In a move that angered all the usual anti-gay crusaders, the Republican controlled Indiana Senate recently thwarted a push by conservatives to hold a statewide vote on marriage equality this year. The effort to enshrine bigotry into the Indiana State Constitution involves a three step process, the final step being a referendum to be voted on by the people. The Senate did ultimately pass one step of the process, bill HJR3, in a vote of 32-17 which does ban marriage equality in the state. However lawmakers removed the second sentence of the original proposed bill which would have banned recognition of any legal status for same-sex couples that is “identical or substantially similar” to marriage. The language of the sentence was seen as a step too far given the rapidly changing public opinion on marriage equality. Refusing to bow to pressure from their bigoted ranks to reinstate the sentence, the bill was passed without the crucial language, essentially kicking the ban can down the road until at least 2016 which is seen as the earliest an anti-marriage referendum could now be sent to the voters.
In the run-up to the final vote and after it passed with the second sentence removed, the hardcore hate groups were threatening retribution at the ballot box for Republican lawmakers who refused to be strong-armed into bowing to their will.
One of the most unhinged and critical voices came from within the Indiana Senate. Mike Delph, an unapologetic fundamentalist bigot representing the district of Carmel, was none too pleased. After his lobbying attempt to reinsert the language failed, Delph went on an 18-hour long Twitter meltdown, sending out more than 200 tweets haranguing his fellow Republicans senators and anyone else he deemed complicit in derailing a vote this year.
That was all to be expected. What happened yesterday was not. Senate President Pro-Tempore David Long along with other leaders in the party had a little closed-door tête-à-têtes with Delph and spanked him pretty soundly. As a reward for his over-the-top rhetoric, Delph was handed the following punishments:
• Delph will lose his leadership position as the Senate's Assistant Majority Floor Leader of Communications.Those were some hefty penalties imposed by his fellow Republicans. It wasn't all that long ago when a Republican was hailed a hero for hating on the gays as viciously as possible. The shifting sands on this issue couldn't be better illustrated by what took place in Indiana around bill HJR3. A Republican controlled legislature failing to fall in line with social conservatives and then publicly punishing one of its own for bad behavior is as refreshing as a summer rain.
• Delph will lose his title as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
• Delph will lose his press secretary.
• Delph will be re-assigned to a new seat in the Senate chamber, alongside Democrats and away from Republican leadership.
However, just to be reminded we are still dealing with spiteful Republicans here, they made the calculated decision to punish Democrats in the process. What a cruel twist to make these poor people have to sit alongside Mike Delph.