SHEFFIELD, UK: Christopher A. Rothbauer, a postgraduate student studying at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England has collected over 1,000 signatures in opposition to the passage of House Joint Resolution 6. Rothbauer, a 2010 graduate of Indiana University Southeast with a B.A. in Philosophy and English, felt frustrated that he was so far away from home at a time that was crucial for gay rights in his home state. “I felt powerless,” he said. “I felt I should be home challenging this discriminatory bill, and I felt not enough attention was being given to this important issue by those who were home. So I decided to campaign myself.”
The Indiana House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 6 on February 16. The bill not only outlaws gay marriage in the state of Indiana, but also the milder civil unions as well as preventing the recognition of gay marriages and civil unions performed in other states. In order to become part of the state constitution, the bill would need to be passed by the Senate, after which it will need to be passed by both chambers of the Legislature against in either 2013 or 2014. It would then be placed on the ballot for Indiana residents to vote on. If the amendment were enacted, Indiana would become the thirty-first state to outlaw gay marriage.
On February 17, Rothbauer recorded a video about his view on gay rights and posted it on YouTube. Click to view the video, “All Men Are Created Equal". He then started a petition on Change.org, an online site that allows users to start online petitions about issues they feel passionately about. In less than a week, the petition has received over 1,000 signatures from concerned citizens around Indiana and the United States and his video has received over 100 hits. “I have been amazed how much support has been shown for my campaign,” Rothbauer said. “I have seen such a wide variety of people standing up against this bill, Democrats and Republicans, socialists and libertarians, Christians and atheists. It is such an amazing thing to see so many people concerned about our state and the prospect of having a discriminatory amendment in the state constitution.”
When asked about the number of out of state signatures on the petition, Rothbauer seemed unconcerned. “The senators should not dismiss so many concerned citizens from around the nation. As recent events in Arizona showed, the image of a state, not to mention its economy and tourist trade, can be tarnished by overzealous lawmakers who pass ill-conceived legislation. I would hate to think that my home state could end up with such a blotch on its record.”
Rothbauer encourages all citizens of the state of Indiana to view his video and sign his petition. “A government that does not protect all its citizens ceases to be a legitimate government, as we are seeing currently in the Middle East and northern Africa,” he said. “Our elected officials must realize they can no longer pander to extreme elements that seek to take rights away from some citizens and still expect us to support them in elections. Our Senators are elected to represent all citizens, not just the ones who agree with their moral beliefs on homosexuality.”
To learn more about or sign Rothbauer’s petition, click here.
Christopher A. Rothbauer, 30, is a currently studying for a Philosophy M.A. at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England. In addition to campaigning for gay rights, Rothbauer, a Jeffersonville, Indiana native and 2010 graduate of Indiana University Southeast with honors and high distinction, is also active in Amnesty International and the Socialist Workers Party in England.