In October 2014, Indiana was legally required to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals noted, “Marriage confers respectability on a sexual relationship; to exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status.“ That coveted status particularly affects the children born or adopted during the course of the same-sex marriage. Marriage not only provides the child with the financial benefits and stability of two parents but also provides an emotional benefit. From the case:
“Consider now the emotional comfort that having married parents is likely to provide to children adopted by same-sex couples. … [T]he parents can tell the child truthfully that an adult is permitted to marry a person of the opposite sex, or if the adult prefers as some do a person of his or her own sex, but that either way the parents are married and therefore the child can feel secure in being the child of a married couple. Conversely, imagine the parents having to tell their child that same-sex couples can’t marry, and so the child is not the child of a married couple, unlike his classmates.”
I was one of the attorneys who litigated the same-sex marriage issue in Indiana. My clients were married female first responders, whose female spouses and children would not receive the same benefits if killed in the line of duty as would the female spouses of male first responders killed in the line of duty. Their children would not receive the same benefits as would the children of a first responder wife and her husband.
When we won the case, I truly thought the issue had been resolved. I had watched my clients and my gay friends raising their families, worrying about what would happen to their families if something happened to them and their dealing with the constant daily reminder of their second-class status as a couple. At last, I thought, these families will have protection. Little did I know how long the fight would continue.
Shockingly, there are Republican leaders who are still fighting against recognizing families headed by a married same-sex couple. On June 9, the delegates to the Indiana Republic Convention overwhelmingly voted to retain the current platform language which states: “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society.”
The list of those supporting this language reads like a who’s who of Republican politics: Senate candidate Mike Braun, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, congressman Todd Rokita, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Indiana Senate Majority Floor Leader-Elect Mark Messmer, Pence 2016 Indiana Campaign Chairman Rex Early, 10 Indiana state senators and 23 Indiana state representatives, just to name a few.
For the full list, check out www.republicanvictorycommittee.com, complete with letters from Braun and Hill.
The Grand Old Party proclaims it is the party of family values. Shame on you for insisting that the only strong families are those headed by a man and a woman. Shame on you for sticking your heads in the sand and refusing to recognize that families are not defined by the genitalia of the two people who lead it. Shame on you for wanting to continue to stigmatize these families and their children. Shame.•
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Celestino-Horseman is an attorney and represents the Indiana Latino Democratic Caucus on the Democratic State Central Committee.