My name is Teri Ulm. I’m the outgoing Interim Chair of the Indiana Green Party (INGP) for 2020-2021, former Chair of the Circle City Greens 2018, and current member of the Indiana Green Party1 and Circle City Greens2.
I write to share my report on autocratic actions of the Indiana Green Party. Our allies in the Emergency Committee to Save the Green Party say our situation is not unique; that apparently similar shenanigans have been reported in as many as nine state parties, where dissent on these issues has surfaced. This list includes multiple states with large enough delegate counts to meaningfully reflect the diversity of views on the underlying issues at the heart of this controversy. I assure you that two YES votes from Indiana on GNC #1062 misrepresent the opinions of Indiana Green party's membership which were evenly divided when we actually discussed the matter and took a vote on the question several months ago.
An Indiana Green Party National Delegate Alternate, Jeff Sutter, was undemocratically removed from his elected position. Jeff Sutter should be on the national committee listserv and specifically in the conversation in regard to proposal #1062. Jeff Sutter should still be serving his one year term, which ends in mid August based on the date of his election last year. At that point he should continue to represent the concerns and perspectives of Indiana Greens for the coming year as an Alternate to the Green National Committee based on his election at our state party Congress held at the end of June.
Dissent has been silenced in both our state and national parties which each tell us that they oppose silencing dissent. The Minority Report linked below recounts some piece of the history we are busy writing of the destruction of our party. My own report, which you are reading now, provides another chapter to this volume. But for the rest of the story it is important that we listen to the many other voices being silenced within our ranks.
As Greens we all care about the environment, democracy, diversity, feminism, social justice, and so much more. However, the mutually recognized need to lift up oppressed voices has backfired in the case presented in #1062. It has backfired because the oppressed don’t know where their dogmatic ideology ends and the thoughts and convictions for the rest of us begin. We all want a party which hears the oppressed, lifts us up, and ensures we each have a place in society. But compelled thought and speech is itself oppressive and anathema to Green values.
It seems redundant to have to reiterate, as Jeff Sutter did in the Minority Report3, that "Greens are all united by our support for trans folk to be able to do and be the way they want & not to be mistreated for their gender non-conformity or self-presentation. Indeed, all people should be free to dress and express themselves as they wish without discrimination, stigma, or violence. Members of the Georgia party believe this just as other Greens do. The disagreement that led to the LC's complaint therefore has nothing to do with actual bigotry or prejudice on the part of Georgia.”
Autocratic Behavior of incoming leadership
in the Indiana Green Party
On June 26, 2021, I chaired the Indiana Green Party’s Annual Congress and officiated the election. (INGP Congress 20214). While seasoned Greens in the state of Indiana were focused on filing a ballot access lawsuit with Oliver Hall from the Center for Competitive Democracy, identifying and vetting candidates, Greens new to our party were actively campaigning to unseat any Green that failed to support without question their own narrow ideology already demonstrated to be highly controversial within the Indiana party. The election went as the new Greens had planned, with a healthy dose of ad hominem attacks by the new candidates and their allies leveled against the incumbent. It was nothing unusual. Just the by now expected tactic of tagging, without evidence, Jeff Sutter as a transphobe; much like we have seen deployed against the Georgia Green Party in the run-up to #1062. Such extremists have been doing exactly this for years now, to their feminist targets and to the pro-feminist men who stand up against such abuse.
These people did not know Jeff, nor his history of activism for human rights and against homophobic discrimination and violence. Jeff's crimes? (1) standing up for the rights of women in the world (Jeff was a member of RAVEN, Rape and Violence End Now, an early pro-feminist batterers intervention program, and to this day is employed by an organization challenging male violence against women); and (2) exposing violations of basic due process in the Accreditation Committee (the Minority Report), were all the evidence the ideologues needed.
They claimed their seats and started ruling with an authoritarian style, purging and silencing dissenting opinions from their legitimately held leadership roles in our state party. Most significant to the current vote on #1062, the newly elected INGP leaders put a muzzle on Jeff Sutter, author of the Minority Report on #1062, because they all share that controversial and narrow ideology supported by cancel culture tactics. This is in direct violation of the key values: Respect for Diversity and Democracy.
The INGP is entitled under our rules to four seats on the Green National Committee; two delegate and two alternate positions. Only 3 people qualified by the deadline declaring their willingness to run for these seats. Rather than working to fill the remaining vacancy on our national party delegation, the incoming party leadership defied our rules and our values to advance their anti-feminist agenda.
INGP Election Results
On the ballot that every member received was a link5 to the webpage that lists all positions including the 4 national delegate positions (2 active & 2 alternates) outlining their roles and duties.
Jeff Sutter's continued service was approved by a majority of voters who ranked him as a first, second, or third choice. "None of the above” was an option. There is no question Jeff Sutter has majority approval of the INGP membership to represent the Indiana Green Party as a member of our national Delegation for 2021-2022.
Violations & Background
Upon taking office, the new INGP executive officers exceeded the authority of our bylaws, constituting themselves as an Executive Committee. Our bylaws mention such an entity only once, and only to state that such a committee (whose membership it is vague on) is entitled to certain reporting. Once convened as the previously non-existent Executive Committee, they unilaterally decided (without Coordinating Committee (CC) vote or discussion) that the INGP will now have zero (0) Alternate Delegates; . . . not the two (2) to which we are entitled, or which were advertised as our intention to elect in the call to the Convention, but zero (0). The INGP's incoming leadership, none of whom have any long standing history with the state party, formed their brand new committee called the "executive committee” (again without CC vote or discussion) specifically to remove Jeff Sutter from his elected role as National Committee Alternate Delegate. They have given no indication of what additional they intend to assume for themselves without consultation with the membership. The formation of this executive committee is in direct violation of the INGP bylaws6. The creation of the executive committee and the alteration of the election results arises from the conflict created by the filing of the complaint by the National Lavender Greens Caucus v. The Georgia Green Party7.
The Lavender Caucus complaint seeking to revoke the Georgia party's accreditation was discussed among members of the INGP board on multiple occasions over the past year, as members within our ranks agitated for our state party to co-sign the complaint. We found our membership divided on the questions raised, and the motion to join the complaint was tabled without resolution.
If the incoming INGP leaders cared about democracy, Jeff Sutter would still exercise a vote as a Delegate until the end of his term, and would be recognized as our Alternate for the coming year. He would still be subscribed to the national listserve, able to educate the National Committee about the corruption of the Accreditation Committee process documented in the Minority Report he authored, able to answer the the questions you have about that that Minority Report.
a brief timeline
Prior to Congress
Jeff Sutter was challenged by now Assistant Chair Cassiday Moriarity, in an email to our state party's Coordinating Committee on May 28 (and other times):
Jeff, I have been informed you are the sole dissent in an otherwise unanimous vote to discredit (sic) Georgia in the committee. All Georgia and Lavender Caucus Representatives were removed from voting and yet it is an overwhelming majority belief that they need to be disaccredited. It's also particularly concerning of (sic) your support for the DNE, which has put out explicitly anti trans rhetoric when you claim your belief has to do with women's feminist rights. If you are the sole dissent on the disaccreditation of Georgia you would be responsible for writing a minority opinion on behalf of the INGP (which you are meant to represent). The INGP Lavender Caucus has come out in explicit support of disaccreditation of Georgia. Care to explain? (s/) Cassiday Moriarity
It is important to note that the Indiana Green Party board discussed endorsing the national Lavender Greens complaint. The motion to do so failed. Prior to the vote, the board was tasked with reading all relevant documents and coming to a board meeting prepared to discuss their stance. The vote was called and the board was split 50/50.
At the 2021 Congress of the Indiana Green Party; . . .
Jeff was again publicly called out during the INGP Congress by newly elected national delegate Jacob Peterson who said he was "encouraged by some members to run for this particular position this year8" and that the trans issue was "something he did not know coming in to this" and he thinks "it's unfortunate that ... specifically, one of our national delegates approved of this kind of behavior9.”
Jeff was very clearly announced as the Indiana Green Party's Alternate Delegate during Congress when we were going over the election results. He easily won over the "None of the above" option for third place - see at 2:24:32 in our Congress recording10.
The new leaders of the INGP were made aware of the proper procedures to inform national of the new Indiana delegation, including Jeff Sutter as alternate. Jeff Sutter was not mentioned in the press release published by Cassiday Moriarity11, as Assistant Chair, albeit in a way leaving the reader with the impression that Byron Holmes, who was elected as the incoming Communications Director but has declined so far to assume those duties. Comparing this with past post-Congress press releases announcing the results of our internal elections, the INGP has listed Alternates alongside other party servants, when we have been able to fill those vacancies. See for example July
28, 2018's press release12 acknowledging the election of Alternate Amanda Thornburg.
The newly elected officers of the INGP created an executive committee and used this committee's self-assumed authority to make the decision to remove Jeff Sutter from his elected position.
Jeff Sutter was then removed from the national committee listserv, on the strength of a letter from the incoming officers of the state party.
Upon hearing the news of Jeff’s removal from the national committee listserv, members of the INGP CC pushed back and questioned the executive decision that the newly elected officers made without the democratic engagement of the membership required by our bylaws. Intimately knowing the discussion and voting time frames at national, the INGP’s new leadership delayed addressing the INGP’s board members concerns until the first board meeting which was set for July 17th. The executive decision that the newly formed executive committee made is in direct violation of the INGP bylaws. No such “executive committee” exists under our rules. The power to make such decisions falls on the membership through Congress then the CC as a whole.
These actions set a clear and dangerous precedent raising grave concerns for the intentions for our party of the INGP's incoming leadership. It's telling that they would take such divisive actions on behalf of the entire INGP without any type of discussion with the members they're supposed to represent.
Authoritarians Take Charge
On July 17, 2021, the newly elected officers of the INGP held their first boardmeeting. The last topic on the INGP’s CC agenda was the issue of Jeff Sutter’s undemocratic removal from his position as National Committee Delegate and Alternate.
At this CC meeting, a former Green candidate and the Chair of the Northwest Indiana Green Party called into question the newly formed Executive Committee and the authority it has assumed for itself. The newly elected Assistant Chair, Cassiday Moriarity, tried13 to silence him after he seconded a motion to immediately reinstate Jeff Sutter as National Delegate. Now aware of his position on the controversy, she raised concerns for his credentials as a voting member of the board with the ability to second a motion, although his votes and participation earlier in the meeting had raised no such concerns for her. This is also despite the fact that this board member is the Proxy Officer to the Indiana Green Party, the chair of the Northwest Indiana Green Party, and co-author of the INGP bylaws. The new Assistant Chair tried to take his right to vote away after she found out how he was going to vote on this particular issue.
It is important to note that, with one exception, the newly elected officers of the INGP are new to the party, its culture and its democratic practices. Our state party's institutional memory is being purged as a new purist ideology takes hold.
Conclusion & Plea
The Green Party’s values are being cast aside. Voices we support are demanding we adopt their ideology without debate. Where is the line? The rejection of political pluralism, or recognition and affirmation of diversity within a political body, is authoritarianism. A vote yes or no on GNC #1062 will determine if the Green Party respects diversity of thought within its ranks. A vote yes or no will determine if the Green Party is an authoritarian party, or is willing to respect its own values for democracy, feminism and respecting diversity.
Silencing of dissent is happening all around us. Why is it so many people (unless it is their voice) seem to be fine with this? Voices in the Green Party which once sought to build consensus among its diverse membership are being silenced by sectariansim. To say that there is no debate as the national Lavender Caucus and (Dis)accrediation Committee have is not grounded in reality. No one is debating the existence of anyone. But a political party must be able to debate the implications for the rights of women of the policy demands being made by gender ideologists. It would be irresponsible of us not to do so. These very same issues are being debated around the world. Surely, there must be room for such debate here in the democracy-valuing Green Party. Let’s #OpenTheDebates and #FreeAssangeNOW.
A labor law tribunal in the UK recently resolved a controvery arising when Maya Forstater was terminated from her employment for voicing her understanding, on her own time, on her own social media profile that it is not possible to change one's biological sex. When a lower court decision was overturned making clear that indeed her opinions on the matter are not grounds for an adverse employment action, her attorney published a letter commenting on the ruling. His response was titled: The Forstater Judgment: What Next?14 and said in part:
"Feminism is not transphobia and the pursuit of transgender rights is not misogynist. Transgender people and women have rights. Where those rights conflict (as they do), resolution through discussion and debate requires a desire for good-faith engagement and a rejection of vitriol and vilification. The era of mere sloganeering has ended."
"Such an exclusive 'one size fits all' LGBTQ approach to the protected characteristics of sexual orientation, gender reassignment and the associated philosophical beliefs is misguided in light of the judgment. Gender Theory has dominated discussion such that the extent to which these characteristics have been blended is not well understood. This blending extends to language and iconography: for example, the various neo-iterations of the Pride flag are seen by some as a symbol not of gay rights, but of Gender Theory, and therefore not adopted by all people whom those icons are said to represent. The continued adoption of this iconography is therefore a statement with more meaning that might perhaps be understood."
"This is the time of reflection and reset of this debate; and if that leads to engagement between opposing views on the issues of sex and gender; and if that can be modeled and replicated in other areas of political debates - then perhaps this blind optimism may yet not be entirely misplaced."
For all of the reasons set out above, and many more, your vote on whether or not to disaccredit the Georgia Green Party will resonate. As a woman, an Army veteran, a mother of a disabled child, a step-mother of a trans-child, a veteran member of the Green Party, I humbly request that each of you take time and really consider all the evidence submitted before you. I also request that you think about the consequences of your vote. A vote to purge the Georgia Green Party is a vote against decentralization, feminism, and democracy at the very least. As our individual values crumble, I see it as a vote against the party as a whole. I hope you see it that way as well.
Please Vote No on proposal #1062.
In solidarity with the Ten Key Values,
Outgoing Interim Chair
and member of
the Indiana Green Party
Former Chair, Circle City Greens
member, National Women’s Caucus
1 Indiana Green Party
3 Report of the Minority of the Accreditation Committee
With respect to the Committee’s referral of the Complaint of the
National Lavender Green Caucus Seeking the
Revocation of Accreditation for the Georgia Green Party
4 Audio / video recording of the June 26 th , 2021 annual Congress of the Indiana Green Party
5 Indiana Green Party webpage describing offices
up for election at June 26 th , 2021 annual Congress
6 Bylaws of the Indiana Green Party
7 GNC #1062 – Disaccreditation of the Georgia Green Party
8 Jacob Peterson ‘encouraged . . . to run’
9 Jacob Peterson characterizes ‘behavior’ of ‘national delegate’
10 Video and audio recording for the June 26 th , 2021 Congress of the Indiana Green Party
11 Press Release from Indiana Green Party, July 2021
12 Press Release from the Indiana Green Party, July 28th, 2018
13 Moriarty challenges Joseph Conn’s right to vote after he had fully participated with voice and vote throughout the
meeting until the discussion turned to the controversy over the so-called executive committee over the powers they
assumed to themselves without authority in the bylaws. https://youtu.be/4R3AHR5d8nw
14 The Forstater Judgement: What Next?