Guest Blogger

Testify: How About a 'Do No Harm' Amendment?

Filed By Guest Blogger | February 13, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: HJR-6, marriage amendment, Patrick Roth, same-sex marriage

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Patrick Roth is currently a stay at home dad living in Indianapolis with his husband, Wade, daughter, Rosy, and exchange student, Julia. He gave the following testimony in front of the Indiana House committee considering a marriage amendment; the amendment passed for consideration by the full House.

PatrickRoth.jpgI am a resident of Indianapolis, and I have spent much of my life in Indiana. I am a graduate of Franklin Central High School and Butler University. I am President of my condominium association and have served the last two years as President of the Fall Creek Place Homeowner's Association. I still serve on the Board of Directors of both Associations.

I am married to Wade Holmes. He has lived and worked his entire life in Indiana. He works just a couple of blocks away at Exact Target, one of the shining stars of the Indiana business community. A company, by the way, that sees the value of all its employees and offers domestic partner benefits. We own two homes in Indianapolis, in Fall Creek Place, an award winning community and nationally recognized as one of the best examples of urban renewal in the country. We helped to make that community successful by contributing our time, our commitment and our money into it. My husband is also block captain of our crime watch committee.

We are the proud parents of a soon to be 13 year old girl, whom we've raised since she was three weeks old. She goes to St. Joan of Arc school. We are also currently hosting a 16 year old German exchange student who is attending Broad Ripple High School. We do volunteer work at our daughters' school and in our community.

We contribute a significant amount in income, property and sales taxes to the state of Indiana. We vote - we vote - in every election. I tell you all this because we are, I believe, the epitome of what makes a successful society - we are law-abiding, concerned, involved members of our community with a happy, stable family.

I call Wade my husband because he is. More than six years ago, we flew over 2400 miles to Vancouver, Canada to get married. We did that because we couldn't do it in our own country, which we love very much.

Sadly, we're not considered married by the state of Indiana. In fact, we are considered legal strangers to one another. We have wills, power of attorneys, health directives - everything we can to legally protect our family in the event of one of our deaths. But those documents can only go so far. When we file our taxes, we have to lie to the state and to the federal government and say we are single.

Do you know that we could live together in our home for next forty years, but if the current laws stay the way they are, or if, God forbid, you pass this piece of legislation, when one of us does eventually die, the other will have to pay taxes on half the value of that house that we jointly paid for? That is because the state and federal governments consider us legal strangers to one another. Yes, complete legal strangers.

This amendment you are discussing would add bold, blatant discrimination to the constitution of the state of Indiana. Let's not beat around the bush; let's not use Orwellian euphemisms here. This legislation doesn't do anything for anyone. It will, however, hurt a great number of your neighbors, of your co-workers, of your voters and of your family.

This Amendment will not strengthen anyone's marriage. It will not support anyone's family. It will not protect anyone's children - from anything. What it will do is tell the people of Indiana that it's okay to discriminate against some of its citizens. It will tell them that it's okay to have different classes of citizens, that some are better than others. You would be enshrining in our constitution an arrogant, hateful belief that some are deserving of something that others are not.

I think worst of all, if you support this amendment, you would be telling my child that some families are better than hers. And that is probably the most hurtful and hateful part of this.

I couldn't even begin to make you understand how I would feel if this amendment were made law - how every gay person in this state, every one of their family members, every one of their friends would feel. It would be like being stabbed in the back by your own best friend. That's the best analogy I can give you.

I'm a pretty bottom-line kind of guy. I speak the truth and I speak it freely. What you are considering here is pandering to a very small, very vocal, part of our community. And you would be doing it at the expense of an entire other group of the very same community.

It is wrong. It is discriminatory. It is nothing short of vile and hateful.

You would be doing nothing good for any part of our society, but you would be doing something very hurtful and detrimental to a good part of it. You would be telling me and my family, and all our friends and family, that we are not welcome here. You would be telling all of America that anyone gay or gay-supporting is not welcome in Indiana.

You would be hurting our business community by making Indiana look like a less desirable place to live and work. Any way you look at it, this proposed legislation would harm people right and left, while helping no one. No one.

If you really want to amend the constitution of the great state of Indiana, why not this? Scrap this proposed amendment entirely, and put it its place an amendment that states simply and clearly:

"The Legislature shall pass no laws, nor make any Amendments, that do harm to any group in Society, while doing no good for any other."

That would be an amendment we could all support wholeheartedly.

Do not support this currently proposed amendment. Do not insult us by calling it protection of marriage. Do not try to fool us by claiming to be working for the good of the people.

This amendment is the worst type of legislation, it does nothing for anyone. It only harms me and my family and thousands upon thousands of families in this state. Do not allow this to move forward. It is wrong, and you know it is wrong.

Thank you for listening.

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Patrick, this is SO very well said. I am so grateful that we live in Massachusetts where my daughter wanted to marry the love of her life, and DID! I wish you and your family the same.

I know so many ppl want to stay where they grew up, or to live in some state for some other lifestyle reason (warm climate, beaches, whatever), in spite of the right wing climate there. Personally, I am kinda stuck in IN unless I wanted to move even farther away from our families (NOT acceptable to my wife, though she hates IN too), and to find a job in a more progressive area, so I can relate to not moving to get away from all the hate.

However, with the big push in all the right wing states toward oppression of anyone who isn't a US-born white Christian male, I am wondering if it isn't going to come to even more separation between the conservative and the progressive states (not that CA and NY and some other places you think would be better are, esp for gay rights), with companies that require highly educated ppl and who need to draw across many groups to fill their needs, avoiding the conservative states, with fewer good jobs and the corresponding higher tax base. Along with that, conventions and other national/international concerns will stay away too.

Maybe if these states don't care about ppl, they will take notice of the money. In IN, where the conservatives are pushing anti-furriner laws, even the Chamber of Commerce is concerned, as is the extremely conservative Indianapolis newspaper.

On the other hand, the conservative states have never really shown much concern for depressed economies in the past, as long as they get to punish the ppl they hate, so maybe not.

What a great amendment! I'd certainly go vote for it!

Unfortunately, the Republican government seems intent on harming as many ppl who aren't just like them as they can, so I'd say they won't be giving your proposal much support.

That amendment is already the law; it's basically the reasoning behind Vaughn Walker's decision against Prop 8 in California.

It's inadequate, though, since if you let people debate the meanings of "harm," "group," and "good," and then they're not always going to come to the same conclusion.

Fantastically stated! It is concise, to the point, and relevant. I would love to have been there to see the reaction. I wonder what the Indiana legislators have to say in response.

thank you for sharing this patrick.

I too live in Indianapolis and, Patrick, let me just say I couldn't agree with you more. My wife and I are happily married and wish everyone had the right to marry whom they choose.

I wrote letters to several representatives criticizing this amendment and making my opinion about it known, and of course got no response.

One more thing - there is absolutely NOTHING these hatemongers can say that will make you less married to Wade. I know the legal penalties and discrimination are painful, but at least you know that if nothing else, you have each other and there is nothing their hate can do to separate you.

BTW, we LOVE Fall Creek Place and are hoping to buy our next house there.