I was born in Indiana, and I’ve lived here my entire life. I love this state. I always bristle when outsiders accuse us of being backwards and ignorant. I think we are good people at heart, and ultimately want to do the right thing by everyone.
Unfortunately HJR-3 just passed committee—that’s the constitutional amendment that will make it unconstitutional for gay people to get married or to engage in relationships that look like marriage. This affects people I care about. We’re probably going to get to vote it up or down next November.
I think HJR-3 is profoundly un-Hoosier. Here are just a few of the ways it goes against the qualities that I think most define Hoosier culture.
Polite: We are nothing if not polite—often painfully so. And HJR-3 is just so rude. Imagine walking up to your neighbors and telling them they aren’t welcome in your neighborhood. Most Hoosiers would never think of doing such a thing, yet that is essentially what HJR-3 says to every gay person in the state. So rude.
Conflict avoidant: This goes with the above, but I think it warrants a specific call out. We hate fighting. We’ll do practically anything to avoid a big argument. But HJR-3 sets us up for decades of fighting. Forget the (huge) cost—think of what the neighbors will say! A protracted legal fight whose sole purpose is to deny rights to a whole group of people does not place us in the best light.
Private: Hoosiers are not very outgoing. We really don’t like to get involved in the private lives of our neighbors. A friendly wave, some help changing a tire or shoveling out the driveway—we’re all over that—but it’s about as close as we want to get. HJR-3 is all about getting intimately involved in the familial relationships of people we may not even know. That’s definitely un-Hoosier.
Pragmatic: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. This should be our state motto. We don’t change easily; so why are we in such a hurry to change our constitution now for no practical benefit that anyone can point to?
Anti-government: We don’t love big government in Indiana. We like our individual rights, and we don’t want anyone coming in and telling us how to live our lives. Just keep our taxes low, and leave us alone. And yet HJR-3 is all about putting its nose into private people’s relationships and telling them what they are allowed to call them, and how they are allowed to organize them. That is ridiculously anti-Hoosier.
Fair-minded: We may occasionally be confused about what is right, but it is my experience that Hoosiers want everyone to be treated evenly and fairly. HJR-3 will almost certainly create serious unfairness for many Hoosiers. They’ll have trouble getting insurance, making arrangements for sick (or dying) family members, taking care of kids, buying houses, getting jobs, and more. What’s worse is that all of this to no perceivable benefit to anyone.
I believe, deeply, that most Hoosiers—if shown the facts and given a chance to have their say—would vote this thing down even if gay relationships go against their personal religious or ethical code. It’s just too intrusive and too mean-spirited to be a core part of our state identity. Please prove me right by voting down HJR-3 in November. And then get off my lawn.
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/joseanavas/ [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.