Indiana’s Vote to Outlaw Civil Unions is Totally Not Targeting Gays

A proposed amendment to Indiana law would make same-sex marriage even more illegal than it already is!

The amendment not only defines marriage as between a man and a woman but prevents civil unions on the grounds that a status “substantially similar” to marriage, but not marriage, is not valid.

Yesterday, the Indiana House Judiciary Committee approved the amendment in an 8-4 vote along party lines. The legislation will now go to the full House, which is currently GOP-controlled, for consideration (If it passes, it will have to be approved by both another separately elected legislature and a voter referendum).

This is the eighth year the amendment has been considered. Even if it passes at every level and in a referendum, the earliest it could be applied to the Indiana constitution would be 2014.

According to the Chicago Tribune,

“Amendment supporters said traditional heterosexual marriage is best for raising children, and stress that the amendment is needed to prevent courts from overturning the Indiana state law that already forbids gay marriage.

Rep. Dave Cheatham, a Democrat from North Vernon who is one of the sponsors of the amendment, said marriage is so important that the state’s constitution should be amended to protect it.

‘This is a foundational, fundamental issue,’ he said.

Micah Clark, a director with the American Family Association of Indiana, said homosexuals are the minority and shouldn’t have the right to redefine marriage for the people of Indiana.

‘If any two people can marry, then marriage does not mean much,’ he said.”

According to 365 gay, state Senator Carlin Yoder, the Republican who wrote the bill, doesn’t believe it targets gay people:

“I firmly believe in the sacred definition of marriage as Indiana has always known it, as it is written in statute. This is not in any way an attack on the gay and lesbian community. By doing this, we are not taking away any rights from the gay and lesbian community in Indiana.”

It’s difficult to take away rights someone doesn’t have, but also: seriously? Yes, the amendment would impact straight couples who have opted for civil unions instead of marriage, but the strongest impact is still on gays and lesbians. 29 states currently have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while only 5 allow it. An additional 14 have state laws against gay marriage. Indiana, however, is the only one actively working backwards.

In 2005, a similar ban was passed by similarly Republican-controlled state Houses but failed when the Democrats took over in 2006. While support for same-sex marriage in Indiana has increased by 15 percentage points since 1996, it’s still at only 37%. This makes the possibility of a referendum frankly depressing. Let’s hope it doesn’t make it that far.

Furthermore, Governor Mitch Daniels says this was NOT ON HIS AGENDA. Nor was the debate on abortion restrictions that followed the gay marriage talk:

Both measures are departures from Gov. Mitch Daniels’ legislative agenda. The governor has made it clear he would rather legislators focus on finance and policy matters, such as education reform, than social issues.

So far, his fellow Statehouse Republicans have ignored his recommendation.

But he has reiterated that viewpoint when talking national politics. In two recent interviews, he recommended the country call a “truce” on social issues and that Americans “sort of mute” that debate.

Indiana is considered by some to be in the Bible Belt, but Bloomington, Indiana is regularly named as one of the best places to be gay in the country:

This forward-thinking college town is a magnet city for gays in the Grain Belt. It’s also home to Indiana University, where Miss Gay IU—said to be the first student-sponsored drag competition held on any campus—is in its 20th year. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is also here, inspiring the entire town to be heteroflexible.

Some schools in Indiana have had a tough time with gay bullying lately but that there’s more acceptance these days. The problem is that [schools] have a very vocal minority.” Apparently the same holds true for the state’s government.

Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 958 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. “If any two people can marry, then marriage does not mean much.”

    I know this is just some guy whose view I will not change, and that I am preaching to the choir, but that sentence makes me exceedingly angry so excuse my rant.

    Marriage is not some sort of exclusive club with a secret membership list. Practically ANYONE, provided they are interested in marrying someone of the opposite sex, can get married. This includes accidentally pregnant teenagers, drunken Vegas hookups, elderly people, you name it and they can probably get married. There are no value judgements placed on marriage. You don’t have to pass a test for it to happen. Restricting marriage to maintain its exclusive nature is a ridiculous argument and should be mocked for it.

    • Agreed… The people ruining the “sanctity” of marriage (I would rant about how marriage was never all that holy or loveydovey in its original context, and that the last two hundred years have seen the definition of marriage go into a metaphorical tailspin, but that’s a rant for another comment) are NOT teh gays, but rather the drunken Vegas ceremonies, the teenagers marrying to cover an accidental pregnancy, etc.

  2. “Indiana, however, is the only one actively working backwards.”

    Yes, that… Just one more reason why I have long given up hope for any chance of my sticking around this state post-graduation… Hmph.

  3. “Amendment supporters said traditional heterosexual marriage is best for raising children”

    KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR RAISING CHILDREN? A loving, stable home, filled with RESPECT and FORGIVENESS. THAT’S what makes a true family. What lies between the legs of the parent(s) (GUESS WHAT, SINGLE PARENTS CAN BE FANTASTIC TOO) DOES NOT MATTER.

  4. I’m from Indiana and had no idea this was going on today. The Gov did earn a tiny bit of my respect by saying it wasn’t even on his agenda. I honestly don’t think most people here are even all that concerned with gay people getting married right now so once the GOP is full of shit on this issue.

    I live in Indianapolis, and next to Bloomington, I find it to be getting better as far as gay execeptibility is concerned. Especially amongst the younger group who counterprotest alot of the bigoted behavior that does occur. We also stopped putting up with the Klan here a long time ago. Good luck in the rest of the state though. You couldn’t pay me to live outside of this city.

    As far as bullying goes, it’s awful pretty much across the board here. Not even just for the gay kids. Bullies get very little punishment so there’s really no incentive not to be an asshole in school. One of the biggest stories in the state a few months ago involved the 4 high school athletes who physically and possibly sexually hazed another student so badly that they were brought up on charges but it looks like they are basically going to get a slap on the wrist when all is said and done.

  5. As someone living in Indiana, this is noticeably absent from media coverage. I honestly believe that’s because it’s seen as more bluster and gesturing as it has been for several years now.
    The big stories today are pursuing an Arizona-like immigration policy,and Daniel’s overhaul of the education system. He doesn’t want to deal with this issue because he’s got two big fights ahead of him with these, and he really hasn’t had a huge battle since the beginning of his first term.

    Really, as far as Republicans go, he ain’t that bad because he really has not fucked around much with social issues. There’s been shit for advancement, but as noted, you’ve got some very scared and very vocal people screaming to run backwards at a break neck speed.

    Friends of mine would disagree heartily though that he “ain’t that bad.” The fact that he has focused on financial issues also means that he’s gutted programs…though I can attest that my trip to the bureau of motor vehicles is like a breeze now. It borders on almost being pleasant.

  6. Douchebag politicians, get a life and quit crawling up my ass. I have an actual job where I contribute something to the community. What do you do? Blow smoke up people’s ass on my dime? We’d all be better off if you never showed up for work ever again.

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