Monday, January 15, 2007

Senator Brandt Hershman And Family Values

Since he was first elected as a member of the Indiana Senate in 2000 from District 7, Brandt Hershman (R) has made the passage of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages the most important part of his legislative agenda. He was the principal author of SJR-7 when it passed two years ago, and he is the principal author again this year. He and other proponents of the amendment argue it is needed to protect "traditional marriage" and to promote procreation in a household headed by one father and one mother.

So as principal author of this important constitutional amendment, how does Sen. Hershman stand up as a family man? Not too good, at least according to his ex-wife. On election day in 2000, the Logansport Pharos-Tribune ran a shocking story in which Tracy Johnson Hershman alleged her ex-husband, Brandt, a few years earlier drove her to an abortion clinic in Merrillville where he paid for her to have an abortion and then filed for divorce one week later. As the newspaper wrote in November, 2000:

The open seat for one Logansport area legislative race is encountering an open season on a controversial issue as the campaign enters its final day.

The former wife of Republican State Senate candidate Brandt Hershman said Monday that his pro-life positions and endorsement by Indian Right to Life do not conform with his personal beliefs. Tracy Johnson Hershman said when she became pregnant in early 1997, Hershman asked to have an abortion. On May 30, 1997, she claims he drove her to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Merrillville where he paid for her to abort their child. Hershman asked her for a divorce a week later, she said.

“This is about somebody who really isn’t who he says he is,” Johnson Hershman, a former Valparaiso Vidette Messenger reporter who now resides in Michigan City.

Tracy Johnson Hershman, who says she is a Republican, said he forced her to have an abortion. Brandt Hershman said, “I did not force anyone to do anything, ever, period. Tracy Johnson Hershman’s response is that he may not have forcibly made her have an abortion, but he made it clear he wanted her to abort the child.Tracy Johnson Hershman, who is also Catholic, said her former husband did not want her to go to church.

“If he just got religion, he just got religion,” she says.

“I am the one with the Catholic guilt over (the abortion),” she said. “I’m the one who sat there and cried over the entire thing.”

The couple had been married since 1989.

Tracy Johnson Hershman said she is not out to assassinate the character of her former husband, but the truth has to be known, but she learned of some of the claims her former husband was making after his campaign supporters called on a former business associate.

Because the story didn't hit the newspaper until the day of the election in just a single newspaper in Hershman's Repubican-leaning Senate district, it had little impact on the race. The issue seemed to fade away by the time Hershman, an advocate for Right to Life, sought re-election in 2004. Although Hershman denied forcing his ex-wife to have an abortion according to the newspaper account, he didn't appear to deny the abortion took place.

The account of Hershman's ex-wife, if true, is quite relevant to the senator's public life and the issues he advocates today. For a man who devotes so much time in the legislature touting family values, he doesn't practice those values in his private life based on his former wife's account. But with so many hypocrites on the religious right, it's do as I say, not as I do.

Sen. Hershman was elected to serve as the Majority Whip for the Senate Republican caucus at the beginning of this session and is employed as a district staffer for U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer (R).

Let's hope the mainstream media takes Sen. Hershman to task on his own private life as he seeks to write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution against the state's gay and lesbian citizens, and doesn't ignore his hypocrisy as they did two years ago.

Hat tip to the anonymous commenter who dug up this old newspaper story.


Anonymous said...

AI- I understand your anger at Hershman's hypocrisy, but, your post makes me a little uneasy. Gay marriages, civil unions and commitments between two people whoever ARE family values. To me, they are all positive things that should be encouraged. I worry that by constantly pointing out the negative "values" of people who don't support gay rights, the message becomes- if you sin, why can't I? It places gay relationships in a comparison of negative behavior- which I think is the wrong way to approach it (and I know you don't mean to imply that, but, I think it has that connotation).

Gary R. Welsh said...

Erin, I respect your point of view, but the central focus of SJR-7 is the preservation of marriage. My contention is that it does nothing to protect marriage. Hershman, like Advance America's Eric Miller, is now on his second marriage. What happened to "til death do we part?" Isn't that part of "traditional marriage"? Hershman and Miller have both contributed to a breakdown in the family in our society. And just what did gays and lesbians do to cause their marriages to end? I believe whenever any public person wants to make family values part of their public agenda, which necessarily involves passing moral judgment on others, they need to be prepared to have their own life scrutinized. They can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you AI. But, somewhat counterintuitively, I actually get more angry at people who have actually had the experience of a loving and committed marriage wanting to keep that from their fellow Americans.

As you rightly point out, the irony is that often those most vocal about "traditional marriage" tend to have nasty skeletons in their personal closets. Someone like Hershman, I almost expect him to be for the amendment, exactly because of the disregard he apparently holds for marriage. It is really all BS and pandering. But, again, those that actually do respect and uphold their own marriages, I can't fathom the lack of empathy.

Anonymous said...

I admire your courage, Gary. This is an explosive post.

What newspaper originally carried this account, and when? I'm a little confused about the trail of events and the reporting of same. Not your problem, granted...but it could have been made a little clearer up-front. It is an important feature of this sordied story. I read it twice and I'm still a tad confused...probably my early A.M foggy mind.

To me, the divorce is almost more important than the abortion. This man forced his wife to end their marriage and she's a practicing Catholic who doesn't believe in it. An abortion is a difficult one to make (abortion), and should remain private and available under certain conditions. But it sounds as if the good senator forced this one. Family values, indeed.

Is he remarried? Does he have other children, or kids since the incident?

The mainstream media won't touch this. One more reason we need blogs.

Thank you, I think. The toothpaste is out of the tube now.
It's not surprising to me that this gutless wonder works for Buyer. Are Republicans now stealing the Dems' thunder by electing public employees to positions of high power?

Who is paying his Congressional salary while the session continues and he's gone fulltime? Is he cutting his salary proportionately, or is he making up the time to we taxpayers in the Cong. office?

There's another good angle on this story.

And another chief proponent of the Amendment, of course, is the good senator from South Indy who has never married and "inherited" a good deal of money, and his fancy car, from an older gentleman friend. As if no one sees through THAT nonsense. "Family."

Gary R. Welsh said...

The story ran in the Logansport newspaper on the day of the election in 2000. According to his bio on the legislative website, he is now married to another woman. The bio doesn't indicate he has children.

Anonymous said...

Hershman's another double-dipper. He pulling down close to $80,000 a year from the federal government working as a Buyer's district director.

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT post Gary!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting information Gary. His hypocrisy is staggering.

Anonymous said...

Federal workplace rules, alas, do not apply to MCs (Members of Congress) or their offices.

But as a common courtesy to Indiana taxpayers, you'd think Rep. Buyer would demand that Mr./Sen. Hershman's time away from the MC office be counted as vacation/personal days, and, when exhausted, unpaid time off.

I know someone who workedin that office. Mr./Sen. Hershman takes customary vacations. Like, away with family trips. So, he's clearly not deducting the legislature time from his federal paycheck.

Ditto this question for Mr./Sen. Delph. (Dan Burton's staff)

Isn't it interesting, it's anti-big-government ultra-right conservatives who flaunt this double-dip?

When either Mr./Senator gets a legislature phone call while on federal duty, they use federal phones, complete with those nitfy long-distance-free lines, and FAXes, office equipment, furniture, etc.

Are any "trips" around the "district" (which one?) reimbursed with federal mileage payments, and indeed they were partially/fully legislature business?

What a hornet's nest of inconsistent values.

Excellent post in many respects, although it dances close to the personal-business arena...

Gary R. Welsh said...

The last I checked, Delph no longer worked for Burton. According to his bio, he's working government relations for Comcast--I'm sure there's no conflict of interest with his legislative work.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit conflicted as to whether or not to publicly blast Senator Hershman for the abortion matter, but something else does seem to be directly relevant to his authorship of SJR7: SJR7 very closely tracks the original version of the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment which Congress has failed to adopt. Both restrict state legislatures (not just "activist judges" and both use the term "unmarried couples". Seeing problems with the first FMA version, conservative supporters changed it in 2004 to keep state legislatures free to enact at least some benefits for same-sex couples. They also got rid of "unmarried couples" because of the possibility of unintended consequences. But did Senator Hershman reflect the change in the Indiana version? No.
Does he continue to say the legislature remains free in this area? You bet. Is misrepresentation sinful? Yes. Is he a sinner? Only his Maker knows for sure.

Anonymous said...

Delph...Comcast...two examples of superior customer service.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.....the ubiquitous Sir Hailstone is noticably quiet on this.

Gary, one of the reasons I like your blog is that you're not afraid to call your fellow republicans to the carpet. I wish others could take off their partisan blinders

Anonymous said...

they havhe their Hail, we have our kind of balances out

Anonymous said...

Brandt Hershman killed his unborn child to avoid child-support payments thereby preserving and protecting the institution of marriage. He and Buyer are two of the biggest hypocritical homophobes around.

Anonymous said...

Homophobes always make me wonder what they are afraid of..... that someone might LIKE that awful (file) photo of Hershman.. be attracted to his thinner, youthful, less balding self? (Photo is about 10 years old. Can't get away with that in a chat room, dude!)

BUYER--- hmm.. where has he been for all these votes lately. Certainly not in his district-- since he never sets foot in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Buyer is recovering from surgery from a ski accident.

Anonymous said...

I was a student of Ms Hershmans when she was married to Brant. She was devestated by the incident and was never the same he promised her their union would stay intact IF she had the abortion, then filed for divorce. He lied, killed and probably cheated. She was in love with him, and never thought she could have a child. Then he took away that which she thougth she would never, and as far as I know has never had since. Bad, Bad, man!