Hoosiers talk marriage rights at gay pride festival

(WISH Photo/Nick Nebesny)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As Indianapolis’ gay pride festivities come to an end, the LGBT community turns its focus to a lawsuit involving one couple’s fight for recognition.

Legal experts say the fact that a federal judge took a long time ruling on whether or not to recognize a same sex marriage in Indiana, could mean a broader decision is coming.

It was a big topic of conversation Saturday at the Circle City IN Pride Festival. The women were married in Massachusetts. One is now terminally ill and wants her partner recognized on the death certificate. But this delay is making marriage law experts predict the judge could rule on the constitutionality of the state’s gay marriage ban, rather than first making a decision in this single case.

When it comes to the LGBT community, the fight for marriage rights is priority one.

“It’s an hourly fight, it’s people realizing that they know gay people and that this discrimination will hurt the people that they know and love,” said Chris Paulsen, Board of Directors President with Indiana Equality Action.

“I want to get married to a girl somewhere in my future,” said Cheyenne Bitner. “And it’s important to me because I have two moms,” said Cheyenna Mills. Both attended Saturday’s festival.

Those at Indianapolis’ Pride Festival are quick to explain why they believe marriage should be a possibility for them.

“I love my parents to death,” Mills said.

For Cheyenna Mills, it’s a chance to make her family “official.”

But even with tens of thousands attending this week’s pride events, there are many opposed to the idea.

“We shouldn’t be avoiding important issues, we should be taking a stand,” said Jim Bopp, Republican Attorney.

Bopp is a Terre Haute attorney who recently led an effort to include opposition to gay marriage in the Indiana GOP platform.

“I’m endorsing marriage between a man and woman. It’s the position of our governor and the vast majority of our legislators and republicans,” Bopp told 24-Hour News 8’s Jim Shella last month.

But during this year’s legislative session, an effort to put the marriage question on the November ballot was defeated.

Still, LGBT supporters say momentum is on their side.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that marriage equality will go through,” said Ethan Jackson, who attended the festival.

“The straight allies are coming out in full force for us,” Paulson said.

“I’m not opposed to other people’s views and maybe they’re not in agreement with my beliefs, but that’s OK. That’s what makes us America. We have to embrace that,” said festival attendee Dawn Mathisen.

Just this week, a 7th Circuit Court judge ruled the Wisconsin gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. If the Evansville judge makes that same decision and it’s appealed it would be the 7th Circuit Court that would then rule on the case.

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