After living for more than a decade in Indiana, my partner and I are pulling up stakes and moving to Vermont this summer. We're both taking positions on the faculty at the University of Vermont. We hadn't been planning to move, but when the opportunity arose, we realized we couldn't turn it down.
This excerpt from my letter of resignation explains why we're leaving IUPUI, even though we love our jobs and the life we've built here in Indianapolis:
The University of Vermont, however, offers me something that IUPUI cannot: the opportunity to live in a state that recognizes and values my family. My partner, Susanmarie Harrington, and I have been in a committed relationship for nearly fifteen years. Over the years we have spent thousands of dollars drafting legal documents designed to give us some of the legal protections that many married couples take for granted, such as the ability to make medical decisions for each other in a time of crisis, etc. But these documents are radically incomplete. To take just one example, there is simply no way for me to designate Susanmarie as my legal next of kin here in Indiana. Vermont, however, accords same-sex couples who enter into civil unions all the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage. Those protections matter.
Living in Vermont will also allow Susanmarie and me to raise our daughter in an environment where our family is not under attack. S.J.R. 7 [a constitutional amendment that would bar same-sex couples from marrying or receiving the "legal incidents" of marriage] has been considered by the legislature every year since 2004. Until now, our daughter has been too young to absorb the vituperative commentary about the value of her family that necessarily accompanies this legislation, but she is now five years old [she just turned six] and becoming more aware of the world around her. If we can shield her from this hatred for even a few more years, it is both our duty and our desire to do so.
I want to make it very clear that Susanmarie and I have always found IUPUI a wonderful and accepting place to work. We're especially grateful that the university instituted domestic partner benefits. Those benefits made it possible for us to take advantage of family leave when our daughter was adopted. As you know, she came to us medically fragile, and our ability to have a full-time parent with her throughout much of her first year home was a tremendous gift.
That said, I would be remiss if I didn't note that I was troubled by Indiana University's inexplicable unwillingness to testify in opposition to S.J.R. 7 last year. Several of Indiana's largest businesses, including Cummins Engine, Dow Agrosciences, Anthem Wellpoint, and Lilly spoke out against the amendment, recognizing its potential harm to their employees. By the time of the hearings, there was already evidence that a similarly worded amendment in Michigan might require public schools to cease providing domestic partner benefits. The ultimate resolution of this issue remains to be seen, but at the moment a lower court has held that domestic partner benefits are unconstitutional when provided by public institutions. [The Michigan Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling shortly after I wrote this letter.] Surely Indiana University and its fellow institutions of higher learning must be aware that litigation over the constitutionality of domestic partner benefits is likely to occur in this state as well in the event that S.J.R. 7 passes and becomes law? IU's unwillingness to speak out against this possibility raises the uncomfortable implication that the university as a whole is uninterested in protecting its LGBT faculty and staff.
So that's it. We're outta here in about four weeks, give or take. I'll still be writing for Bilerico, but doing it from the Green Mountains of Vermont. In the meantime, if anyone wants to buy a fabulous house in a great neighborhood, on a block filled with queer families, shoot me a line here at Bilerico. My neighbors would be thrilled to have another queer or queer-friendly family move in.