2005 was a monumental year

Advance America's Eric Miller When it comes to gay rights in Indiana, 2005 was a monumental year. The sleeping gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community was finally awakened by the 114th General Assembly’s successful first step toward adding a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex legal unions in Indiana. The move by the assembly put the state’s gay community on the defensive in an unprecedented way, and I found that I was ill prepared for becoming entangled within the archaic madness reminiscent of America’s darker periods in history.

During committee testimony to discuss Senate Joint Resolution 7, the amendment that would ban same-sex marriages, civil unions and all legal incidences of marriage, my mind wandered to the courtroom scenes from the book and movie To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the Depression-era South where an all-white, male jury hears the case against a black man wrongly accused of rape. Despite strong evidence contrary to the accusation, the jury convicts the defendant. The courtroom scene is heart-wrenching as we witness the nonchalance of the white people towards a man’s life hanging in the balance.

While listening to proponents for SJR7, I thought about the courtroom scenes and the parallels between the narrow-minded ignorance of yesterday regarding blacks and the narrow-minded ignorance today regarding homosexuals. The disturbing, primitive and overt legal discrimination of the past has carried over to a different group of people. And isn’t this what it comes down to when you leave the homosexuality-is-innate versus it-is-a-behavior argument behind: singling out a group of people for legalized discrimination.

When I intermittently came back from the courtroom in my mind, I found myself amidst testimony so preposterous that I gripped the table in front of me to keep from screaming. There was the converted gay man who likened homosexuality to alcoholism and, with queen-like bravado, told everyone in the room that he is now happily heterosexual and married with two children. There were praises to Jesus and rousing applause after a black minister told us that we should never compare our perversion to his God-given skin color. There was a woman, seemingly overdosed on Zoloft, who testified that allowing legal unions for homosexuals would mean the end of procreation. Her chaotic speech contained tearful pleas to save the children. Eric Miller’s camp cried yes and amen! In the mix were the occasional declarations that legalizing same-sex unions would lead to people marrying their dogs or other critters.

All the while, those of us who were the targets of this ignorance and bigotry were expected to act as though we were listening to testimony about menu choices for dinner rather than rightfully acting angry and upset about an amendment that would threaten domestic partner benefits, the legal ability to exercise powers of attorney and the future possibility for gays and lesbians to take advantage of benefits afforded to those who can enter into a legal union.

So while we were fighting to keep, at the very least, legal documentation intact between people of the same sex and of the unmarried opposite sex, Senate committee members in favor of SJR7 casually tapped pens and stared at the ceiling. At one point Sen. Brent Waltz awoke from his daydream and said, “I don’t understand why you keep referring to this as discrimination.”

The experience was surreal, sobering and migraine inducing. I thought about how history would treat the moment and I was confident of the answer: not kindly. Yet despite opposition testimony that spoke to the lawmakers about their places in yet another dark chapter in American history, they remained unmoved.

It was during the fight against SJR7 that I learned about the homosexual agenda — something I have been accused of furthering. This so-called agenda, brought up time and again by people like Eric Miller, Micah Clark, Ginny Cain and Earl Salisbury to name a few, has all of us in the gay community scratching our heads. What is this elusive agenda to which these people refer? Do people believe there is a national convention where homosexuals flock and discuss ways to destroy traditional families, stop procreation, recruit heterosexuals, spread HIV/AIDS and molest children? Is there a copy of this agenda that we can use to categorically dispel the myths being used against us?

A homosexual agenda is a fairy tale and debunking it is an up-a-mountain challenge in Indiana for those of us who want nothing more than to keep our sexual orientations and gender identities from legally sublimating us to second-class citizenship.

A good step toward pulling Hoosier gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people out of the second-class citizenship mode and rounding out a particularly arduous year for gay rights in the state was the passage of Proposition 622, an amendment to the Indianapolis-Marion County Human Rights ordinance that will include sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination language. Those of us in the gay community were able to end 2005 on a celebratory note. But rest assured that as the fair-minded people of Indiana take a bit of comfort in a small victory that may move the state further along toward progression, Eric Miller and Micah Clark are donning their armor, sharpening their magic swords and mounting their unicorns in preparation for their biggest fight yet against the homosexual agenda in Indiana.

Pepper Partin is a writer and an activist.


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