–By Allen Hutson
Indiana Republican legislators took another step closer to a giant leap backwards Wednesday night. The Indiana House Elections and Apportionments Committee heard public testimony on a placing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the 2014 ballot. A few hundred protestors stood watching the testimony from inside the capitol’s rotunda.
Wednesday’s four-hour hearing was the second in as many weeks. The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the same bill on Monday, January 13th, but due to concerns that the bill didn’t have the votes to get out of that committee, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma shifted the bill to the more conservative Elections and Apportionments Committee.
The highlight of Wednesday’s hearing was the testimony of Carol Trexler, a small, bald woman in her early sixties. Carol began her testimony by describing how she and her partner spent thousands of dollars crafting contracts creating some marriage-like benefits. She carries copies in her car to present at hospital visits to ensure her partner is able to make medical decisions for Carol if she isn’t able. Carol described how important the word marriage is to her. Doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, family, and friends don’t understand how to treat a couple who has contracted for a marriage-like relationship. They don’t understand the meaning of dozens of legal contracts engineering marriage-like benefits. They understand what marriage is, and they know how to treat a married couple.
The bill to put the amendment up for popular vote passed the committee 9-3 with every Republican supporting it. Fortunately, the committee vote isn’t the last hurdle before the referendum; it now faces a vote on the floor of the House Monday, and if passed, it will continue on to the Indiana Senate.
Carol ended her testimony with two moving admissions. She was subdued as she described the added difficulty of making end-of-life plans when the state doesn’t recognize your partner as your spouse. She was emotional when she explained her feelings about the amendment. Carol testified against it just hours after undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer.
Individuals craft plans and organize their lives in pursuit of their dreams – no matter how ordinary those dreams may be. Whether it is a beach vacation, a new car, a better home in a better neighborhood, or winning a battle with cancer, people pursue their dreams with the ones they love. Marriage is an institution that describes the union between two people, and how they, as a union, interact with society as they pursue their dreams. It is a long-standing social institution, and social institutions that survive adapt.
Same-sex couples like Carol and her partner live their lives together just like my parents do. They are involved in their community in the same way my brother and sister-in-law are. They pursue their dreams just like my wife and I do. They are married, and it is time that the state of Indiana and the Republican Party recognize it.