IU couple celebrates marriage despite stay on ruling
Alex Anderson, a junior criminal justice major at IU, and IU graduate Ashli Lovell were united in marriage June 25 following a federal ruling that Indiana’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.
Two days later, when a couple would typically be on a honeymoon, a stay on the ruling placed the status of their marriage in limbo.
In an interview, the two discussed what it was like growing up gay, having faith and also what they can do for future generations.
Anderson, as a child, had always known she was gay.
“I dated guys along the way, but I was never really able to be myself in high school,” she said. “I hated school for that reason.”
Anderson also came from a conservative Christian family, which she feared would not look kindly upon her for being gay.
“That’s been the hardest part of this whole thing,” she said.
For Lovell, it was different.
“I didn’t really know I was gay, but I knew something was up,” Lovell said. “I was more into girls than I was into guys, and I didn’t think it was normal.”
Coming from a Christian family, Lovell prayed she wouldn’t be gay, but it just wasn’t something she could run from.
After meeting Anderson, she finally came to terms with who she was, Lovell said.
Both of the women lived in Bedford, Ind., and attended the same high school, but they didn’t meet for the first time until family friends brought them together between five and six years ago. Nearly three years later, the two had begun dating.
From their relationship, a new challenge arose: telling their families.
Anderson and Lovell were both raised in conservative Christian families and coming out to their parents was no easy task.
“I think that’s been the hardest part of all this,” Anderson said. “They’re struggling with what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Coming out with Lovell as her partner worsened Anderson’s scenario.
“It leaves hard feelings toward Ashli because she was the person I came out with, when in fact I knew I was gay many years before meeting her,” Anderson said.
Lovell’s parents were a bit more understanding.
“They were all right with it, but not overjoyed,” she said.
It wasn’t just their parents they were worried about. They became concerned with how their community would react as well.
They said Bedford as a community was conservative in its ideals, and they feared the general population would not approve.
“Some people stopped talking with us,” Lovell said. “That’s part of the reason we’re in Bloomington. It’s pretty progressive when compared to Bedford.”
Despite religion being the reason Anderson’s parents have yet to accept the couple’s homosexuality, the two have kept their faith.
“Since coming out, I’ve read a lot of books on religion,” Anderson said. “This has always been something my parents held over my head, but I, in no way, feel like I am going to hell because I’m gay.”
Religion has always been a part of their lives, the two said, and they try to make a habit of attending church regularly.
Almost every Sunday they attend the Open Door church session at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, and they’re happy with the church’s open acceptance policy.
“They prayed for us after we got married,” Anderson said.
While the stay might leave the state questioning the status of their marriage, in their eyes there is no uncertainty.
“It was like we had a sigh of relief, then a slap in the face,” Anderson said of the stay. “It was expected though, and it doesn’t make our marriage any less meaningful.”
Anderson said she used to be shy, but lately she and Lovell have been more vocal on gay issues.
The two have created a Facebook page called “Hoosier Wives” with the goal to encourage other gay couples to come out share in their “journey of faith and love.”
The couple also plans to start a blog about their lives and what they’ve experienced throughout their relationship.
“It’s cool to be a part of something bigger than us,” Lovell said. “We just hope there are kids who realize we’re fighting for them.”
They intend to reach out to those who are scared of coming out as gay and let them know that they’re not alone.
“We want to be able to reach others,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to let people know that we’re putting ourselves out there, and so can you.”