To have the greatest positive impact on our community and the clients we serve, Families First advocates for public policy that strengthens and supports central Indiana families. Recently, our Board of Directors adopted four public policy advocacy priorities for 2014 (click here to view those priorities). Since adopting the advocacy agenda, we have taken the following action steps:
Supporting Freedom Indiana
One of our 2014 advocacy priorities is to oppose any ban to the state Constitution on same-sex marriage. This stance falls in line with our organizational belief in honoring and respecting all families, regardless of form or composition. We believe that the bonds of kinship and a shared commitment to care for one another are the hallmarks of a family, and are not dependent on sexual orientation or biological ties.
As such, Families First has given our support to the Freedom Indiana coalition in opposing HJR-3. We are promoting their campaign efforts through our social media channels.
How you can help:
- Visit Freedom Indiana’s website to learn more about HJR-3 and consider taking individual action to support the campaign.
- Help Families First advocate against HJR-3 by sharing our posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on the issue.
Testimony at the State House
From time to time an unexpected pubic policy issue arises after the adoption of our advocacy agenda, that we still feel is important to support. This recently occurred when staff member Jennifer Hedlund was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Senate Bill 138. Jennifer is one of our Domestic Violence Victim Advocates working out of Marion Superior Court 21 to help victims of domestic violence through the often overwhelming process of filing for a protective order.
If made into law, Senate Bill 138 would provide Indiana courts the ability to allow victim advocates to attend civil proceedings and sit at the counsel table with their clients. This bill would bring welcome change to many Indiana courts that currently do not allow victim advocates to sit with their clients (in some courts, advocates can’t even enter the courtroom).
Jennifer knows how critical it can be for a domestic violence victim to have his or her advocate’s physical support during a court proceeding. “These individuals are often terrified to face their abuser in court,” Jennifer says. She testified before the committee that in many cases, when victims learn that their advocate cannot sit with them in court, they drop their request for a protective order altogether.
Jennifer makes it clear that a victim advocate is not there to provide legal advice to the client. “When I go to court with my clients, a lot of the time I don’t even have to say anything,” she explains. “For them, it’s just about them having somebody there, someone on their side, so they don’t feel like they’re facing it all alone.”
Thanks in part to Jennifer’s testimony, the bill passed out of the Senate and has now been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. We hope to see the bill receive a hearing.
How you can help:
- We encourage you to contact the Representatives on the House Judiciary Committee and ask them to support Senate Bill 138. Click here for a list of the Committee Members (*note: your voice is especially powerful if one of these Representatives is from your district!).