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July 1, 2013

STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Lawmakers want vote on gay marriage

INDIANAPOLIS — Chances are good that someone you know and love is gay.

That’s the reality that Indiana lawmakers may need to face in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and the coming political battle in Indiana to enshrine a separate status for gay people into our state constitution.

When Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in the historic decision striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, said the constitution’s guarantee of equality extended even to a “politically unpopular” group of Americans, he was writing about people you know and love.

Twenty years ago, you may not have admitted that was so. Most people didn’t, according to a 1994 poll by CNN that found less than one-third of those surveyed reported having a close relationship with a gay or lesbian person.

When CNN pollsters asked that question again six years ago, the number went up to 45 percent. When they asked it again a year ago, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they had a close friend or family member who is gay.

The number — which will only go up in years to come — is rising because of the many someones we know and love who’ve come out the closet.

Indiana lawmakers know that. But whether they’ll admit it is something else. Just minutes after the DOMA ruling and a decision in a companion case out of California that upheld that state’s same-sex marriage law, Republican leaders in the Statehouse signaled their intentions to revive the same-sex marriage ban amendment in Indiana.

In press releases, they said they interpreted the court’s decision as clearing the way for the General Assembly to move ahead on House Joint Resolution 6, known as HJR 6. The resolution would write Indiana’s current ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions into the constitution if approved by voters.

The legislature already voted on it once, back in 2011. But the resolution has to be approved again to get on the November 2014 ballot.

When HJR 6 was stalled earlier this year, pending the high court’s decisions, I had Republican and Democrat legislators alike who voted for it last time tell me that someone they know and love is gay. I heard stories — told only on the promise they wouldn’t be reported — of beloved siblings, much loved nephews, favorite cousins and dear friends who were not only gay but who were living in loving relationships.

“Then why not the oppose HJR6?” I would ask. And the off-the-record answer, almost always, had to do with politics and their perception that a “no” vote would harm them in their next campaign. On the record, they’d duck the question and say: Hoosiers should have the right to vote on it. Expect to hear that line, again and again, in the months to come.

Someone I know and love is gay: my “baby” brother, who is one of the nine O’Connor siblings raised by my Catholic parents in a long-lived traditional marriage.

That brother and his partner of 28 years have what I and the rest of my siblings believe is the happiest and healthiest of relationships of all of us. It’s certainly one of the longest and most stable in the family.

Earlier this month, they officially tied the knot when marriage equality finally became law in the place where they live. For the life of me, I don’t understand how that commitment to each other does anything to undermine the institution of marriage.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.

hayden@indianamedia

group.com.

 

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  • Grave.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    Unchecked tears rolled down Paul Martin’s lined face as he clutched the hand of an Air Force servicewoman who handed him a handwritten note at the graveside service for his older brother.
    The note said simply it was an honor to attend the burial of Airman 3rd Class Howard E. Martin six decades after the Globemaster miliary transport plane he was on crashed into the side of an Alaskan glacier.
    Hundreds of people in this small central Indiana town lined the streets and attended the full military services for Howard Martin, one of 17 servicemen’s remains reccovered recently among the 52 people who died in the Nov. 22, 1952, tragedy on Mount Gannett 50 miles east of Anchorage.
    The wreckage remained submerged beneath the snow and ice of the Colony Glacier until 2012 when it was spotted by an Alaska National Guard helicopter crew. It took another two years to retrieve the remains and send them home to their families.
    Howard Martin was 21 years old at the time of the nighttime crash; his remains were identified on April 18, 2014, exactly 83 years from the date of his birth.
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    Niece Rusti Koons said she was touched by the large community turnout for her uncle’s funeral and burial. “It was very overwhelming,” she said. “I have never seen such support.”
    Jane Buttry, 76, of Elwood, holding an American flag, was among residents who stood along the funeral procession route to the cemetery.
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    Traci Moyer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin of Anderson, Ind. Contact
    her at tmoyer@heraldbulletin.com.

    See more at: www.cnhinews.com/cnhins_news/x1736709860/Airman-laid-to-rest-back-home-in-Indiana-six-decades-after-death#sthash.wWekbSlj.dpuf.


     

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  • Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments

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  • united way.jpg UW kicks off pilot campaign

    Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

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  • MET 071014 181 HILL.jpg Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential

    Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

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  • Detour ahead

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