A proposed gay-marriage ban in Indiana is dragging LGBT Hoosiers back while the rest of the country is moving forward.
Indiana law already bans equal marriage, but this isn't enough for our lawmakers; they want an amendment in the constitution. After some dirty politicsincluding a name switch ( from HJR-6 to HJR-3 ), a vote delay, and even a committee changethe House Elections and Apportionment Committee passed the ban by a vote of nine to three on Jan. 22. Now it will move to a full House vote and then to the state Senate; if it continues to pass, from there it will go on the Indiana ballots in November. According to local news reports, red-clad opponents to the legislation in attendance at the House Chambers burst out in laughter after testimony that gay marriage would lead to polygamy. A gay U.S. Air Force vet was also escorted out of the chambers for making a thumbs-down gesture.
We need help from anyone who's willing. There have been people suggesting we reach out to LGBT groups in Chicago. Education about HJR-3 is one of the main challenges. Misinformation and lies are everywhere. Some Indiana citizens are confused and think HJR-3 would legalize gay marriage. These people tell me and other gay friends, "Good luck! I hope it passes!" Others say Lambda Legal and the ACLU are not helping us at all because they "won't touch Indiana." ( This is not true, because I contacted representatives and asked! )
Like many states in this country, the younger generation of Indiana is supportive of gay marriage. Many of the older citizens are not as backward as they are made out to be, either. Maybe it would be a good thing for HJR-3 to make it to the polls, so our citizens can show our lawmakers and the rest of the country how we really feel. If HJR-3 is shot down, it will still be illegal for gays to marry. If it passes, the few rights we do enjoysuch as domestic-partner benefits ( in some, but definitely not all companies ), co-parent adoptions ( technically not legal here, but sometimes allowed ), hospital visitations and even the right to plan our spouses' funeralcould also disappear.
Freedom Indiana is the organization at the forefront of this battle, and it has been doing a fantastic job. "Reject HJR-6" signs and stickers popped up all over the state, and after our beloved lawmakers changed the name of the proposed ban, were replaced with new signs saying "Reject HJR-3." Contrary to what the rest of the nation may believe, there is a large and thriving LGBT community in Indiana. We have gay bars/clubs, two Pride festivals, choirs, bands, dance groups, an annual Film Fest, bookstores, Indiana Youth Group, and so many drag queens. Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Muncie are definitely the gay-friendliest cities.
But some of the negative things you might hear about our state are true, as well. For example, most small towns do not offer LGBT youth groups or support in any way. I was one of those kids at a small rural school afraid to come out until I was 18, and I had a friend who was disowned after he came outand he later committed suicide. There are times I feel ( perhaps incorrectly ) that some LGBT people in other states don't realize how good they have it, and don't know how much some of the rest of us still have to struggle. Proponents of HJR-3 claim they are doing this for families and children, but they are ignoring the gay children, and the children of gay parents, who are already suffering. We are here, our families are here, and we need help.
For more information, go to www.freedomindiana.org/ .
Kim Flowers is a YA author from Indiana. See kimflowersbooks.weebly.com .