Lesbian and gay Hoosiers lined up to get married on June 25, following a federal court decision striking down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling is a strong about face, coming just months after Indiana state legislators approved HJR-3, a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions – laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love. 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.
County clerk offices across the state began issuing marriage licenses the same day, following a directive from the attorney general. He instructed the five counties named in lawsuits to comply with the ruling or face contempt of court. He urged the other 87 counties to “show respect for the judge and the orders that are issued.” The attorney general also appealed the ruling to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and filed a request for an emergency stay to stop same-sex marriages.
My friends Jen and Erin jumped at the chance to get hitched. They’ve been together for 10 years and have two children. They’re everything a married couple is, aside from being legally recognized. They were overjoyed as they recited their vows:
The atmosphere at the Marion County Clerk’s Office in Indianapolis was one of pure joy. Couples and their families were smiling, hugging, eating cake, holding flowers, playing with their kids. It was an important moment to witness.
Indiana is a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan and socially conservative politicians. Republican Gov. Mike Pence is outwardly opposed to same-sex marriage, supporting a constitutional amendment to ban it. For those of us who grew up in Indiana closeted and shamed amid a “family values” storm, yesterday was a milestone.
But watching the line of white, cisgender gays and lesbians waiting to marry served as a reminder that Indiana is the ideal state for marriage, gay or straight. Even those who live on the margins validate the status quo by wanting it so badly. To many gays and lesbians, being able to marry is the ultimate sign of acceptance because “we’re just like you.” It served as an all too real reminder for the queer arguments against marriage as an institution. It was so raw; so human; so beautiful; and so sad.
It was so painful to watch my community jump at the chance to assimilate to straight, white culture. The clerk’s office stayed open until 11 p.m. to perform 186 weddings for same-sex couples, and the line in Marion County was literally out the door:
Lez be real: As a proud lesbian-identified Hoosier, I recognize that being able to marry is big deal. Lesbians and gays aren’t redefining marriage, they’re simply justifying it. But I am glad I was there to witness my community gain access to a cultural institution, and I love watching people that I love get want they want and deserve.
UPDATE: Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was also struck down on June 25, and gays and lesbians also rushed to their local courthouses to tie the knot. This serves as more evidence that “family values” states will continue to award marriage to gays because we reinforce — not destroy — those values. But at least this couple looks cute and happy:
This post is part of an on-going series by Sports Butch, a diehard fan of the Indianapolis sports, especially the Colts and Pacers. But not the Speedway. Anything but that.Follow @queerknowledge