Marriage Equality in Indiana

Love is all we need

Marriage is not about religion…Atheists marry.

Marriage is not about procreation…the infertile marry.

Marriage is not about finance…it can weave poverty.

Marriage IS about LOVE.

 

June 25, 2014:

“U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause because it treats couples differently based on their sexual orientation.

Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

It’s been over 12 hours since I heard the news of this. It still has not completely sunk in yet. Could it really be possible that I live in a state where I could legally marry another woman? WHOA!!

When I first came out just over 17 years ago, I didn’t even think about the possibility of marrying another woman one day. I honestly did not think it would happen in my lifetime. After all, why would we fight for something like that when we were still (and are still) trying just to be considered normal by the majority of others? Having legal same-sex marriage was ‘pie in the sky’ thinking back then.

Now it is here, even if it might be temporarily put on hold, in a state where I reside?! Unbelievable!!

As a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was being considered by the state legislature earlier this year in Indiana, it felt very personal and was now very close to home. I’m not in a relationship and have not been for a few years now, but I still found myself feeling obligated to try to educate those around me. It might not have had a physical impact on my life right at this moment, but it definitely had an emotional impact.

I had some great conversations with friends. Often I would hear that they are okay with something ‘like’ marriage but want it called something else such as a civil union. Those ideas immediately make me think of the concept of “separate but equal.” We all know that that has not worked in public education in regards to segregation, integration and even Title IX. Why do we think it would work with marriage? Also, what is the point of calling it something else? Giving it a different name would simply imply that it was different and therefore not equal. If it is meant to grant all of the same rights, just call it by the same name.

So, what rights would we get by having same-sex marriage legal?

“The General Accounting Office in 1997 released a list of 1,049 benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples. These benefits range from federal benefits, such as survivor benefits through Social Security, sick leave to care for ailing partner, tax breaks, veterans benefits and insurance breaks. They also include things like family discounts, obtaining family insurance through your employer, visiting your spouse in the hospital and making medical decisions if your partner is unable to. Civil Unions protect some of these rights, but not all of them.” http://lesbianlife.about.com/cs/wedding/a/unionvmarriage.htm

Some might say that same-sex couples can have an attorney complete wills and powers of attorney for the couple. Yes, this is true…but not guaranteed to be followed. Wills can and often are challenged by family members who disapprove of the relationship. Not to mention the cost to do this. Why should same-sex couples have to pay considerably more for fewer rights that might not be guaranteed?

Having same-sex marriage legal could have had a HUGE impact on my life back in 1999. I will share more at a later date, but when my first partner died suddenly, I was left out of all of the planning of her services despite the fact that we had been together for two years. Yes, we had separated a couple of months before her death, but we still saw each other every day and were still very much in love. Had we been married, our divorce would not have been finalized and I would have been the legal next of kin.

Legal same-sex marriage is about more than just having the same legal rights of other married couples. There are other, more emotional, benefits as well. A legal marriage has the possibility to also bring about more acceptance and respect for those in same-sex relationships. We would be able to hold our heads higher and over time lower our guard a bit more. With time, we won’t be considered “less than” to the degree that we are now.

Remember, my friends, it is all about L.O.V.E.

Gay marriage will be universally accepted in time. But if I may be so bold as to say to gays and lesbians, don’t wait for that time to arrive. Just as my father and his generation did not ‘wait’ for their civil rights, nor should you. The toothpaste ain’t going back in the tube. The tide has turned.

John Ridley

(John Ridley won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, making him the second African-American to win the award.)

 

 

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