Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 5, 2013

Nov. 5, 2013: Letters to the editor

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Civil marriage must be an option for all

With regard to the issue of gay marriage, there is a different point of view.

I am the mother of six children. Two of them are gay. I have a gay son, who has just married his partner in California. I have a lesbian daughter, who has been with her partner for 29 years. They have had a civil union in Vermont, a domestic partnership in New Jersey, and a wedding in Canada.

When I learned I had gay children, I was traumatized. Nothing had prepared me for this eventuality. As a fundamentalist Christian, I had a lot of work to do.

After years of struggle, prayer, agonizing and deep study, I finally recognized that gay people do not choose their sexual orientation. They are God’s creation as surely as any other human being.

Once I embraced that truth, I became a gay rights activist.

I volunteered as a buddy with the AIDS project in Worcester, Mass., for six years. All three of my patients died.

I was appointed to Gov. William Weld’s Commission for Gay and Lesbian Youth. This commission was formed for the expressed purpose of reducing the number of gay young people committing suicide. The suicide rate among gay teenagers is staggering.

I spent 10 years with the group Soulforce, confronting churches about their policies on gay people. During that time several churches have changed their position on this issue. Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Disciples of Christ and others now ordain gay people to positions of leadership and to the ministry.

Yet, when I talked to pastors in Kokomo, I found it very difficult to find a church that embraces this new position.

Kokomo very much needs a chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). People are still hurting. Families are still being torn apart. It also needs gay-friendly churches to make that fact known.

Of course, I am in favor of gay marriage. Gay people deserve the same protections under the law as heterosexual married people.

Religious institutions have the right to refuse this to people. They should not, but they have that right. Civil marriage is not the same as a religious ceremony. Civil marriage is what protects people under the law.

Obviously, this issue is of vital importance to me. I hope it is important to others of the silent majority.

Luann Bahler


Constitutional ban is still discrimination

Letter writer Peter Heck believes Indiana needs a constitutional ban on same sex marriages in order to stop the courts from ruling discrimination against gays and lesbians as illegal.

But any such ban is still discrimination. It is still treating hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers as inferior citizens, because of fears of people like Mr. Heck.

The fact is the courts have protected the rights of disliked and despised groups throughout our nation's history. Brown v. Board of Education overturned racial discrimination in schools, and Loving v. Virginia overturned interracial bans. There is a reason we have a court system, and it is in part to ensure that despised groups enjoy the same rights and liberties as everyone else.

Despite what Mr. Heck seems to believe, the vast majority of marriage equality supporters are not gay; they are the friends, family and loved ones of gay men and women. They are people who love their children, grandchildren, nephews, uncles, lifelong friends and co-workers.

Those who oppose marriage equality know their ideas and fears are being discarded by millions of Americans every year. In just 10 years, support for marriage equality has risen from 30 percent to 50-plus percent of Americans.

Gays, lesbians and their supporters are not trying to strip those who oppose marriage equality of their ability to marry. We believe they have a right to marry the person whom they love, but unfortunately the other side on this issue does not believe the same.

Colleen Kronquist