Sunday, January 12, 2014

Indiana Lawmakers Considering a Ballot Measure to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

Republican lawmakers in the Indiana General Assembly have introduced a proposed amendment to the State's constitution that would ultimately ban same-sex marriage.

I come by this interest in the deliberations of the Indiana legislature honestly -- I was born and grew up there, realizing during my sophomore year at Indiana University in 1974 that I was a lesbian, only five years after Stonewall.

There were no gay community centers, no Ellen DeGeneres on daytime television and gays were banned from serving in the military (antecedent to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell").  When I told my mother I was gay, she said:  "Oh you will have a terrible life."  And when I looked up the definition of "lesbian" in Webster's Dictionary, it was not good, as the writer of the definition illustrated the sorrowful life of lesbians by mentioning Virginia Woolf's tell tale novel "A Room of One's Own."

Thus, I departed the State in 1978, never to return.  Not only was my own family homophobic, racist, among other prejudices, but I grew up a state known as a KKK hotbed, that was also anti-Catholic and of course, antisemitic.  

Bigotry has a dark history in Indiana lore.  And it is currently proving that while the rest of the country is moving toward more fully embracing its LGBT citizens, Indiana's lawmakers seem intent are returning to its destructive past. 

But back to the present.

On January 13, the House Judiciary Committee will consider and vote on the measure.  At the moment, Freedom Indiana, led by openly gay, Republican operative Megan Robertson, is not saying if her campaign is assured to beat back the vote.

HJR3 (formerly known as HJR6) and a new version of the amendment language which indicates what HJR3 does and does not do, known as HB 1153.  No doubt, different numbers and versions of the amendment language is causing  confusion among opponents, which is probably a pretty good bet to be the intention of the proponents.

Indiana state law requires a proposed amendment to be passed by two successive General assemblies, which originally passed HJR6 in 2011.

The language of HJR3 is the following:
Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana; and
A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
On January 11, I participated in radio program hosted by Civil Discourse Now, based in Indianapolis to discuss the proposed amendment and all its related issues.  You can listen to the podcast here:

Interested persons should check Indiana Freedom for updates on the vote by the House Judiciary Committee hearing which starts today at 10 a.m.  But regardless of the outcome, it is truly regrettable that the Republicans have now given new meaning to the term "Hoosier Hysteria,"(which usually refers to Hoosiers love of basketball).

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