Toward less discrimination in Indiana

Supreme Court StepsI wish that we lived in a world where the legitimacy of a personal relationship commitment wasn't connected to whether or not a given government or institution was willing to recognize it as such. I wish that the sanctity and significance of marriage or other forms of commitment were derived solely from the care, intention and hard work that its participants (perhaps including their families, friends and surrounding community) invested to make and maintain those vows.

But that is not the world we live in, at least not anymore, or yet. For now, we ask and allow our state and federal governments, religious institutions and cultural leaders to tell us what kinds of personal relationship commitments are legitimate and what kinds are not.

As someone living in a U.S. state where the law and prevailing institutional opinion has long excluded anything other than marriage "between one man and one woman" as legitimate, it means I've had to watch a lot of people I care about have their personal relationship commitments relegated to second class status (at best) and be discriminated against in painful, sometimes violent ways. As an employer and someone interested in quality of life as it relates to economic development, it means I've had to watch competent, qualified professional people who also happen to be gay decide that they needed to leave their job or city to find a place less willing to discriminate against them and their peers. It means I've heard too many stories of people who wanted to give of their time and talent to various spiritual, charitable and community-building organizations being told that they were not welcome in those places because of who or how they choose to love. And in witnessing the ignorance, hate, fear and/or closed-mindedness that has fueled this discrimination, I've not yet seen anything remotely convincingly good or useful come out of the simplistic refrain about protecting a more narrow definition of marriage.

So, while I wish I could say that this week's court ruling that Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional should be inconsequential in establishing the true legitimacy of a relationship commitment, I know that it's not that simple, and that it would be an abuse of my own significant privilege under that same legal system to do so.

Instead, I welcome the decision and its implications for residents of Indiana in retrieving their civil rights around who they choose to marry.

I celebrate it as a huge step forward in trying to create a world with less discrimination, hate and "fear of the other who is not like me."

I congratulate the various advocacy and education organizations that have worked hard to win this particular battle, knowing there are many more ahead.

I encourage the administrators in my own county to swiftly facilitate the issuing of marriage licenses under the expanded legal definition of marriage this ruling demands.

Selfishly, I hope it means that there will be fewer times in the future where I have to watch a LGBTQ friend experience the pain of intolerance coming from people and institutions in the place I call home.

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