Same-sex marriage opponents learning what it’s like to be marginalized





By John Krull
John Krull, publisher,

INDIANAPOLIS – The coming battle over same-sex marriage in Indiana may give social conservatives some taste of what it’s like to be gay.

Commentary button in JPG - no shadowIt may show them what it’s like to be marginalized.

In just the past few days, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Indiana University, the state’s largest institution of higher education, have come out against putting a ban against same-sex unions into the Indiana Constitution. The opposition to the constitutional ban from the chamber and IU is in sync with the drumbeat of opposition to the measure from many of the state’s largest employers.

The news of the Indy chamber’s opposition, in particular, prompted a note of petulance from supporters of the ban.

“The myth that public policy support is somehow bad for business is nothing more than a red herring and a scare tactic,” said American Family Association of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark, who knows something about scare tactics.

Clark also tried to wave the populist pitchfork by adding that the “future of marriage belongs in the hands of Indiana voters, not the board room of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.”

(At this point, I should disclose that I once was the executive director of what was then the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, which on my watch challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.)

If Clark’s tone sounded somewhat aggrieved, it’s because he’s facing opposition from quarters he previously considered friendly. That opposition is leaving him and other social conservatives feeling increasingly isolated.

In fact, this whole battle is beginning to resemble a large-scale family quarrel. By Indiana law, the Indiana General Assembly must vote in favor of amending the ban into the Indiana Constitution in this upcoming legislative session so that the measure can go onto the ballot for the state’s voters to decide next autumn. If the lawmakers don’t vote in favor of the measure – or if they alter it in any way – the state’s ponderous constitutional amendment process starts all over again.

Because Republicans control the governor’s office and have super majorities in both the Indiana Senate and the Indiana House of Representatives, this largely will be a squabble between the two big wings of the GOP.

Clark and his fellow social conservatives, who supply a lot of the party’s activist energy and drive, want the ban. Business leaders, who provide most of the party’s money, don’t want the ban because they think it will be a drag on the state’s economic growth.

Being shunned by members of their own team – being told, in fact, that something that means a great deal to them is damaging to the state – doubtless is an unpleasant experience for Indiana’s culture warriors.

That may give them an insight into what it has meant to be gay for much of this state’s and this country’s history.

It will teach them what it’s like to have their needs neglected, their concerns ignored and their views disregarded by their fellow citizens simply because of who they are. It will enlighten social conservatives about what it’s like to have their “lifestyle” – there is no other word that can mock in such a subtle and cruel manner, as if it were a fashion statement, something as important as one’s love or faith – disparaged.

In short, it will teach social conservatives what it feels like to be treated as second-class citizens in a state and nation in which citizenship isn’t supposed to be structured on a tier system.

We’re all supposed to have the same rights.

In a kind and sane world, the insights social conservatives could gain from this experience of marginalization might lead to empathy.

And empathy might lead to understanding.

This, though, is not a kind or sane world – at least in regard to this issue. That means that, faced with what they’re likely to see as abandonment and betrayal from people they once saw as allies and partners, social conservatives are likely to run a different gamut of emotions.

Bewilderment will beget resentment. Resentment will beget anger. And anger will beget bitterness.

Perhaps not coincidentally, gay Hoosiers and gay Americans know something about those feelings, too.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  1. And yet John, for all of your mental self gratifications, it is still nice to know that you support the procedure when you advance the conclusion that the voters are the final arbitrator and should be given an unfettered voice. bravo !

  2. On a lighter note, pedophiles are now sexually orientated as “minor-attracted persons” according to the APA.

  3. Rights should not be subject to majority vote – that’s why this nation was founded as a Republic, and not a pure Democracy. Voters in a certain Southern state refused to remove the dead-letter prohibition against “mixing the races”. And equal marriage is between consenting adults. In certain states (until a few years ago, in Mass for example) a 13 year old girl could marry a 30 year old man (or older) if her parents consented – now, rightly, that’s considered child abuse. So looking back to the “good old days” requires looking at the facts, not the “Father Knows Best”/”Leave It to Beaver” fantasy view of what you think the past should have been.

    • So who decides when we are allowed to vote? You? I don’t want you deciding anymore than you want me deciding.

      • Voting on whether to have trash pickup on Tuesdays or Thursdays is too much detail, and voting on whether the 14th Amendment applies to gays is too broad; that’s why we have judicial review. Let SCOTUS vote on it in this instance.

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