INDIANAPOLIS-Ind. It’s safe to say that absolute mayhem could begin within the next couple of months.
This upcoming legislative session, which starts in January, marks the possibility for a huge change in Indiana. The Senate and House of Representatives will vote on whether an amendment banning same sex marriage will be added to the ballot as a referendum in 2014.
This is not new for members of the Indiana Government, but it is eye opening for many residents throughout the state. This amendment has been proposed every year since 2004. However in 2011, the Indiana legislature approved of the bill. If the General Assembly passes the bill again, it will go to the ballots in the fall.
The name for the amendment is HJR-6. The precise definition for HJR-6, according to in.gov.com, is that the amendment provides that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. It provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
With almost everything in this debate being rather grey, one thing is clear; a plethora of money will be put into this controversy. It is projected that each side, those who are for it and those who are against, will put in about $50 million. On a WFYI radio show No Limits with John Krull, it was said that Freedom Indiana was prepared to put over $15 million into the fight to defeat HJR-6.
This is a very troublesome time for most Hoosiers, and is starting a lot of hoopla across the state. With the state of Indiana being fully dominated by Republicans, many people are against the idea of same sex marriage. But there is also a great deal of people who don’t care for the subject. It is found that ages 40 and older have a problem with same sex marriage, while the next generation does not care for it as much.
While many are baffled by HJR-6, freshman at Purdue University Shafer Stellema, 19, understands the opposing side.
“I think that people just have a hard time accepting something that is different to them. Even I judge people who are not like me so I can see where they are coming from,” Stellema said.
Stellema has known he was gay since middle school, but wasn’t publically gay until the summer of his senior year. Stellema was nervous about opening up to his family because his mom is a very serious Catholic and looks down upon same sex marriage. It has always been an inner battle for Stellema.
“I have always known and my close friends knew in high school, but I didn’t tell my parents until summer of my senior year because I knew they would kick me out of the house,” Stellema said.
Stellema believes the HJR-6 debate is nonsense and won’t have an immense impact on his life when it’s all said and done.
“I personally think that if I truly love someone and want to be with them forever I don’t need to get married to them,” Stellema said. “Marriage would be nice, but as long as we both are faithful I don’t think a piece of paper will make a big difference.”
That statement will make citizens like Mitchell Sorrells, a freshman at Franklin College, very happy.
“Same sex marriage just makes me uncomfortable. It literally grosses me out and makes me uncomfortable to see a man kiss another man in public. Even when they’re just holding hands I can’t stand it,” Sorrells said.
However, Sorrells did say that he was born in an area of Indiana (Brookville) where same sex anything is just wrong. He grew up in a very blue-collar area and can’t help the fact he believes same sex marriage is wrong.
While Sorrells is extremely anti-same sex marriage, freshman at Franklin College Sam Pollock is against the idea of it, but is more lenient about the topic. Pollock believes that the impression of same sex marriage is morally wrong, but if HJR-6 goes to the ballots and gets shot down he will accept that because it is the overall state opinion.
Stellema said that he has been through many struggles because of his sexuality. When he first believed he was gay he looked down on it. He was in middle school and was trying to fit in with the popular group and he never saw gay people in the popular group, so he told himself he couldn’t be gay. Stellema also felt that in high school most guys were not his friend because they thought he was some kind of raging homosexual that would instantly come on to them.
Yet his difficulties did not end in high school. While rushing for a fraternity at Purdue, a member of that fraternity told Stellema he didn’t get a bid, an invite into the fraternity, because he was gay.
“I think that people have so many preconceived notions about gay people that they have a horrifying image built up in their head. There are some very open gay people and more power to them, but trust me there are normal people that are gay too,” Stellema said.
Stellema’s headaches weren’t only at the hand of his classmates. Stellema and his mother never got along in high school, and he contributes that to being gay. He didn’t open up to his parents until after high school because he was told that since he didn’t follow his mother’s values he would have to find somewhere else to live.
They were involved in violent fights, and when he came out to her they had to be separated by his dad.
“It is hard when your own family looks down on you, but I just keep telling myself that they don’t understand. My mom feels that I will not live a full life so I want to prove to her that I can live a perfectly normal life,” Stellema said.
However, Stellema does not blame his mother for her perceptions.
“My mother is a very serious Catholic and she thinks that my life decisions go against God, but I cannot blame her for her beliefs,” Stellema said. “Instead I can try and convince her that my decisions are not an abomination and if she is willing to accept that then good, but if not we will just have different opinions.”
When the topic of same sex marriage is introduced many people perceive that it is biblically wrong. Sorrells and Pollock are prime examples of this. Sorrells said that he is a Catholic and the religion aspect of it most upsets him. Pollock also said that one main reason he is against the idea of same sex marriage is because he believes it isn’t biblically correct.
Franklin College campus minister, Rev. David Weatherspoon said that some people take a very literal approach to the biblical interpretation.
“There are some problems with a very literal translation. There are literal texts that state if your child disobeys you should bash the babies heads and we obviously don’t accept that,” Weatherspoon said. “We’ve learned to think about some other things that we’re not so literal on, why can’t we do that about same sex marriage?”
Weatherspoon said that he does believe there are segments of churches that disapprove of same sex marriage, but he knows quite a few churches that are open and confirming as well.
“I think that we often lump too many people together while I would say that there are a large number of folks that are opposed, there are quite a few that are more in favor,” Weatherspoon said.
Weatherspoon has a robust, negative opinion towards HJR-6.
“I find it morally and practically unconstitutional. I very much disagree with the ban,” Weatherspoon said. “We have to be able to live in context with one another when people have different viewpoints. When you’re telling people that love each other that they can’t be together I have a big problem, that’s not society, that is a step too far.”
Even though he is against the ban, Weatherspoon is not surprised by the controversy. He said that people always make a big deal about sexuality, that we’ve out lawed a variety of things that have to do with sex.
“Sex has always been the one piece of the puzzle that there’s always been huge feelings towards and anything that is considered different than the mainstream is always looked on negatively,” Weatherspoon said. “I just think it’s one of those things that people come uncomfortable with because it is uncommon, but once people realize that it is not as uncommon as they perceive they will start to accept it.”
Another fuss on same sex marriage, much like how it is perceived to be biblically incorrect, is that it would impact the true meaning of marriage.
“I completely believe that same sex marriage would effect the meaning of marriage because people were put on this Earth to reproduce. Gay marriage cannot make that happen. Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman, that’s what God made marriage to be like,” Sorrells said.
Pollock is in agreement with Sorrells, but he is more focused on the kids. Pollock thinks that it would impact the meaning of marriage, but more importantly than that it would make an awkward situation for kids. He said that kids are going to feel unwelcomed and will be discriminated against by their peers if they only have a dad and a dad or a mom and a mom.
Stellema was very understanding to Pollock’s assumption, but thinks it’s better to have two parents, even if they are the same sex, than having one.
“Some people say that it will denigrate their presumptions of marriage, but personally I think that has no grounds because the divorce rate is at a very high rate. Clearly what we are currently doing now isn’t working,” Stellema said.
When all the facts have been said, the argument of HJR-6 just comes down to opinion. Stellema believes that the residents of Indiana will vote in favor of HJR-6 because the state tends to be very conservative, but all dreams are not lost.
“The conservatives and Republicans usually are associated with the Catholic church so the new pope, who is considered to be very liberal, gives me some hope,” Stellema said.
Throughout all of this, one thing Stellema wants people to understand is that not all gay people are much different from the so-called norm. Stellema said even though people are gay, they have much of the same characteristics of people who are not.
“I think that when people think of gays they get an image of the guy in ass-less chaps and a pink thong at a gay pride parade and that is what makes others, and me, uncomfortable,” Stellema said. “People don’t actually know gay people. I promise that we are normal. Not every gay person follows all the stereotypes that society has made.”