Politically Speaking, Indianapolis Edition: Religious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights in Indiana
Friday, June 3, 2016 | 9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
In February 2016, the Indiana state senate gave up on an attempt to pass compromise legislation expanding protections for LGBT persons in state law. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Travis Holdman, said that there simply was not enough support for it to pass. Sen. David Long, leader of the majority Republicans, indicated that efforts to find a balance between the civil rights for the LGBT community and religious liberty had satisfied no one. “We took a beating from all sides in trying to do this,” Long said. “This effort was unfortunately hampered by well-organized extreme messaging from groups representing both sides of this discussion — many of whom are from out of state. Neither of those sides were truly seeking a solution” (South Bend Tribune, Feb. 2, 2016). Indiana Republican lawmakers, who hold a super majority in both chambers, abandoned efforts to strengthen protections for lesbian, gay and bi-sexual people on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, opting not to vote on a measure designed to restore the state’s reputation following a national boycott over a religious objections law in 2015.

Modeled on the live television weekly TV program Dr. Bennion moderates on WNIT-TV (South Bend), this session will highlight diverse perspectives on the issue of LGBT rights and religious freedom in Indiana. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of the debate, the host city, and ways to moderate difficult dialogues on controversial political issues. Attendees are also invited to attend a follow-up workshop with Dr. Bennion where she will discuss her students’ involvement in the weekly TV program. Students earn college credit and gain valuable knowledge and skills while serving as researchers, call screeners, episode reviewers, amateur videographers, and more.  Reaching a 22-county, two-state area with 1.2 million viewers, the program offers a valuable opportunity for students to become part of a dynamic civic education team. Learn how you can adapt this model to capitalize on a variety of traditional and new media opportunities to engage a broader audience in your civic education efforts.


BennionElizabeth Bennion is a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University South Bend. Her teaching and research focus on U.S. political behavior and effective approaches to fostering civic and political engagement. Elizabeth is co-editor of the book Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen, and has published her civic engagement scholarship in numerous other books and academic journals. Elizabeth directs IU South Bend’s American Democracy Project and moderates candidate debates and forums for offices ranging from city council and mayor to U.S. House and Senate. She is also host of WNIT’s live weekly TV program Politically Speaking which brings her students into contact with local, state, and national elected officials and community activists from a two-state, 22-county region. Elizabeth earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and lives with her husband and four children in South Bend, IN. For more about Elizabeth.


HenegarJane Henegar joined the ACLU of Indiana as executive director in September of 2012. Prior to her service at the ACLU she was a deputy mayor of Indianapolis from 2000 to 2006. Henegar has held various positions in government, including state director in the office of Senator Evan Bayh, deputy commissioner and general counsel in the Indiana Department of Administration, executive posts at the Family and Social Services Administration and judicial law clerk for the Hon. Thomas Reavley, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Henegar has taught political science and led the Indiana Bar Foundation’s Project Citizen to teach civics to K-12 students in Indiana. Born and raised in Bloomington, she is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington.


PaulsenChris Paulsen, Campaign Manager for Freedom Indiana, is a long time Hoosier. Chris brings a business and coalition building background to the campaign. She spent over 20 years working for a regional custom homebuilder as Vice President of Operations overseeing sales, purchasing, administration and construction. Chris currently owns her own custom homebuilding company.  Chris has a been an active member of the LGBT movement as a board member and President of Indiana Equality Action, a board member of Freedom Indiana during the marriage amendment fight, and as a member of the capital campaign committee of Indiana Youth Group.   For more about Chris.


RusthovenPeter Rusthoven, a partner in the Indianapolis office, has a multi-dimensional practice. His business experience includes transactional and corporate governance work, in areas ranging from manufacturing to publishing to healthcare. He was active in drafting Indiana’s corporation statute and official comments and has frequently written and spoken on corporate change-of-control issues. In the governmental services area, he is experienced in gaming and alcoholic beverage licensing and other regulatory and legislative services matters. For more about Peter.


WesciState Representative Timothy Wesco (R-District 21) is a 5th generation Hoosier and a lifelong resident of St. Joseph County. He and his wife, Kathryn, live in Osceola. Timothy is the sixth of 10 siblings and the son of Virgil and Rebecca Wesco. Representative Wesco serves on the following committees: Public Policy (Vice Chair), Local Government, Employment, Labor & Pensions, and Elections & Apportionment.  He holds an associate’s degree in biblical studies from Midwest School of Theology and a B.S. in organizational management from Bethel College.



Register now For more information about the #CLDE16 meeting, go here.

Don’t forget to book your hotel room by May 25th.

Indianapolis Marriott Downtown
350 W. Maryland Street
Indianapolis, IN, 46225

Phone: 317-822-3500
Toll-free: 1-888-236-2427

Room Rate
The special conference rate is $175 for a single/double room, $185 for a triple room, and $195 for a quad; plus applicable state and local taxes (currently 17%).

PLEASE NOTE:  You must choose first what type of room you need (single/double, triple, or quad occupancy) and then the link will take you to choose the dates and enter your information.