Governor O’Bannon has now signed the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," relieving those who see recognition of gay unions as a threat to western civilization. Whatever the pros and cons of "gay marriage"–and there is no uniformity on that…
Governor O’Bannon has now signed the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," relieving those who see recognition of gay unions as a threat to western civilization. Whatever the pros and cons of "gay marriage"–and there is no uniformity on that score within the gay community itself–it is worth noting that discrimination against gay citizens has not evoked any response from the same lawmakers who were galvanized into action by the notion that "those people" might actually be allowed to make a public committment to love, honor and cherish each other.
Anti-gay bias manifests itself in a number of ways in Indiana, from physical abuse which government does not sanction (but often winks at) to discrimination built right into the fabric of our laws. Statistics on physical assaults do not reveal the dimensions of that problem; many gays–perhaps most–simply do not report incidents of gay bashing. Many of the victims are still in the closet, or disinclined for professional or business reasons to call attention to their orientation; furthermore, police response when reports are filed has not been uniformly helpful, to put it mildly.
I have a good friend whose house was vandalized repeatedly. Spray paint was used to write "faggot, we don’t want you in the neighborhood" on his garage door; his tires were slashed several times; he received threatening phone calls. The police did absolutely nothing. He finally moved.
More frustrating are the numerous cases where people have been fired from their jobs for being gay; or denied housing because they are gay. In Indiana, if an employer decides to fire someone solely based on that individual’s sexual orientation, he or she can do so with impunity. We all know of cases where a prospective employer has said very candidly, "We don’t hire sissies here" or used similarly derogatory phrases to reject a candidate for employment. Such behavior is perfectly legal in Indiana.
Worst of all, in some ways, are the systemic forms of discrimination gay people experience. I have a friend who has been in a committed relationship for thirty-two years; he cannot file taxes jointly, put his partner on his health insurance, designate his partner as recipient of his Social Security survivor benefits, inherit from him in the absence of a will, or even visit him in the hospital without a power of attorney. I have another friend who has been told that he and his partner cannot purchase a "household" insurance policy because they are not married. So while my husband and I can get a discount for two cars (without, as I recall, having to provide proof of the legality of our relationship) they must pay a higher premium for their coverage.
In the absence of any legislative discussion about the "morality" of such discrimination, it is hard to see passage of the "Defense of Marriage" Act as anything other than an official statement that gays should continue to be second-class citizens.