Elliptical Biking for Marriage Equality
My wife and I are Unitarian Universalist and have been for over a decade. We started attending the UU Church of Bloomington shortly after our daughter, Karrie, came out to us. We were carpooling with a diverse group to a transformational program of Landmark seminars. During one trip, my wife commented that she could not stand to go back to her church of origin and hear our daughter damned because of her sexual orientation. One of the ladies spoke up and said that we should come to her church; that it’s nothing like that. We went a few times, really liked it, became regular attendees, and decided to sign the book. We started becoming active in the social justice work of the then newly formed “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right” Task Force. This task force is now the “Rainbow Rights” Task Force since the issues we were addressing extended beyond just the marriage issue. As a result of this involvement we became acquainted and friends with a number of people in the LGBTQIA community. Hearing their stories and both seeing and being a part of their lives was powerful testimony to the injustice of our homophobic and heterosexist society.
This work led my wife, Ruth Ann, and I to launch “Elliptical Indiana” this June. Elliptical Indiana is a tour of Indiana on an elliptical bicycle. Imagine an elliptical trainer like you may have seen in a fitness center, put wheels on it ,and some sort of a handlebar to steer. I am riding this unusual elliptical bicycle to attract attention and draw people into conversation about HJR-6, the proposed marriage and relationship discrimination amendment to the Indiana constitution. Which reads, “Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” This resolution was passed in the 2011 legislative session. If the legislature elected by the 2012 elections again passes this resolution in 2013 or 2014 it will appear as a referendum on the 2014 ballot. If approved by that ballot it would become part of the Bill of Rights of the Indiana Constitution.
We launched Elliptical Indiana from the Spencer Pride Festival on June 2 and covered the southern half of Indiana during the first two weeks. I rode 50 miles per day and for a total of 1500 miles by the end of the tour on July 4th weekend. Ruth Ann supported the ride from our mini-motorhome. She would drive ahead to wait for my arrival. While waiting she would make media contacts, have conversations herself, and prepare for my sustenance needs. We conducted this tour as our summer vacation.We held a celebratory ending recognition at the Bloomington Fourth of July parade which serendipitously had a theme of “Back to Bloomington.” The UU Church of Bloomington got really into this and we all had a great time Standing on the Side of Love together.
The inspiration for this tour goes to Lars Clausen, a Lutheran minister, who rode a unicycle across the United States having discussions with people about LGBT rights. He describes his tour in the book, Straight Into Gay America. I cannot even imagine my riding a unicycle, but I can stand on this elliptical contraption and stride away. We called our tour Elliptical Indiana; Standing for Equality, Love and Justice. This is both a metaphorical and literal stand since there is no seat.