Today’s marriage equality ruling was historic. Judge Young’s ruling means that Indiana joins twenty other states where same-sex marriage is legal. State courts or US District Courts in another seven states have ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional but appeals remain pending. All of this happened on the same day that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Utah’s ban, making it the first US Appeals Court to strike down a same-sex marriage ban. Bans are currently being challenged in each state. It is only a matter of time before the issue once again ends up before the Supreme Court.
Yet news of these rulings often fails to humanize the story. South Bend Voice interviewed three separate openly gay or trans individuals in the South Bend region. The emotions expressed ranged from relief to ecstasy. A common thread was a disbelief that this could happen in culturally conservative, Republican-leaning Indiana, even in 2014.
Fernando Sanchez is a 23 year-old Goshen resident who has been in a relationship with his boyfriend for almost two years. They met at the now-closed gay bar, Truman’s, a long-time Mishawaka night club in the 100 Center shopping plaza. The couple expects to get married in 2015.
Fernando, who often goes simply as Fer, expressed doubt when he first heard the news.
“My first reaction was ‘no way!’ I couldn’t believe it. I thought Indiana would be one of the last states to legalize same-sex marriage,” he told me. “I still can’t believe it.”
Fernando learned about it while at the gym. He was using the treadmill and stopped running to check his Facebook notifications, which were “going crazy” from friends sending messages about the ruling.
“This is happiness not just for me but I’m very happy for all of us. It’s about time,” he continued. “We are just like everyone else. We deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples.”
South Bend resident Tyler Zimmerman, 29, was on lunch today when he heard the news. He first thought that it was merely a prank.
“Finally!” he said when I asked him what his first reaction was to the ruling.
On a personal level, it meant much more to Tyler.
“It means love is winning. In a world where people use religion to cover hate; and without ‘religion’ there’s no argument on homosexuality!”
Bobbie Lopez also heard about the ruling through social media, seeing it on Facebook’s newsfeed. Bobbie, a 26 year-old Riley High School graduate, identifies as trans.
“It’s about damn time,” she said.
Bobbie has been in a committed relationship for eight years. The ruling means that the couple will not have to cross state lines to exchange their vows. Another concern was her identity as trans.
“It means I won’t be obligated to follow strict guidelines under the government and be obligated to undergo sexual reassignment surgery simply to get married.”
The initial relief was followed with “a feeling of gratification that Indiana has followed suit in the progression of equality in our nation. I know there are a lot of GLBT couples who have started families, and created lives with one another in our area, and there are those who wish to start families. Now they have that opportunity to take everything to the next level. This day is for them.”