Two takes on HJR-3

Support for HJR-3

There are many issues that divide the population with each side ready to struggle for what it believes. One such issue is same-sex marriage. In Indiana, the debate is coming to a head with the proposed constitutional amendment House Joint Resolution-3 (formerly HJR-6), which would officially ban all homosexual marriages in the state of Indiana. I am a proponent of this amendment, not for religious reasons, but because of the way  freedoms have been given throughout the history of the United States.

According to freedomindiana.org (a group dedicated to the elimination of HJR-3), their opposition to the bill is that it limits freedom and equality for same-sex couples in Indiana. But that logic is skewed. For many years, many supporters of polygamy (marrying multiple spouses) have fought their cause with the same reasoning of freedom and civil rights, but they have failed. How has this group, with the same reasoning and a similar goal, been entirely unsuccessful when supporters of same-sex marriage have been highly successful? Basically, it comes down to public  support. If the general populous supports an idea, it will be passed no matter what the argument against it is.

That being said, there is a logical argument against same-sex marriage that is not rooted in religious tradition. In the United States, we boast about liberty and justice. But what does that mean? How do we, as Americans, decide what is liberty and what is not? The Civil War was fought to give rights to enslaved people in United States. In the 1910s, women fought for the right to vote. In the 1960s, civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the rights of minorities. Now those struggles are being compared to the struggle for same-sex marriage. There is one key difference. All of those struggles were based on traits that people were born with. At this time, there is no evidence that homosexuality is an inheritable trait. According to a 2007 article Michael Abrams published on discovermagazine.com, Sven Bocklandt, a prominent research scientist, “is quick to point out that most likely there is no single gay gene—no single switch for sexual orientation.”

He continued to say that it was extremely unlikely that any series of inherited genes would decide sexual orientation. In the United States rights are given for two reasons. If some groups of people are born with a trait, or a culture or religion has a tradition of something, then they are given rights based on those traits and traditions. For example, in many churches Holy Communion is taken with real wine, even for people who are under the age of 21, because the tradition of taking communion is thousands of years old. If homosexuality is neither an established cultural or religious tradition and is not an inherited trait, the government is in no way responsible for granting them the rights to fit their choices.

            In the United States you have the right to make whatever choice you want as long as you are willing to face the consequences of that choice. If someone chooses to do something that is against the law, he or she will go to court. If people make a choice that harms themselves, they are the one’s who are harmed. If any two people choose to be in a same-sex relationship, and everyone has that right if they so choose, the consequence is that they may not be legally married and have the same rights as a heterosexual married couple.

 

HJR-3 Cartoon
Cartoon by Kyle Weidner

 

Opposition to HJR-3

I thought the damage was already done. Whether House Joint Resolution-3 passed or not, adding an amendment to the states’ constitution for the sole purpose of stripping people of their rights would be unwelcoming to say the least. So I figured that anyone who had a vested interest in gay rights here in the Hoosier state would be packing their bags and heading for sunnier skies.

I was wrong.

On Jan. 27, I went down to the Indiana Statehouse to snap a few photos for an assignment. The place was packed. Freedom Indiana, a grassroots organization that opposes the amendment, encouraged people to show up wearing red and peacefully protest.

You could hear the crowd’s excitement as more and more people gathered outside the chamber just before the House was set to vote on HJR-3, among a few other bills.

Before the hearing, old friends ran into each other. Some people brought their children. I heard one mother tell another who had a young daughter not to blink or her child would be all grown up. Then the woman hugged her teenage daughter and said, “This is my baby.”

It was all so normal. Except for the protest, it seemed plain mundane—like meeting people at the supermarket. Where was the wild lifestyle to which proponents of HJR-3 refer? Where were the disadvantaged children who do not get the care they need from both a father and a mother? I guess they weren’t invited.

The point is, all of these people were there. And they were there because they care—not just about themselves and their families, but also about their state. They were not at home, packing up their lives and getting ready to move to someplace more welcoming.

These people were just a few of the voices that have spoken out against HJR-3. All across the state, universities and large employers, such as Eli Lilly and Cummins, have said that the amendment would be bad for all of us—not just same-sex couples.

It would slim down the number of talented people who would want to relocate to the state, whether they are gay or simply have a conscience. It also would send others packing if the amendment destroyed competitive same-sex partner benefits offered by Indiana companies such as Eli Lilly, Cummins and Angie’s List.

Although the damage from HJR-3 is already done, whether it passes or not, the only good thing that could come from HJR-3 already has too. And luckily, it does not even require that the amendment pass.

The good thing is that people are engaging their government. Everyone is wondering about the next move, and the biggest shocker is that we are all talking about the legislative process. More Hoosiers than I ever remember care about the things we learned in high school civics classes.

It’s not just those gathered outside of the chambers at the statehouse. It’s people who check the nightly news, read the newspaper and talk about what’s happening with their friends, family and coworkers, at least one of which is probably gay.

Listen, we all know someone who is gay. If you think you do not, then you are lying to yourself or you live in a cave or closet.

I have friends and professors who are gay, and I don’t think anything of it. Because what they do in private affects me as little as what I do in private affects them. That is, not at all.

Once you actually put a human face on the issue, you realize that these battles are not just about sex. The fight over HJR-3—and similar fights over legalizing or banning gay marriage that are happening across the country—is about every person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To legislate against that would be … well, do I really need to say it?