Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bayh Talks Energy, Ads Talk Marriage Amendment

Bayh Talks Energy, Ads Talk Marriage Amendment
For Howey Political Report June 1, 2006

Sen. Evan Bayh winds up a two-day, eight-city tour across the state today to acquaint Hoosiers with particulars of an energy plan that his office said "outlines an economic roadmap for Indiana to become the capital of the new energy economy."

After serving as keynote speaker this morning at the Indianapolis Business Journal's Business Growth Strategies summit beginning at 8:30 a.m. (ET), the senator is slated to appear at a Jiffy Mini-Mart in Terre Haute two hours later, then visit the Evansville Transit Center at 11:15 (CT) before stopping by Hap's Aerial at the Jeffersonville airport early this afternoon.

Yesterday he visited Gary, South Bend, Fort Wayne and Lafayette.

Tom Coyne of the Associated Press wrote that during an appearance at the New Energy Corp. ethanol plant in South Bend, Bayh indicated "The United States needs to take a similar approach to solving its dependency on oil as it did in putting a man on the moon."

Bayh’s Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act aims to cut oil consumption some 10 million barrels per day over 25 years, in part by boosting production and consumption of alternative fuels, including ethanol, and offering incentives to produce and purchase electric drive and alternative motor vehicles. The bill would also raise vehicle fuel efficiency standards, order the federal and state governments to reduce fleet petroleum consumption by nearly a third and increase funding for research and development. (See HPR, April 27)

No more Mideast oil

Bayh has said in recent speeches that his bill would completely eliminate the need to import oil from the Middle East within 10 years. He also has insisted that the nation's energy challenge can be made into "a real opportunity" for American businesses and workers.

"We can create hundreds of thousands of good jobs in this country in the energy sector, including building high-mileage vehicles right here in Detroit, Michigan and across Indiana, if we just dedicate ourselves to doing exactly that," Bayh told Michigan democrats in April

VK Sharma, director of engineering for International Truck in Fort Wayne, told Victoria Edwards of the News-Sentinel yesterday that Bayh's legislation "will bring economic growth to Indiana, and provides the economic blueprint to build Indiana into the new energy economy."

Family matters

While Bayh has been out stumping for legislation that senators on both sides of the aisle say will help solve America's energy problem, Focus on Family Action has put together an advertising campaign in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment that asks "Why Doesn't Senator Bayh Believe Every Child Needs a Mother and a Father."

According to Focus on the Family Action Media Representative Christopher Norfleet, the ads ran yesterday in the Indianapolis Star, South Bend Tribune and Evansville Courier-Press. Radio ads also played on stations in those same cities as well as in Fort Wayne and Bloomington.

The half-page ad that appeared on Page A9 of yesterday's Star featured a freckle-faced boy cupping his hands to his cheeks and looking quizzically at the camera. "Every child understands how important a mom and a dad are," the ad copy reads. "But apparently Sen. Bayh needs a reminder."

For comment, HPR contacted a representative of Indiana Equality, a coalition of Hoosier organizations with the stated mission of "ensuring basic human rights for Indiana's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens."

'Divisive and unnecessary'

Indiana Equality Communications Chair Jerame Davis wrote in an email that "The divisive and unnecessary federal constitutional amendment- which failed overwhelmingly when last brought before Congress - would ban not only same-sex civil marriage, but also any 'legal incident of marriage' for unmarried couples - both straight and gay. This proposal, like the one that will be considered by the Indiana General Assembly in 2007, undercuts equal protection, threatening every government-enforced protection and every vestige of first-class citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Hoosiers."

John Clower, who chairs the organization, stated "Hoosiers, along with the rest of our country's citizens, face great challenges today - record high gas prices, an endless and costly war in Iraq, and skyrocketing health care costs that are bankrupting families and businesses

"Instead of addressing these real challenges, the Republican leadership in Congress and the Indiana General Assembly has chosen to put politics ahead of real progress by debating a divisive amendment on marriage," continued Clower. "The last thing Hoosiers want are legislators reaching into a family's private life."

Sen. Bayh told a group of Indiana bloggers last week that his opposition to the current federal amendment is based on constitutional grounds. He also voted against a previous Federal Marriage Amendment which failed to pass the Senate in July 2004.

Not a simple sound bite

It's difficult to reduce the senator's position to a headline or a simple sound bite. In response to an HPR query, the senator's office emailed the following statement:

"Senator Bayh does not support same-sex marriage. He thinks marriage should be between one man and one woman. That is currently the law in Indiana and the law nationally. He also believes that the Constitution should only be amended when absolutely necessary, not because of hypothetical situations that may or may not come to pass. If the Supreme Court ever strikes down the state or national laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, then he believes that a Constitutional amendment should be considered."

Despite the fact he does not support same sex marriage, Bayh is consistently rated high on GLBT issues by the Human Rights Campaign, which describes itself as "America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality." In ranking the Congress before the 2004 election, HRC scored Bayh at 75, compared with 88 for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or 17 for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN).

Earlier this year Bayh announced Congress had passed legislation on his first bill in the Senate, the Responsible Fatherhood Act, which will provide funding for state and private organizations to establish responsible fatherhood workshops. "As a father, Senator Bayh understands that strong families are crucial to our children’s future success," reads an item entitled "Fatherhood" on his website at, and the senator often weaves family into his discussions of today's most pressing issues when he takes to the stump.

"You know, enabling all our children to overcome the obstacles that have been placed in their way, to help them fulfill their God-given potential, that has to be our cause," he said earlier this month at the Indiana Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. "Our cause has got to be a little girl who came up to me in Valparaiso a few years back. It was at an early childhood development center. It was a step ahead program, all the programs in that community gathered together to help little girls like that. She had a frilly dress on and bright blue eyes and she threw her arms around me and looked into my face and she broke my heart. Because she looked up at me and said, 'Will you be my daddy?' She lost her father and her mother lived in an institution. You know, thinking of reaching out to girls like that and helping them make the most of what God may have to offer them, helping them carve out a future and have a tomorrow and let them know they’re not being left by themselves, but that we all care as much about them as we do our own. That must be our cause in these elections."


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