer has its defenders. They call them goalies. But no one ever has a good word for the federal government.

Gov. Mike Pence, the coyest of presidential noncandidates, used his appearance at the New York Republicans’ annual dinner Thursday to launch an all-out attack on conservatives’ bitterest foe: the government of their own nation.

“I’m more convinced than I’ve ever been in my life that the cure for what ails this country will come more from our nation’s state capitals than it ever will from our nation’s capital,” Pence told a roomful of wealthy donors at the Times Square event. He called on Washington’s GOP to restore “to the states those resources and responsibilities that are rightfully theirs, under the Constitution,” including education, welfare and transportation.

The long tradition of politicians running against Washington isn’t limited to Republicans. Ronald Reagan made a career of it; so did Jimmy Carter. Until, of course, they became president.

But we think Pence has it exactly right. He just doesn’t take the argument far enough.

If Pence is going to make his argument against the federal government truly convincing, he needs to launch a direct, unflinching attack on a Midwestern governor who happily receives billions and billions of dollars each year from the evil, scheming feds.

This spending-happy governor recently asked the feds for disaster relief money for some of his counties that had been devastated by storms. When the pointy-headed bureaucrats turned him down, he asked again.

This governor recently was observed in one of his northernmost cities wearing a ceremonial hard-hat and celebrating the opening of a new rail line that he said will help bring prosperity. “I say, let’s blow the horn, let’s get the Gateway open,” the governor said, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. Though he didn’t say it, this governor knew that the money for the new rail line was coming from the federal government’s 2009 stimulus act.

Pence, of course, would condemn anyone who celebrated the use of such vile, dirty money. Why, when he was in Congress, he led the fight against it.

But the governor we’re talking about is still riding on the coattails of his predecessor, who used stimulus money while building a state “surplus” that’s lauded again and again as the paragon of sound, fiscal policy.

Pence would never truck with such dangerous interactions with the Beast of the Beltway.

Except . except Pence is that governor. And without Indiana’s cherished surplus, without billions from Obamacare to underwrite HIP 2.0, without projects like the Indiana Gateway rail improvements, without Social Security, Medicare and other health benefits, without the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and other programs that help children and seniors receive enough to eat, without Pell Grants and other educational assistance plans Indiana would be . well, let’s just say nobody would want to support a governor for president who refused federal help for all those needed programs.

Besides, Pence should take a lesson from all those anti-government crusaders who eventually found their way into the White House. As has often been observed, things look a little different, somehow, when you actually have responsibility for running the country. Imagine, if it came to that, how people back here in Indiana would take to blaming President Pence for all of Indiana’s problems.


The Indianapolis Star. June 29, 2014.

Court ruling on same-sex marriage should stand

The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young on Wednesday striking down Indiana’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage will not end what has been a long, sometimes tortured debate. More court rulings will mix with continued divisions among Hoosiers that will play out in the coming weeks, months and perhaps years at the Statehouse and in cities and towns stretching from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River.

Nonetheless, Young’s ruling was thoughtful and wise, and most important it was based on the great American and Hoosier concept of fairness. The ruling should stand.

While there are concerned voices on the other side of this issue, the bottom line is that our state’s government should never be in the business of telling one group of law-abiding citizens that they don’t deserve the rights granted to others. Government, on the other hand, should be in the business of promoting strong families, and for too long political leaders have pushed legislation that, sadly, prevented thousands of decent, hard-working residents of Indiana from legally creating such families.

The many pictures that flooded social media Wednesday, taken in government buildings across the state, told the truest story of this ruling: Happy couples, desperate to bond their love in law and to stand united with their partners before their friends and family, joining together in the wonder of marriage. Some were young and some were old; some had waited months to marry and others had waited decades. Either way, they’d fought for the right to be happy, and they deserve that much, along with the crucial legal and financial protections that come with marriage.

Young’s ruling, which an appeals court stayed on Friday, focused not on debates about emotion or morality, however, but on the simple question of whether the state law is constitutional - as well as on what is right and fair under the law.

Ultimately, his ruling came down to a basic human notion: People have the right to be happy and to pursue joy in their lives. If you love someone and want to join together as consenting adults in marriage, the right to do so should not be determined by your sexual orientation.

Indiana will be better off if this ruling stands, for many reasons.

A more open state, for instance, helps our economy by boosting the ability to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest. It sends a message to the rest of the country that Indiana believes in fairness and acceptance. It makes clear to young Hoosiers that equality is possible here. If our politicians could move on, the ruling could be the beginning of the end of a long debate and the start of a period of healing.

This court ruling, along with several others and a shifting public mood, strongly suggests that prohibitions against same-sex marriage will be relics of history before long. And although that will not end a debate that has raged strong for decades, it would be a welcome moment if our political leaders were to rid the Statehouse of this distraction and help guide the rest of us to a more respectable conversation and a mutual focus on building a bright future for Indiana.

With that in mind, let’s respect the views of those on the other side of this issue, particularly those who feel torn between a respect for their fellow citizens and a faith-based belief in what is right and wrong. Disrespecting thoughtful neighbors who feel wronged by a changing society, and by this ruling, helps nobody. It also forgets the fact that many people who cheered Wednesday’s ruling struggled at some point, perhaps not long ago, with the concept of gay marriage.

That concept became a reality on Wednesday, and that is a good thing for Indiana. Still, some hurtful things were said. Some shrill and unhelpful voices, on both sides, could be heard.

It would be easy to focus on those voices, and on the bitterness that has so often marred this debate. But let’s do something different: Let’s remember that in the end there is much more that unites us as Hoosiers than divides us, and that we are a better state when we focus on that unity.


Evansville Courier & Press. June 29, 2014.

Same-sex marriage inevitable; Indiana should let issue go

Whatever the state of Indiana tries to do to stop same-sex marriages, it is inevitable that gay marriages will ultimately become legal in Indiana, as they should.

This is an issue headed squarely for the U.S. Supreme Court, which we expected will eventually declare it the law of the land, and not just in Indiana. The court is expected to declare that it is unconstitutional to forbid same-sex couples to wed.

In Indiana on Wednesday, Evansville-based U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young struck down the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriage. With Wednesday’s court decision, Indiana became the 20th state to adopt same-sex marriage. Indeed, Indiana became the ninth state to allow same-sex marriage based on a court decision.

Although Young’s decision sent numerous same-sex couples to courthouses for marriage license, the office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a notice of appeal with the federal appellate court in Chicago.

The AG’s office says it is premature to require Indiana to change it definition of marriage - only between a man and a woman - until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue.

Depending on time, Indiana officials may attempt as well to try again for a state constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages in Indiana. What a waste of time and reputation for Indiana that would be.

Earlier this year, pro-same sex advocates succeeded in persuading the Indiana Legislature not to approve a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. Lawmakers did approve a ban, but only after changing the language to take out a clause banning recognition of civil unions. That change in language pushed any vote on the proposed amendment back to 2016 or later. By then, we would expect that the U.S. Supreme Court will have ended this nonsense. Indeed, legal experts believe the issue would be moot by 2016.

Young held correctly that Indiana’s ban on gay marriage violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution

“These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitutional demands that we treat them as such. …”

Regardless, this is a decision that is, by all rights, should assure gay and lesbian citizens the right to be treated equally.

Indiana does not need a referendum on the rights of same-sex couples, only a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Tribune-Star, Terre Haute. June 28, 2014.

For kids, an immediate need

If you agree that not much is sadder - and potentially more unsettling to our society - than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.

You can advocate for a child who ends up in court because parents or guardians can’t keep their own lives together - whether because of broken relationships, crime, drug or alcohol obsession, domestic violence, poverty, physical or mental illness, or, likely, a combination of those factors.

You can understand how this child is scared, alone and adrift, as the mysteries of the legal system play out before young eyes. The child sees sanctions imposed on the adults to whom he or she has looked for at least some protection and assurance. Even in the worst family relationship, kids hang on to any remnant of support they can find.

Some of these children may themselves be the object of court action because of unacceptable behavior that has landed them in trouble. Imagine, for instance, a 9-year-old headed to institutionalization because of uncontrolled and continuing outbursts of anger, bullying and violent threats. It happens.

No matter their individual circumstance, such children need advocates, if their lives are to be redirected before they are lost to a cycle of abuse, poverty, crime and despair. It’s hard work, but such lives, we at least hope, can be repaired.

This is where many social and religious agencies step in, but most especially the Court Appointed Special Advocate program - CASA. …

Nationally, CASA units exist in 951 communities, serving 238,000 abused or neglected children. A juvenile court judge in Seattle started the idea in 1977, and, as the need has grown in the nearly 40 years since, so have the number of CASA units.

But as in so many critical areas of our society, the need far exceeds the response. In Vigo County, 123 good souls are advocating for 407 children, which is laudable. But the dark lining to that silver cloud is that about 130 children in Vigo County are now without advocates because there are not enough volunteers. …

It’s not an easy commitment. To become a CASA, one must take 30 hours of training and be willing to check in with the child at least once a month, which seems minimal to maintain any level of personal contact. And it means tough skin and a caring heart.

The family situations will not be pretty, but they can be softened for the child by showing concern, constancy, loyalty and even family affection.

This is not a call to bleeding-heart liberalism or idle social do-goodism. This is hard but rewarding work that requires a real, caring, person-to-person, there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-my-kid response, the kind of family-value reaction to threats we have all come to expect from our fellow Hoosiers and Illinoisans.

What it comes down to is one committed adult - you? - to match up with one vulnerable child to help give that child a better chance to succeed.

Or, as the national CASA says in its mission statement, “the opportunity to thrive.”



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