Gay People Legal Liabilities In Indiana, Montana

In another fix, I talked about Montana and Indiana, and their sad laws about gay people. The offer to come over still stands, but if you live in these two states things are a-changing already since my blog post.

In Indiana, a law banning gay marriage is being attacked at the IndyStar, with a great piece by Erika D. Smith. She talks bluntly about the fallacy underlying all gay-hating legislation, pretty much: the misconception that somehow, taking away the rights of gay people will make them less gay. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going to change our minds especially when Indiana isn’t the most exciting state, RIGHT?! Right. Plus, gay people are good for Indiana and everyone anyway:

Here’s what a constitutional ban on gay marriage won’t do:
It won’t stop gay couples from establishing households, then having and raising children.
It won’t stop gay couples from visiting other states to get married or even holding commitment ceremonies here.
It won’t stop people from going to gay bars and clubs. Talbott Street is in no danger of closing its doors.
It won’t stop people from going to Indianapolis’ annual pride parade and festival. Attendance — along with the event’s corporate sponsorships — has been growing every year, and I guarantee 2011 will be no different.
And it won’t stop the increasing social acceptance of gay culture, especially among teens and young adults. TV networks and Hollywood won’t stop producing shows and movies with gay characters.

But here’s what a constitutional ban on gay marriage would do:
It would enrage a community that has a national buying power of $743 billion and a higher household income per capita than average straight households.
It would deal a blow to the self-esteem of kids who do come out as gay because the ban would reinforce the idea that society hates them.
It would brand Indiana as a backward state where only heterosexuals would feel comfortable.
It would make it harder for major employers, such as Eli Lilly and Co. and WellPoint, to recruit a diverse workforce.
And it would make it harder for Indiana to retain a workforce of young, talented people who are looking for a community that embraces diversity, not discrimination.


But in Montana, the discussion is more than an opinion in a local paper: it’s a legal motion. And in Montana it isn’t gay marriage that’s illegal… it’s gay sex. Awkward. And event more awkward: Diane Sands’ bill to officially remove that policy from the state laws (it was overturned by the state courts in 1997, but the policy’s text remains) has been stalled in the state house judiciary committee. So, this is kind of a womp-womp, but the fight remains – both on the ground and in the state legal offices. Hopefully a future day will come where people can at least continue not getting married without having to be constitutionally banned from it, and where at least private intimate relationships can be, uh, legal.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. there may still be a state law that says gay sex is illegal, however this law is trumped by the supreme court of the united states decision lawrence v. texas. read the constitution re: the supremacy clause.

    i understand why people want the text of the statute to change but, um…is it the most important thing to focus on, given that it has been preemepted by Lawrence v. Texas?

    Lawrence v. texas, btw, not just for law students. should be required reading for everyone.

    • The Supreme Court can’t enforce laws, though, they can only hope that people will play by the rules. Granted, if the state did try to enforce it lawyers would be able to bring a lawsuit against it, but the fact that Lawrence is there, on its own, doesn’t get rid of those laws.

  2. Being somewhat ignorant of American politics, I wont comment with anything particularly engaging. Other than thank you for sharing the what a constitution ban on gay marriage will/wont do… well written and eye-opening.

  3. I agree with what that editorial piece had to say about a ban on gay marriage not changing what gay people actually do. However, I disagree with the basic premise that the main idea of such bans is to change gay people. At least in my area of Texas, the conservatives I’ve spoken to that agree with our ban do so not because they are afraid of gay people (they couldn’t give a shit about the gays, we could all die and they wouldn’t bat an eyelash), they agree with it because they have been told to be afraid for marriage, rather than afraid of gays.

    This is of course nonsensical, but still. There it is.

    • I agree. I think people are afraid that in “giving” something to any minority group they are giving up something of their own i.e. if they give me $1 they have one less dollar for themselves. So if they “let” gay people marry, then their straight marriage is somehow less than what it would have been if gays couldn’t marry.

      I keep getting stuck on the willful ignorance this approach requires. The rhetorical fallacies are well documented as are objective results e.g. 7 years after legalizing gay marriage Massachusetts has still not been struck by a meteor or broken off from the continent and fallen into the ocean, heterosexuals have not stopped marrying, and divorce rates haven’t shot up now that everyone is free to go gay.

      I thought that maybe it was a result of education, but apparently not. According to the list of best educated states from 2005 at

      #1 Vermont – same-sex marriage
      #2 Connecticut – same-sex marriage
      #3 Massachusetts – same-sex marriage
      #4 New Jersey – civil union
      #5 Maine – domestic partnership

      But Montana is #9. And Hawaii has civil unions and it’s #42.

      #46 California – oh, California…some same-sex marriages recognized, then constitutionally banned, then maybe not
      #47 Nevada – domestic partnerships
      #48 New Mexico – “marriage laws do not explicitly permit or prohibit same-sex marriage, and do not recognize foreign same-sex marriages” (wikipedia)
      #49 Mississippi – constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage
      #50 Arizona – constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage

Comments are closed.