David Hoppe

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:: Gay marriage bash(ing)

Indiana flips (and flops)

by David Hoppe

What a weekend it wasn’t.

Over a break when many gay couples should have been celebrating their finally having the chance to declare their love and commitment for one another through marriage, the State of Indiana chose to blow a loud and particularly acrid raspberry.

As we all know by now, U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional on Wednesday, June 25. This was news gay couples had been waiting for, in some cases, for decades.

My friends Van Kirby and Dan Detrick have been together for over 40 years. I helped Van write his memoir, On the Table By the Window: The Journey of a Gay Dad In Indiana, about fighting for, and winning, custody of his four kids. That court battle took place in 1976. Today Van and Dan are great grandparents.

On Thursday night, the day after Judge Young’s ruling, I spoke to Van on the phone. He sounded elated and exhausted. That morning he and Dan had gotten up at 5 a.m., looked at one another, and decided to go down to City Hall to complete the circle of their lives together.

Van had told me he didn’t want to get married unless it could be in Indiana. He considers this his place; it’s where he came of age, created a successful business, and found Dan, his soulmate.

Van and Dan are a true partnership. They’ve shared victories and defeats, cared for each other in sickness and in health. Their relationship doesn’t need to be sanctioned by the state; its validity speaks for itself.

In fact, you could say that, by their example, Van and Dan bring more to the meaning of marriage in the State of Indiana than the State of Indiana brings to them.

They were fifth in the line that formed in front of County Clerk Beth White on June 26. There were jokes about the suddenly outdated rigamarole regarding who was supposed to be “husband” and whom the “wife.” In a few minutes the deed was done. Van and Dan were as hitched as any other married couple in this woebegone state.

Even then, Van couldn’t help feeling somewhat dubious about the whole thing. He said it felt a little like they were being served crumbs from Indiana’s table. There’d been no time to anticipate the kind of celebration most marriages inspire. Better to get married quickly, before Indiana bared its teeth.

Sure enough, Indiana bit. On Friday night, Attorney General Greg Zoeller did Gov. Mike Pence’s bidding and got a stay from a Court of Appeals in Chicago. Van and Dan may have lived together for over 40 years, but their Indiana marriage lasted less than 48 hours.

This bas been proclaimed as being good news by those who say marriage must be defended, who claim that Indiana’s sanction of Van and Dan’s relationship somehow infringes on their religious freedom.

But for everybody else, the State’s reaction looks and smells like bigotry. It stinks.