On the eve of a hearing on the proposed same-sex marriage ban about 90 people gathered Sunday night at Plymouth Congregational Church in Fort Wayne for an interfaith prayer service opposing the measure.
Led by at least 10 clergy from various congregations, the groups joined in their opposition to House Joint Resolution 3 – an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage – and a bill that attempts to clarify its language.
The amendment is scheduled for a hearing today at 10 a.m. before the House Judiciary Committee.
Toni Kring, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and a volunteer for Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan coalition fighting the proposed amendment, will attend the hearing along with about 10 others from the Fort Wayne community, she said.
“I think many lawmakers are getting a lot of pressure from their superiors to pass this and they would rather not be dealing with it at all,” Kring said. “I am asking them to be leaders to have the courage to take a stand and make a decision for all time.”
Kring has been sending mailers and calling people to inform them of the amendment.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” she said. “Even those with a different opinion have been very civil.”
It’s not only the general public who is confused about the motive of the amendment, but lawmakers, as well, she said.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he was not clear on whether civil unions would be barred while Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said civil unions would not be allowed in Indiana but domestic partnerships would be.
“They are both lawyers and they disagree on the outcome, should it pass,” Kring said.
Kring said opponents of the amendment are not fighting for marriage equality.
“Instead, this is a fight against changing the constitution to restrict or withdraw rights,” Kring said. “We are just holding the line.
Kring has been married for 31 years and she and her husband have two granddaughters, ages 20 and 22, who live with them, she said.
“My young granddaughters are shocked and do not understand why they are doing this,” Kring said, “and I’m 66 and I don’t understand it, either. In the end, who wins?”
Kring and several clergy members who have banded together to oppose the marriage ban have spoken to several panel members, including Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington and Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne.
Thirteen members will have an initial vote on the ban, including seven who supported the measure when it passed in 2011.
Kring and Rabbi Javier Cattapan of the Congregation Achduth Vesholom have talked to Leonard and Cox about the amendment.
Cattapan said many in the Jewish community oppose the amendment because “it’s never a good idea to vote for discrimination in any form.”
“Fifty years ago, they could have decided to restrict Jews – where they could go and what they could do,” Cattapan said. “We are against enacting legislation that restricts anyone’s rights.”
Before the service ended with a candlelight ceremony, a group prayer to honor the dignity of all people, regardless of color or sexuality, creed or condition, included the following declaration: “Love makes a family, whether seen as gay or straight; love is the essential element producing the peace and security we pray be found in all of our homes.”