Bloomington: this morning’s bad news/good news

Well, the tornado warning lasted for about an hour. Then I came upstairs, went back to bed, and had this dream.

I am walking quickly across one of the newly painted crosswalks at the intersection of SR 46 and The Bypass.

Oops! Quick cut to backstory: These crosswalks have been newly painted to indicate that yes, this is indeed a pedestrian walkway across I think it’s eight, or is it nine? lines of east/west traffic. This intersection, already the town’s worst pedestrian and bike nightmare, has just been rendered vastly more unfriendly with the addition, thank you INDOT, of so many additional lanes when INDOT widened the Bypass. BTW: It’s first act was to remove 500 trees. Some of these trees lined the edge of my Green Acres neighborhood, leaving an open wound now that the widened Bypass is “done.”

So, back to my dream.

I’m walking with my dog across this newly opened intersection. All of a sudden I hear the bleeping tones signalling that my time is almost over, that I’d better get to the other side quickly. We step up the pace, but must cross in front of two more lanes, one of them holding a semi-truck, to get safely past. Oops! Too late! The walk light turns red. A man’s face in the truck leers at me gleefully. I know what he’s thinking: she’s illegal, I’m going to call her in! The truck pauses, while one of the men in the truck gets out to call me in to the police at the call box stationed at the corner. I will receive a ticket for this infraction.

Interesting. On the one hand, in “real life” that driver would have had a cell phone to simply call me in as he started to rev up in front of me and not pause. And in real life, my cell phone on my person with its GPS tracking would have given me away to the police, should they track these things, and they might. In real life and in this dream, pedestrians are second-class citizens, and must run to make it across vastly widened intersections built to allow more and more vehicles at faster and faster speeds.

Why am I telling you my dream? Because it feels so close to real life. Our city gov did try to stop the state of Indiana from suddenly constructing newly funded and “shovel-ready,” 20-year-old plans, but failed, succeeding only in modifying it to include sidewalks along both sides (but right next to this infernal road!) and one pedestrian tunnel under it. That’s the bad news.

The good news is a front page story in today’s local Herald-Times about our mayor, Mark Kruzan, who is to officiate at a “Mass Gay Wedding.”

Needless to say, Bloomington, home of Indiana University, is a shining, isolated beacon of evolving, multi-cultural diversity in the conservatively entrenched state of Indiana.

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan to officiate at a symbolic marriage of gay couples at a local film fest

January 29, 2013

by Jon Blau


Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Indiana, and legislators have gone so far as to propose an amendment to the state Constitution banning it. In protest, the Bloomington lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and its supporters are bringing forth their sharpest protest: They are getting married anyway.

Mayor Mark Kruzan will officiate at a symbolic marriage of dozens of gay couples during Bloomington’s PRIDE LGBTQ Film Festival, according to Adam Wason, a spokesman for the mayor. The event, which will follow film presentations at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, begins at 10 p.m. Thursday during the opening night of the festival.

“I’m sad that this has to be done symbolically,” Kruzan said. “Years in the future, we will look back on this time in our history and this issue and wonder why we would be against equality.”

Kruzan said he has reviewed the list of couples who will be brought to the stage, and one has been together for more than three decades.

House Joint Resolution 6, which has passed through the Indiana House and Senate, would define marriage as between a man and a woman, and states that “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Kruzan will be joined by six members of the Bloomington City Council and two from the Monroe County Council.

“This is a message that we will not endorse the staining of our Constitution with discrimination,” said county council President Geoff McKim, who will be joined by council colleague Rick Dietz. “A Constitution is supposed to be for setting up how we will govern. This would be polluting our Constitution.”

City council President Darryl Neher, like McKim and others who are married, said he can’t stand to look at gay friends in loving partnerships and realize that the law does not view their relationship in the same light.

Legislation to revoke someone’s rights, Neher said, is contrary to what a Constitution represents — a document that provides rights rather than taking them away.

“HJR 6 targets a specific population, and I think that’s wrong,” Neher said. “If they want to get married, they are forced to go to another state or another country outside of Indiana to have someone legally recognize their love.”

Chris Sturbaum, Andy Ruff, Susan Sandberg, Tim Mayer and Dorothy Granger will also represent the city council at the event.

Sandberg described the upcoming event as a “flash mob” of sorts, following film representations of gay pride with a spontaneous recognition of couples who have lived for years in unison but without official recognition.

“When you know these people, when you live in the same community as these people, it becomes hard not to be OK with it,” Sandberg said. “They are no different than any other couple, and they should be able to have the same freedoms.”

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