BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A dozen Bloomington area couples were symbolically married Thursday night in a ceremony meant as a stand against a ban on gay marriage in Indiana.
Bloomington and Monroe County officials and clergy members participated. It was a long time coming for some couples, but participants were under no illusions about whether they gained any rights.
Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan opened the ceremony by saying he hoped someday his role wouldn’t be symbolic—noting that mayors have the right to marry people in Indiana, just not same-sex couples. The audience—many of them there to see a GLBTQ film festival—cheered the brides and grooms.
And the couples sealed their unions with a kiss. Susan Ferentinos and her partner of 20 years, Danielle McClelland, were one of the couples to take part. Ferentinos says even if the pair don’t get the same rights as heterosexual married couples as a result of the ceremony, it’s a gesture she thinks lawmakers might notice.
“Ceremonies like this are providing a means for people to see the folks that these laws are affecting,” Ferentinos said.
Kruzan said he believes more public officials may want to join him in conducting gay marriages.
“It is symbolic and it’s not power that’s vested in me as the mayor of Bloomington but I think it’s important for people to realize that there are a lot of people who depend on votes willing to stand up and say, ‘This is what we would like to have the power to do,” he said.
The ceremony came the same day leaders in the Indiana House and Senate wavered on whether to debate putting a same-sex marriage ban bill to a vote this session.
Kruzan, a lawmaker for 16 years, said he believes more legislators may be publicly supportive of gay marriage now than during his eight terms in Indianapolis.
“I know when I was in the state legislature, I think I was one of nine that voted to legalize same-sex marriage,” he said. “I think today you’d see that vote be a little bit different.”
Still, when the first votes to put the marriage ban to a constitutional referendum were taken in 2011, more than three-fourths of tallies were for the ban.