All across the country, same-sex marriage bans are falling like dominoes. Here in Indiana, we received the wonderful news on Monday. I woke up late so I didn't find out until mid-afternoon. Needless to say, I was thrilled! I had been working to help defeat a proposed state constitutional ban of same-sex marriage for almost ten years; friends of mine have been involved longer than that.
This past winter I, along with thousands of supporters of Marriage Equality, spent countless hours making phone calls and writing letters to our legislators. We were at the Statehouse for every hearing. We donated money to defeat this amendment.
In the end, we won. As hard as we worked to change the hearts and minds of our fellow Hoosiers, it was Circuit Court #7 and the Supreme Court who finally told Governor Pence and his cronies that they cannot discriminate against one segment of their constituency. And so, the fight is over.
However, even though one issue is over with, another is opening up. You see, the victory in Indiana did not occur in a vacuum. Most members of the Indiana House and Senate Democratic caucuses stood behind the LGBT community in opposing HJR-3. So now is the time for the LGBT community to step up to the plate and support those candidates who are currently running in this year's elections - and in particular, those LGBT candidates whose names are on the ballot.
Two candidates who are both out gay men come to mind. JD Ford is running against Senator Mike Delph in Senate District 29. JD is a young man who is running for public office for the first time. JD supports those issues that would affect all Hoosiers - healthcare, employment, education, transportation - he wants to make things better for ALL of his constituents. Another candidate, Thad Terradot, is running against Rep. Martin Carbaugh in District 81. Thad too is running for the first time. He wants to make a difference in his community by making improvements in the areas of education, the economy, and public welfare, to name a few.
Their opponents, on the other hand, voted to insert discrimination into our state constitution by voting in favor of HJR-3. Rep. Carbaugh voted YES for HJR-3. And most of us by now have heard of Senator Delph's attempts to reinsert the second sentence into HJR-3, which resulted in his subsequent meltdown in the form of a 72-hour Twitter rant when he learned he didn't have enough votes to make that goal a reality. Because of these actions, Senator Delph has been ostracized by his own party. How will Delph be able to get any work done if his party doesn't even support him?
So, not only do LGBT Hoosiers need to keep supporting those legislators who voted in their favor, they also must support candidates such as JD and Thad, who would work FOR equality and not against it. LGBT Hoosiers still lack protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Don't you think people like Thad and JD would be more inclined to fight to put these laws into effect? LGBT youth need better anti-bullying laws. I would imagine that people like Thad and JD would be much more likely to tak up this issue than Senator Delph or Rep. Carbaugh.
So please do not sit back complacently. We have won one battle, but there are others that we must engage in. Even if you do not live in either JD or Thad's districts, it is imperative that you reach into your pockets and contribute to their elections. It is imperative that you speak to your family and friends about these candidates, as well as other candidates who support the LGBT community. Because if you don't support these candidates, you will have no cause to complain when legislators and other opponents of equality attempt to enact laws that will harm your community. For the first time in Hoosier history, we have gay candidates who are stepping up to the plate by running for office and attempting to make Indiana a place where ALL Hoosiers can live open and honest lives. Let's help them reach that goal!