By Steffane Christian, January 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS--JJ Gufreda has been married to the same woman for 32 years. They took their vows in Cleveland in 1977 and seven years later moved to Indiana, where Gufreda became president of GEI Incorporated and a board member of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce.
Around 20 years later, JJ Marie Gufreda became a woman.
"I'm transgender," said Gufreda, "I was considered male for most of my life, and when the transgender issues started happening my wife and I had a lot of work to do."
The Gufredas have three children, all grown, and continue to live the lifestyle as close as possible to the one they lived three years ago.
"We've stayed devoted to each other and try to maintain the marriage and stay the family that we've always been," said Gufreda.
Gufreda attended the Indiana Equality Action event Wednesday in opposition of Senate Joint Resolution 13, which passed the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee last week, 6-4.
As of right now, SJR 7 allows Indiana to legally recognize gay, lesbian, and transgender marriages, but the marriage is not recognized if the ceremony takes place in the state.
If SJR 13 replaces SJR 7 in its current terms, same-sex marriages, such as Gufreda's, will not continue to be legally recognized in Indiana.
"For me, personally, I don't want the government to be able to dissolve my marriage," said Gufreda, "we were married before God and man. A lot of things have changed, but no one has the right to take that away."
The Indiana Equality Action Committee issued a media release Wednesday declaring SJR 13 as the "Marriage Discrimination Amendment."
The release read:
"Our elected legislators should concern themselves with solutions to get people back to work and not passing legislation that would dampen Indiana's recovery from the current recession. Instead of offering solutions to the real problems Indiana families are facing, proponents of SJR 13 are taking time on an unnecessary and damaging amendment to our Constitution, infringing on people's human dignity."
Neither Sen. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, nor Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, responded immediately to requests for comment.
Gufreda said she is in the process of writing a book about her journey.
"If this goes through," said Gufreda, "it would be good for my book and bad for me personally."
SJR 13 is scheduled for second reading in the Senate Thursday.