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June 26, 2015

MY VIEW: Jane Henegar "We won marriage, now let's ensure full equality"

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people be­come something greater than once they were....It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves....They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. It is so ordered.

--Supreme Court of the United States, Obergefell v. Hodges, June 26, 2015

Friday's historic decision is a joyous one for same-sex couples across the nation and for everyone who wants to participate fully in our society and enter, in front of friends and family, into the lifelong commitment of marriage with the person they love.

The Supreme Court's decision recognizes that the Constitution's promise of fairness and equality extends the fundamental right to marry to all loving couples and it affirms the values of the strong, growing majority of Americans—60 percent, as recently reported by Gallup —who support the freedom to marry. Jane Henegar webJane Henegar

The American Civil Liberties Union has been on the cutting edge of America's many advances for equality over the last 95 years. We recognize that hesitancy and discomfort and downright resistance are the frequent traveling companions of change. Our country has weathered these challenges by looking to our shared values and calling upon the better angels of our nature. And we can again. Over the last two years, with our debates about the state constitutional amendment HJR-3 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana has been in the epicenter of a rapidly evolving understanding of justice and equality. However painful this process, we are each better persons and together a better people for the effort. We can embrace this next step in the arc toward justice, guided by our hearts and our Constitution.

As the RFRA storm proved and a recent poll confirmed, most Hoosiers are ready for full equality for our LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and loved ones. We are not alone. A strong majority of Americans, nearly 70 percent, supports protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Yet people are often surprised to realize that under the laws of most states, including Indiana, it is still legal to fire a hardworking employee, deny them an apartment, deny them service in a restaurant, or otherwise discriminate against them simply because they are LGBT. Nobody should have to live in fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance, or for exercising their freedom to marry.

The ACLU will work with the people and business community of Indiana to update our state's civil rights law—which already includes protections from discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, age and religion—to also protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congratulations to happy couples everywhere! And, let's take this next step for equality together: Let's work toward the day when our LGBTQ family, neighbors, coworkers and friends cannot be discriminated against, because Indiana's civil rights law protects them, along with other vulnerable groups. Indiana is a good place, and Hoosiers are good people. Let's show the world we truly do welcome all.

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