Maureen Hayden: Chances are you know someone who's gay
Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:32 PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Chances are good that someone you know and love is gay.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
releases, 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.
legislature already voted on it once, back in 2011. But the resolution
has to get OK’d again to get on the November 2014 ballot.
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.
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.
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
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 in Indiana. She can be reached at