WASHINGTON — This week’s Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were landmark decisions for many of our friends and family members across the nation.
The decision to strike down DOMA and allow gay marriage in California will have significance, even though the court allowed the states the right to choose their own course.
Last year, I wrote a column which I supported gay marriage. One of my reasons for supporting it was because I have friends who are gay and I believe they deserve the right to marry, no matter what state they live in.
When the ruling came down Wednesday, I reached out to them on Facebook, asking how they felt about the court decisions. What I read was a mix of hope and continued fear about what could happen.
“It gave me chills and happy tears,” one friend said, who lives in Illinois with her wife and children. “It means safety, security in older age, security in emergencies. It means no can say we are not a ‘real’ family.”
In Illinois, the effort to recognize gay marriage stalled in the state legislature. My friend felt the state will eventually make it legal.
“With this ruling, I believe those legislators on the fence will be pushed to pass the bill,” she said. “I hope Indiana follows suit. Unfortunately, there are so many anti-gay laws in effect, it will be a bigger fight.”
One of my other friends, who lives in Indiana with her partner and four children, agreed on the hope the striking down of DOMA brings.
“It gives me hope that someday I can legally marry my partner and share the same rights as heterosexual couples,” she wrote. “As of right now, we do not get rights to share benefits.”
What she said next struck me. It reminded me of what we are discussing here is no abstract concept for far-off cities and lands. It’s here and involves real people.
“We each have two kids and if something were to happen to one of us, two of our children would be ripped away from us with no rights to see them. If my partner was in the ICU and unable to make decisions for herself, I am legally not allowed to be with her, the love of my life.
“This decision gives me hope that someday I will not have to worry.”
Once again, I say real people, real situations, real worries. That is how historic this ruling was. But the struggle will continue next year, especially in Indiana.
In Indiana’s next legislative session, legislators will move ahead with House Joint Resolution 6 that would write into the state’s constitution the current ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. If the measure is passed, and it probably will, voters will then make the ultimate decision in the fall of 2014.
Although it may not matter here, polls statewide see the trend shifting towards acceptance of same-sex marriage. The Hoosier Survey, created by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University reported a even divide about same-sex marriage and 55 percent in favor of civil unions.
Hopefully for my friends, our state will see real people and families, rather than continued ignorance.