My friends, I ask you today to consider Indiana House Joint Resolution 6, a bill before the Indiana legislature that would amend our state constitution to ban the recognition of any same sex partnership. The text of the bill reads:
Provides that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
I know many of my friends will agree with the first statement. Marriage is a religious term, and for you, you would prefer that the state not use this term in recognizing same-sex unions. While I disagree, I would like to instead focus your attention on the second sentence. The second sentence bars any same sex couple from enjoying the rights assigned to a married heterosexual couple under any name. I have spoken to many of you who oppose the government recognizing same-sex couples as married. In all cases that I remember, those who feel this way have had no issue with recognizing a same-sex couple as a civil union. The language of this bill would specifically deny those rights of married couples to a same-sex couple even if they agreed to call their relationship a civil union.
What does this mean for same-sex couples? There are a variety of rights that married couples enjoy that will be explicitly denied to these couples. Among these rights:
- Filing of joint taxes
- Veteran's disability
- Domestic violence intervention
- Joint parenting rights
- Permission to make funeral arrangements for deceased spouse, including burial or cremation
- Right to inheritance of property
- Next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions or filing wrongful death claims
Many of my friends feel that same-sex marriage is acceptable, and I agree with you. Many of my friends feel that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the rights of married couples, but should be assigned a different term from their religious definition of marriage, such as civil union. I am not aware of any of my friends who feel that same-sex couples should be specifically denied the rights assigned to their married counterparts. I am pleading with you today to consider the impact of this bill on same-sex couples in Indiana. I am pleading with you to contact your state representative and let them know that this bill does not represent your thoughts on the rights of same-sex couples.