The passage of marriage equality in Illinois is so exciting! My wife and I had what I like to call our illegal ceremony with family three years ago, and we've been talking about a D.C. marriage ever since DOMA was overturned. Upon hearing the good news next door, we're now going to consider a Chicago wedding. But this victory is also bittersweet, because in our own state things aren't going so well.
A piece of legislation called HJR-6, which would place a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Indiana, was already passed last year in the Indiana House and Senate, and it's up for another vote this year. I always thought Indiana would be one of the last states standing in opposition to marriage equality, but I don't want to see us taking steps backward while the rest of the country moves forward. However, a surprising outpouring of support for equal marriage has risen from Hoosiers who want to show our legislators that gay families and straight allies do exist in Indiana. Universities, corporations and even clergy are declaring their disapproval of HJR-6. Hundreds of Hoosiers have written their legislators, including me. My family is one of countless others who have been doing what we can to get around our lack of legal recognition. I got my last name changed in court to be the same as my wife's. We have a child together, and my wife co-adopted our son. Our wills should take care of any loopholes left over, hopefully. If we get married in another state, we can now obtain federal benefits. I still can't put my wife on my insurance through my job, and she can't do the same for me, but at least we get to choose which of our insurance policies will work best for our son, and he legally belongs to both of us. But even co-parent adoption has been rumored to be under fire lately, though I don't think anything is on the table right now.
If HJR-6 doesn't pass, all it will mean is we have avoided a constitutional ban for now. Last summer the Indianapolis City-County Council passed an ordinance providing domestic partner benefits for city and county workers, so we have been taking small forward steps to this moment. But I do believe that if we can get this to be opposed or even just never voted on, it will pave the way to eventual marriage rights sometime in the future. Bumper stickers and signs in oppositions to HJR-6 are cropping up in this supposed right-wing state. For the citizens who are blind to just how large the gay community is in Indiana, I think they're finding out now that we're here in numbers ( in case they haven't been paying attention to the thousands of people who attend Circle City Pride every June in Indianapolis. )
The best-case scenario right now is that our lives do not change at all. If the ban passes, HJR-6 will be put on the ballot in 2014. If a ban on gay marriage is voted on and passed, some rights we now take for granted such as being able to visit our partner in the hospital or making wills bestowing property to our spouses could be reversed. The people of Illinois might be getting a lot more visits from their neighbors to the east in the near future! For more information on how to get involved to oppose HJR-6, you can go here: http://www.indianaequalityaction.org/get-informed/nix-6/
Kim Flowers lives in Indiana with her wife and son. She has multiple short stories and novels published through QueerTeen Press ( kimflowersbooks.weebly.com ).