Monday, December 8, 2014

In 2014, Indiana Was For (All) Lovers (#ThinkKit Day8)

#ThinkKit Day 8:

Rants & Raves

Get on your soapbox. What issue, idea, or stance were you vocal about this year? Or did you let it internally build up? Was there an event, person, or time that triggered your strong reaction? Or was it a slow-burn? Why do you feel so strongly – is it personal? Emotional? Strictly reasonable?

Show us some passion – make your argument from the mountaintop! 

There's no quibbling about it, this was the year of same sex marriage. If you live in Indiana, there was no way you could have missed it. It started with the HJR-3 hearings on a bill to ban same sex marriage through the Indiana Constitution. I was completely wowed at the turnout of people. I took the photo below at the first hearing. At the time I was working just across the street, so I scuttled over not long before they were scheduled to start. The gallery had been full for hours, and the photo I took was from the packed lobby, where I stood, watching the proceedings on the monitors just outside. The crowd was almost entirely people who supported same sex marriage. I say almost because I saw one group quickly ushered in through the side, but they wore no identifying buttons or shirts, and carried no signs. They were keeping a low profile because all of a sudden, banning same sex marriage was being on the wrong side of history, and I think they knew it. Large corporations like Eli Lilly and Cummins testified that banning same sex marriage in the Indiana Constitution would make our state worse off, and it was incredible to hear.

I remember back in high school, the first time I ever heard someone talk about same sex marriage. That will never happen in my lifetime, I thought, watching Ellen come out on TV, then lose her show soon afterward. I assumed I would never have the option to get married. Now look at where we are! Teenage me would never have believed how far we have come in the fifteen-ish years since then. 

We scored a victory this year at the legislature by kicking the can down the road and keeping the amendment vote off the 2014 ballot. But it wouldn't stop at keeping the marriage ban from getting worse. We didn't just want to be less put upon, we wanted to get married. Immediately four lawsuits were filed in federal court alleging that keeping us from getting married violated the U.S. Constitution. And we won! Beth White immediately started marrying people at the Marion County City-County Building. I was in the building the second day, and I was moved to tears by the long line of couples patiently waiting to get married. It had actually happened in my home state! I got all weepy a whole bunch of times, sometimes out of frustration, but mostly from happiness, throughout the legal process of court decisions, stays, appeals, victories, more stays, and finally a decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal, which meant marriage was here for real and for good. 

This year was incredible. I learned a lot about the legislative process. I called and wrote the Governor, and my representatives, to plead my case. I even phone banked, an activity that terrified introverted me as we cold called people to ask for their support and more often than not got hung up on. Some legislative shenanigans had to happen to ensure that they even voted on it at all, moving the vote to a new committee where they knew they had the votes to get it out of committee and onto the floor. That told me that even the most conservative of people were changing their minds, or at least realizing that theirs was no longer the dominant perspective. This was the year I saw my neighbors posting signs of support in their yards, I heard Macklemore on the radio rapping about same sex marriage, I saw the huge crowds at rallies and hearings saying it was time to let us get married. I felt more at home here in my native state of Indiana than I ever had before. We still have a ways to go here in Indy, but this year we came a hell of a long way.