Pride Parades on Flat Earth

To someone from out of town, Indianapolis may have appeared to have two distinctly different personalities on Saturday.

WRTV, Indy’s ABC affiliate, reported that 120,000 people lined the streets of downtown for the Cadillac Barbie Indiana Pride Parade. Nearly 200 entries participated in it, featuring at least seventeen churches. The event’s purpose is to support, educate, honor and celebrate the diversity of the Indianapolis lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight communities. Think of how this event has changed since it began thirty years ago, and how exciting this must be for all of the friends and families who have been involved from the start. All of the new supporters, me among them, appreciate their legacy of hard work.

About a mile across town from the parade’s start at the corner of College and Massachusetts Avenues, the Indiana Republican Party was conducting its election year business. They needed to do some nominating of state office candidates. They also had to approve the party platform, which has a small remnant of throwback language in it that seems to have a self administered stranglehold on them.

The Indiana GOP party platform says this: “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society…”

Again, to someone from out of town, that might not seem immediately like a problematic phrase. But for those of us who live here, we know what those words really signify. They signify a line in the sand that has been drawn on a small piece of flat earth. Indiana Republicans drew that line in front of themselves, and seem to not notice the corner they backed into right before they did.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell said the language received overwhelming support at the 2014 state convention. “It passed with better than 80 percent of people that participated the last time around. So nothing has changed at all. I think it will be fine.”

Of all the comments that have been spoken during this campaign season, that is my nominee for “most obtuse.”

Nothing has changed at all? Since the summer of 2014? Well, I can think of a few things that have changed.

Let’s start with the sad episode in Indiana history that occurred during the 2015 legislative session that we will simply call RFRA. Oh, and that was followed by the marriage equality decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of last year, eliminating any fundamental purpose for the platform language. Then a small group named “Indiana Competes” was formed by more than 400 businesses and organizations to unsuccessfully support civil rights expansion in Indiana. And finally, on the very day of the state GOP convention, the Indiana Pride parade happened with more than 100,000 in attendance for the second year in a row.

Whew! That is an awful lot of “nothing.”

A Republican friend of mine who supports taking the “marriage between a man and a women” phrase out of the platform commented that “it feels like being the last holdouts of the flat earth society.”

Yes, I bet it does.

Indy Pride was on the east side of downtown breaking attendance records and asking for more at a parade on the hottest day of the year. At the same time, the GOP was on the west side noticeably shrinking its base by trying to run off loyal members who are hopeful the party will get with the times.

It’s worthy of a modern day version of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” Well it would be if there were any parallels between the two like in the original classic. The fact is that these two groups are moving in opposite directions. Politically, there is no good reason for that.

Republicans are losing people here with this act. Even if someone wants to debate that, it is virtually impossible for them to argue that this silliness is attracting new members. It isn’t.

Indiana has changed since 2014. And it continues to change. This change is not unique to us, but it is certainly undeniable here.

Our evolution as a people on this has been very encouraging. It has become quite fun to watch. And without holdouts like the Indiana GOP, it would be notably less fun. For that, I thank them.

They have given us ample supply of flat earth on which to parade. And the round earth is a secret I’m happy to keep from them a little while longer.